Settlement clusters at parish churches in Ireland, c. 1200-1600 AD
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This thesis investigates the archaeology and cultural history of small settlements that occur at parish churches in English- and Gaelic- dominated lordships of Ireland, c. 1200-1600 AD, in order to propose their origins and role and to determine how major change and different cultural traditions affected their form in the landscape. The principal aims are to find out why clustered settlement occurs at parish churches, to investigate the plan and layout of those settlements, to establish a social and cultural context for them and to identify nuances in their form. As an approach to this research, the Anglo-Norman county of Kilkenny and later Butler lordship of Ormond and the Gaelic Ó Lochlainn lordship of Burren constitute key case studies. Within those lordships, six sites were selected. In Kilkenny, Newtown Jerpoint and Tullaherin were chosen for investigation. In the Ó Lochlainn lordship of Burren, Oughtmama, Noughaval, Carran and Killeany are explored. The case studies are primarily archaeological investigations of the upstanding features of the settlement clusters, their place in the wider landscape, combined with records of the sites in native chronicles, Crown administrative records and ecclesiastical sources. Parish churches were high-status buildings, preforming an important spiritual and social role, but the settlements that occur around them were very different and their role depended on the circumstances of their origin. Colonial boroughs like Newtown Jerpoint had an altogether different role from that of the clustered settlements around parish churches in the Burren. The former were planned settlements, influenced by English prototypes, while the latter were, arguably, the homes of Gaelic erenagh families who had hereditary obligations as church officials and provided local leadership. However, this research has established that there was hybridity among parish-church settlements too, as seen at Tullaherin in Anglo-Norman lordship Ormond, just as there was diversity in the roles of the Burren settlements, which were specialised as pilgrimage and market centres.
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