This week two Research Assistants, Dr Keith Smith and Dr Elaine Pereira Farrell, officially started their activities in the second phase of the Monastic Ireland: Landscape and Settlement and next week, Dr Annejulie Lafaye will join the team as a post-doctoral researcher.
The Monastic Ireland is supported by the Irish Research Council (IRC) under the Advanced Research Project Grant 2013 Initiative and led by Dr Rachel Moss (TCD), Dr Edel Bhreathnach (Discovery Programme), and Dr Malgorzata Krasnodebska-D’Aughton (UCC).
It aims to clarify the role of monasteries c. 1100-1700 in shaping the distribution and form of Irish urban and rural settlement. The role played by monastic communities in attracting adjacent settlements, and in the process of colonisation and social control of already established populations, will be analysed in the context of broader trends across Europe. The particularly rich survivals of relevant archaeological, architectural and documentary sources in Ireland means that it is ideally placed within the now vibrant arena of European monastic studies to answer key questions relevant to the Continent as a whole.
In association with the Discovery Programme, the project will be able to combine more traditional desk-based study and field observation with cutting-edge technologies not usually harnessed in the disciplines of art history and history. Digital surveying techniques, including Lidar and geophysical survey, have the potential to reveal subtle changes in building fabric, and adjacent, now below ground, evidence of settlement not visible to the naked eye. This will provide new information, which will complement and clarify more traditional sources, research and teaching methods.
The proposed project will form phase 2 of research initiated by the PI and Associate Investigators in 2010. Phase 1, now nearing completion, has achieved the successful assembly of baseline data (historical synopses, image archives, transcriptions of relevant primary documents and tourism information) relating to monasteries across the island of Ireland. This is currently being prepared for publication on the dedicated Monastic Ireland website in a manner that will make it usable by all levels of user from academic, to cultural tourist, to schoolchild.