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Early medieval settlement enclosures in Ireland: dwellings, daily life and social identity

Early medieval settlement enclosures in Ireland: dwellings, daily life and social identity


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Early medieval settlement enclosures in Ireland: dwellings, daily life and social identity

By Aidan O’Sullivan and Tríona Nicholl

Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy, Vol. 111C (2011)

Abstract: Early medieval dwellings and settlements were key places in early Irish society, being the locations where children and adults learned, performed and negotiated their social identities of status, kinship, household and gender throughout much of their lives. Early Irish laws, narrative literature and saints’ Lives reveal how people perceived and understood settlement enclosures as agents in the creation and enculturation of these social identities. Archaeology through its investigation of the physical organisation and inhabitation of settlements can trace the social, ideological and cultural perception of both dwelling-places and domestic activities—and explore how people lived in houses, moved through domestic spaces and used places and objects to create the social worlds in which they lived. This paper utilises evidence from archaeology, history, anthropology, social theory and experimental archaeology to explore dwelling practices, domestic life and society in early medieval Ireland, particularly between the sixth and ninth centuries AD


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