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Module HTA-2103:
Early Medieval Ireland

Module Facts

Run by School of History, Philosophy and Social Sciences

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 1

Organiser: Prof Nancy Edwards

Overall aims and purpose

The archaeology of early medieval Ireland c 400-1169 is particularly rich and diverse and has been enriched in recent years by a wide range of new discoveries. 1. This module makes students familiar with a range of archaeological evidence, both structural and artefactual, relevant to early medieval Ireland. 2. It provides them with a critical understanding of its significance with particular reference to changes in society and economy. 3. It provides them with a critical awareness of different interpretations of the evidence.

Course content

This course will discuss the major types of archaeological evidence for early medieval Ireland c. AD 400-1150. It will consider the major types of settlement- ringfort, crannog, unencllosed settlement, ecclestiastical sites, Viking towns- their origins, chronology, layout and functions using specific examples. It will then review the different types of evidence for the farming economy and consider their significance; the evidence of artefact production; trade and exchange and the development of the ealy medieval Irish economy from a society primarily concerned with patronage, gift giving, reciprocity and luxury trade to a limited urban economy using coin and silver.

Assessment Criteria


(lower Ds) will demonstrate an appropriate range or depth of knowledge of at least parts of the relevant field, and will make at least partly-successful attempts to frame an argument which engages with archaeological differences of interpretation/debates.


(B) Will show a solid level of achievement in all the criteria in the paragraph above.


(A) Will show this solid achievement across the criteria combined with particularly impressive depths of knowledge and/or subtlety of analysis.

Learning outcomes

  1. Be able to present and evaluate relevant archaeological information in the form of an oral presentation using Powerpoint and contribute to seminar discussions.

  2. Present clear archaeological arguments in the form of assessed essays, and back these with appropriate evidence.

  3. An ability to analyse and evaluate a variety of arguments and opinions concerning the interpretation of the archaeological evidence.

  4. A critical understanding of the major developments and changes in archaeological evidence for the period and the significance of these in relation to the society and economy of the period.

  5. Demonstrate an in-depth knowledge of the of the main types of archaeological evidence for settlement and economy in early medieval Ireland.

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
ESSAY Essay - sites 40
ESSAY Essay on early medieval Ireland 40
INDIVIDUAL PRESENTATION seminar paper with powerpoint 20

Teaching and Learning Strategy


To provide framework

Private study 172

To allow student presentations and discussion


Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • Computer Literacy - Proficiency in using a varied range of computer software
  • Self-Management - Able to work unsupervised in an efficient, punctual and structured manner. To examine the outcomes of tasks and events, and judge levels of quality and importance
  • Exploring - Able to investigate, research and consider alternatives
  • Information retrieval - Able to access different and multiple sources of information
  • Inter-personal - Able to question, actively listen, examine given answers and interact sensitevely with others
  • Critical analysis & Problem Solving - Able to deconstruct and analyse problems or complex situations. To find solutions to problems through analyses and exploration of all possibilities using appropriate methods, rescources and creativity.
  • Presentation - Able to clearly present information and explanations to an audience. Through the written or oral mode of communication accurately and concisely.
  • Argument - Able to put forward, debate and justify an opinion or a course of action, with an individual or in a wider group setting
  • Self-awareness & Reflectivity - Having an awareness of your own strengths, weaknesses, aims and objectives. Able to regularly review, evaluate and reflect upon the performance of yourself and others

Subject specific skills

  • problem solving to develop solutions to understand the past
  • understanding the complexity of change over time; in specific contexts and chronologies
  • being sensitive to the differences, or the "otherness" of the past, and the difficulty to using it as a guide to present or future action
  • being sensitive to the role of perceptions of the past in contemporary cultures
  • producing logical and structured arguments supported by relevant evidence
  • planning, designing, executing and documenting a programme of research, working independently
  • marshalling and critically appraising other people's arguments, including listening and questioning
  • presenting effective oral presentations for different kinds of audiences, including academic and/or audiences with little knowledge of history
  • preparing effective written communications for different readerships
  • making effective and appropriate forms of visual presentation
  • making effective and appropriate use of relevant information technology
  • making critical and effective use of information retrieval skills using paper-based and electronic resources
  • critical evaluation of one's own and others' opinions


Resource implications for students

None unless module has overseas fieldtrip

Reading list

see handbook

Courses including this module

Compulsory in courses:

Optional in courses: