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Module HTA-3103:
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 c400-1169 is particularly rich and diverse. This course aims to make students familiar with a range of archaeological evidence, both structural and artefactual, relevant to early medieval Ireland and to provide them with an understanding of its significance with particular reference to changes in society and economy and an awraeness 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


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 historical controversies.


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


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

Learning outcomes

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

  2. 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.

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

  4. Analyse relevant archaeological excavation reports closely in order to understand their significance, their limitations and to set them in context with reference to other relevant work in the same field.

  5. Present relevant archaeological evidence clearly in the form of a seminar paper with appropriate visual images to aid explanation. Be able to answer questions on the sbject set and make contributions to seminar discussions more generally

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
ESSAY Essay 50
CASE STUDY Archaeological site or artefact study 30
INDIVIDUAL PRESENTATION oral paper with powerpoint + seminar discussion 20

Teaching and Learning Strategy


Student presentations and discussion


Lectures provide module framework

Private study 172

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

If there is an additional fieldtrip this has resource implications

Reading list

see handbook

Courses including this module

Compulsory in courses:

Optional in courses: