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The Battle of Clontarf Conference: International symposium to mark the millennium of the Battle of Clontarf

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Edmund Burke Theatre, Trinity College Dublin, 11-12 April 2014

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There are few more emblematic dates in Irish history than that of the Battle of Clontarf, fought on Good Friday, 1014, when the high-king Brian Boru lost his life in the hour of victory against his Scandinavian and Irish foes. Trinity College Dublin has a unique connection to Brian, being the home of the so-called Brian Boru’s Harp whose image is the national symbol of Ireland. Although the harp has no known link to Brian and is considerably later in date, Trinity College does in fact house the only artefact surviving today which we can definitively state the high-king saw and perhaps touched: the world-famous Book of Armagh with its inscription marking his visit to the primatial city in 1005 in which he is described as Imperator Scotorum (‘Emperor of the Gaels’). Trinity College also houses the largest collection of medieval manuscript sources for the Battle of Clontarf including the famous Cogadh Gáedhel re Gallaibh (‘The War of the Irish with the Foreigners’) which, more than anything else, created the later mythical image of Brian Boru.

To mark, therefore, the 1000th anniversary of Clontarf and of Brian’s death, a major international conference of academic experts will be held on 11-12 April 2014 in Trinity College Dublin (in the Edmund Burke Theatre, one of the largest university lecture-theatres in Ireland). Uniquely, the conference brings together all of the leading experts in the field from universities throughout Ireland (including Queen’s Belfast, Trinity College Dublin, University College Dublin, University College Cork, NUI Maynooth, and University of Limerick), Great Britain (including the Universities of Cambridge, St Andrews, and Liverpool), and further afield, including the Universities of Utrecht and Helsinki, as well as specialists from the National Museum of Ireland and elsewhere (see the Battle of Clontarf Conference programme (PDF, 425kb)).

The objectives of the Battle of Clontarf Conference are – by bringing together for the first time all the world’s leading authorities on the subject – to establish the truth of what really happened at Clontarf for a twenty-first century audience, to re-evaluate the role of Brian Boru in the light of the latest cutting-edge research, and to bring recent investigations of the subject of the high-kingship of Ireland and of the role of the Vikings in medieval Ireland into the realm of public discourse, dispelling (or perhaps reconfirming) myths, shedding new light, raising public awareness, and – by bringing together in one public forum experts drawn from the fields of Irish history, Scandinavian history, Celtic studies, and archaeology – promoting new synergetic fields of research by adopting a methodology that is explicitly interdisciplinary.

Last updated 3 April 2014 History (Email).