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Research Clusters

 • Medieval Ireland • Transnational Middle Ages • Digital Middle Ages • Gender and Women in the Middle Ages •  • Environment in the Middle Ages •  • Religion and the Church in the Middle Ages • 

Medieval Ireland

Trinity has been a world reference point for the study of medieval Ireland for over a century. Medievalists at Trinity continue to influence the scholarly development of medieval Irish studies in two principal ways: first, through the production of critical editions and calendars of unpublished primary sources; and, second, through publications, both specialist and generalist in nature, that shape our understanding of Irish society, politics and culture in the Middle Ages.

The interests of this group cover the early, high and late Middle Ages. They span Gaelic Ireland and its Anglicised regions, covering cultural, political and social history. A core area of specialism is medieval Dublin. Working in close partnership with both the archaeological community and national institutions based in Dublin, this group seeks to foster an understanding of the development and destruction of medieval Dublin, from its earliest history to the sixteenth century.

As well as undertaking interdisciplinary research, this cluster is also committed to communicating the results of academic research to the widest possible research. An annual day symposium (now in its sixteenth year) is staged in association with the Friends of Medieval Dublin and the proceedings of each conference have been edited by Seán Duffy. The Centre also organizes the biennial Trinity Medieval Ireland Symposium, the first volume of whose proceedings will be published in 2015.

  • Associated Staff: Seán Duffy; Peter Crooks; Simon Egan; Poul Holm; Immo Warntjes; Brid McGrath; Bernard Meehan; Rachel Moss; Katharine Simms
  • External associates: Sparky Booker (PhD [Dub.]; Queen’s University Belfast), Robin Frame (PhD [Dub.]; Durham), Stephen Harrison (PhD [Dub.]; Glasgow), Elizabeth Matthew (Reading), Colin Veach (PhD [Dub.], Hull)

Transnational Middle Ages

Transnational history explores the flow and exchange of peoples, ideas and commodities across national or proto-national boundaries. The medievalists at Trinity have particular expertise in the insular and northern/western European world between the fifth and fifteenth centuries. Particular attention is focused on the experiences and relationships of Ireland and Britain, with an emphasis on the impact of migration and war on society, politics, economy and culture. Interests cover both the Gaelic world and other communities. This group also examines transnational movements and structures under the themes of colonization and ‘empire’.

  • Associated Staff: Peter Crooks; David Ditchburn; Seán Duffy; Simon Egan; Mark Hennessy; Immo Warntjes; Bernard Meehan; Katharine Simms; Roger Stalley

Digital Middle Ages

The medievalists at Trinity have long been at the forefront of developments in humanities and computing (now known as ‘digital humanities’). Currently this theme is being progressed through the project Beyond 2022: Ireland’s Virtual Record Treasury project, on which see the section on Major Research Projects. Interest in digital humanities long pre-dated this initiative. In the mid-1980s the Irish Chancery Project established by Professor A. J. Otway-Ruthven established an early electronic database for the reconstruction of the records of the medieval Irish chancery that were destroyed by the explosion and fire at the Four Courts in 1922. The project received major thematic funding from the Irish Research Council which enabled the production of an online resource: CIRCLE: A Calendar of Irish Chancery Letters, c. 1244–1509 . It was also during the 1980s that Dr Katharine Simms began her work on the bardic poetry database, which is now available freely on the website of the Dublin Institute of Advanced Studies.

  • Associated staff: Peter Crooks, Seán Duffy, Katharine Simms

Gender and Women in the Middle Ages

This area is championed in particular by Catherine Lawless, who works at the intersections of art history and history, with a particular expertise on sanctity and iconography in later medieval and renaissance Florence; and Ruth Mazzo Karras, who works at the intersection of social, cultural and legal history with a particular interest in sexuality, women and masculinity.

  • Associated Staff: Ruth Karras; Catherine Lawless; Christine Meek; Katharine Simms.


Environment in the Middle Ages

Our colleagues in the Trinity Centre for Environmental Humanities collaborate closely with the Medieval History Research Centre and offer expertise on both the earlier and later middle ages, especially on the themes of climate and the marine environment. A recently completed project focused on ‘Historical Dynamics of Violence, Conflict and Extreme Weather in Medieval Ireland’ and the team is currently investigating similar issues in the ancient and medieval eastern Mediterranean region.

  • Associated Staff: Poul Holm, Francis Ludlow


Religion and the Church in the Middle Ages

Medievalists at Trinity have long since pursued research on religion and the church in the middle ages. In the recent past there was a particular focus on the papacy and the crusades and this line of investigation continues especially now on the papacy of the early middle ages. Scholars involved with this grouping have, however, increasingly focussed their attention on the cultural and social aspects of religion, covering such topics, as burial practices, saints, sanctity, hagiography and iconography, liturgical music, the interactions between Christian, Jews and Muslims, and concepts of time and the intellectual world of the middle ages. Several members of this group work cliosely with those involved in the Gender in the Middle Ages group.

  • Associated Staff: Ruth Karras; Catherine Lawless; Benjamin Savill; Immo Warntjes; David Ditchburn; Ann Buckley; Anna McSweeney; Christine Meek; Rachel Moss; Roger Stalley

Last updated 23 March 2021 (Email).