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Research Clusters

 • Medieval Ireland • Transnational Middle Ages • Digital Middle Ages • Religion and the Church in Medieval Europe • 

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of medieval Irish studies in two principal ways: first, through the production of critical editions and calendars of unpublished primary sources; and, second, through publications, both specialist and generalist in nature, that shape our understanding of Irish society, politics and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.

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; Poul Holm, Katharine Simms
  • External associates: Robin Frame (PhD [Dub.]; Durham), 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 north European world between the fifth and fifteenth centuries. Particular attention is focused on the experiences of Ireland, Britain and Scandinavia, with an emphasis on the impact which migration had on society, politics, economy and culture. This group also examines transnational movements and structures under the themes of colonization and ‘empire’.

  • Associated Staff: David Ditchburn; Seán Duffy; Peter Crooks; Mark Hennessy; Poul Holm

Digital Middle Ages

The medievalists at Trinity have long been at the forefront of developments in humanities and computing (now known as ‘digital humanities’). 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

Religion and the Church in Medieval Europe

Scholars involved with this grouping focus their attention on papal politics and on the crusading movement but also on the study of religious conduct and belief in the medieval centuries. The crusades constitute a prominent element in this analysis but the papal records of the later middle ages also lend themselves to analysis of pilgrimage, penance and other aspects of devotion. This cluster works closely with the Centre for Mediterranean and Near Eastern Studies in the Classics department.

  • Associated Staff: Laura Cleaver; I.S. Robinson; David Ditchburn, Katharine Simms; Ann Buckley

Last updated 24 August 2015 (Email).