Photo of a group of nine archaeological team members excavating square grids in a grassy field with mountains in the background

Recent excavations at Dún Ailinne, Co. Kildare; photo by Douglas Campana

Ireland Before the Saints and Scholars:

Excavations at the Iron Age Site of Dún Ailinne, Co. Kildare

Pam J. Crabtree

ISAW Visiting Research Scholar

This lecture will take place online; a Zoom link will be provided via email to registered participants.

Registration is required at THIS LINK.

While Early Medieval Ireland is well-known from both history and archaeology as the “land of saints and scholars”, the Iron Age period that precedes it is poorly known. Dún Ailinne in County Kildare is one of the few Iron Age sites that have been extensively excavated. It is known as one of the Iron Age royal sites because it is often grouped together in Irish early medieval documents with several other large hilltop sites, including Tara, Rathcroghan, and Emain Macha. Excavations at the site began in the late 1960s under the direction of the late Professor Bernard Wailes and continued until 1975. These excavations explored about 10% of the site. Magnetometer and resistivity surveys were carried out in the mid-2000s to explore the remaining 90% of the site and to guide future excavations. A new program of excavation at the site began in 2016. This talk will focus on all three periods of excavation, with a particular focus on the animal bone remains and bone artifacts. The talk will conclude with a discussion of the New Pastures project that is applying cutting-edge technologies to the study of the animal bones in order to understand Iron Age animal husbandry.

Pam J. Crabtree is a Visiting Research Scholar at ISAW for the 2023-24 academic year. She is an archaeologist and Professor of Anthropology at New York University where she has taught since 1990. She served as the Anthropology Department’s Director of Undergraduate Studies from 2018 to 2023. Crabtree received her BA (Magna cum Laude) in Art History and Economics from Barnard College in 1972 and her MA (1975) and PhD (1982) in Anthropology from the University of Pennsylvania. She was an Overseas Visiting Scholar at the Archaeology Department of the University of Southampton (UK) from 1977 to 1979.

Crabtree is a zooarchaeologist who uses archaeologically-recovered animal bones to study animal husbandry practices, hunting patterns, ancient diets, animal domestication, and the ritual use of animals. She is particularly interested in the archaeology of Early Medieval northwestern Europe, including the transition from the Roman to the post-Roman world and the origins of towns in the early medieval period.  She is the author of Early Medieval Britain: The Rebirth of Towns in the Post-Roman West (Cambridge University Press, 2018).

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