Confirmed speakers

This should now be the full list of speakers for the conference (obviously subject to change).

Speakers come from a number of disciplines, chronological time periods (including the present day) and countries.  This promises to be an exciting line up and we will keep it updated as more details come available. 

Our keynote speakers will be Professor Mike Parker-Pearson of University College London and Professor Clark McPhail of University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. 

Prof Mike Parker-Pearson, Institute of Archaeology, University College London

Gatherings at Durrington Walls and Stonehenge

Recent research on Stonehenge and its associated complex of monuments has shed light on the nature of Late Neolithic gatherings, providing new insights into mobilization, resource provision, food preparation, timing and longevity. In particular, the results from Durrington Walls will be discussed alongside the large-scale changes in society and culture in 3rd millennium BC Britain.

Mike Parker Pearson is Professor of British Later Prehistory at University College London. He has a wide-ranging interest in prehistory, most notably his work on Stonehenge, its purpose and people. He is also completing a multi-disciplinary of diet and mobility among the Beaker people in Britain 2500-1700 BC and has worked in the Outer Hebrides since 1991, in particular on settlement and society from the Bronze Age to the post-medieval period on the island of South Uist. His work on funerary archaeology is well known, along with his archaeological and ethno-archaeological field research in Madagascar. He has published 18 books and over 100 academic papers.

Prof. Clark McPhail University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. 

The Life Course of Temporary Gatherings

Most collective behavior and/or collective action scholars have advanced their explanans without first specifying, observing and describing their explananda.  Since 1967 I have been observing and recording the activities in which two or more persons engage with or in relation to one another in political, religious, sport, and convivial gatherings. My objective has been to establish the range of phenomena to be explained.  I have also studied the assembling or mobilization processes that produce temporary gatherings as well as the routine, emergency or coerced dispersing processes that bring them to an end.  Hence the title of my talk -  “the life course of temporary gatherings”- that will frame my presentation. Although I have done research on the “place” of gatherings, and on repertoires of different forms of gatherings, my talk will concentrate on the forms and dynamics of individual and collective actions within gatherings.   

I have drawn on my extensive field notes, slides, film and videotape records to inductively generate a taxonomy of approximately fifty elementary forms of collective action (EFCA) in which two or more persons have engaged in most of the more than one-hundred-fifty gatherings I have examined.  These EFCA involve the directions in which two or more proximate persons are facing, the sounds their mouths are voicing, the various ways in which which their hands are gesturing or manipulating, and the locomoting/posturing of their lower limbs. These enable quantitative estimates of the proportions of persons in a gathering participating in one or more EFCA over time and hence a window into the dynamics of collective actions within gatherings.  

Repertoires of elementary forms of collective action may well shift over time and place; some may remain similar if not the same.  I suspicion many of these EFCA extend not only back into the 20th and 19th centuries, but into earlier centuries as well. I welcome corrective criticism from the archaeologists and historians at the conference.  The collective actions I have studied appear to develop in three ways. (1) Two or more participants, e.g., companions who have assembled together, may interdependently generate some of the EFCA (e.g., conversing); (2) organizers or speakers – third parties – solicit and/or direct other EFCA (e.g., calls for gesturing by organizers); (3) other EFCA are independently generated by individual participants (e.g., unsolicited clapping and cheering).  

I’ve drawn on the social behaviorist theoretical perspective of George Herbert Mead, and the empirical support by contemporary neuro-scientists for many of Mead’s ideas, to develop an explanation for these three paths to collective action. I argue that most gathering members have assembled with, remain together, and disperse with with one or more companions, and,  that all participants are both purposive actors and creatures of habit. I will touch on these explanantia as time permits. Clark McPhail is an emeritus Professor of Sociology at the University fo Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. He studies the life course of temporary gatherings - the assembling processes that form them, the dispersing processes that bring them to an end and the alternating and varied individual and collective actions that comprise the gathering itself.

He has employed: survey research to study the assembling process; field notes, slides, films, videotape, and systematic quantitative recording to establish what occurs in gatherings; inductive reasoning from the early records to create a taxonomy of elementary forms of collective action EFCA); experiments and computer simulations to produce and analyze many of those EFCA.  

He has just completed the analysis of one-minute systematic observation samples taken every ten minutes by 60 trained and strategically positioned observers over the course of a two-hour pre-rally period, a six hour rally period, and a one-hour post rally period during a gathering of more than 500,000 persons on the National Mall in Washington DC.  

Some results have appeared, and more will appear, in several journal articles as well as in Beyond the Madding Crowd: Social Organization and Purposive Actors now in preparation.  This book is a sequel to his The Myth of the Madding Crowd  (1991) that received the (1993) distinguished book award from the American Sociological Association’s Section on Collective Behavior and Social Movements. His sixty journal articles and book chapters include reports of research on participation in the 1960s U.S. urban riots, a national study of the policing of college and university community protest and convivial gatherings, and many pieces on changes in the policing of gatherings over the past five decades.  

Dr Edel Bhreathnach, Discovery Programme

Medieval Gatherings

Public gatherings were an essential part of the proper working of societies until recent times. In medieval Ireland, assemblies ranged from the national or provincial to the very local. Some were called before a military campaign, others to inaugurate a new king. Many were simply a community gathering together to arrange routine seasonal needs such as reaping the harvest or administering law. This paper examines the types of gatherings that occurred, the sites where they happened, why they happened and what the fringe activities were at these communal meetings!


Dr Dominic Bryan, Institute of Irish Studies, Queens University Belfast

Public Space and Power – Ritual and Identity in a ‘Shared’ Belfast

Contemporary violent conflict in Northern Ireland appeared to start with Civil Rights parades and end with disputes over Orange parades. Conflict continues to manifest itself through the expression of identity at public rituals. This paper will identify why rituals are important in politics in Northern Ireland. It will suggest that participation in rituals appears to influence civic identities. In turn, the ability to participate in these rituals is a function of control of public space and power to control that public space has shifted dramatically in the last 50 years. By examining changes to ritual practice in Belfast this paper will argue that participation in a shared city is important for political transformation in Northern Ireland.

Dr Stefan Bergh, Dept of Archaeology, NUI, Galway

Meeting at the edge – Turlough Hill as a place of prehistoric assembly

Mountains and high ground are often venerated as special places. It is their enigmatic quality of high places, their prominence and permanence in both the mental and physical landscapes that draws us to them. The mountains and uplands of Ireland were actively used in various ways from the Neolithic through to the Iron Age, and the wide range of archaeological remains show that many were used for public ceremonies.

The extraordinary collection of prehistoric remains on Turlough Hill in the Burren Co. Clare, indicates that this conspicuous mountain had a unique role in the prehistoric landscape of the Burren and beyond.  In this paper it is suggested that the exposed summit was a place for large communal gatherings, and the character and role of these, and their wider implications will be discussed.

Patrick Gleeson, UCC

Gathering the Nations: Kingdoms, Communities and Civil Society in Early Medieval Ireland

In early medieval Ireland there was a hierarchy of kingship in which each level or scale of political community would have had a specific landscape set aside for the purposes of assembly. Consequently, we can hypothesise that a minimum of 200 assembly places, up to a maximum of 2000, existed in early medieval Ireland at any one time. By far the most important type of Irish assembly was the óenach. Although conventionally understood as a market/fair, the óenach was nonetheless, associated with horse-racing, games, feasting, entertainment, and indeed, it held legal and judicial functions, a characteristic which firmly places it at the heart of civil society. Despite its importance and centrality to the practice of lordship and exercise of power, only a handful of definite óenach landscapes have been securely identified previously. The Óenach Project was established in UCC to address this issue, and by examining the origin, nature and evolution of assembly practices, it is systematically cataloguing documented and un-documented assembly landscapes across Ireland. This paper will present some of the preliminary findings, focusing specifically on the archaeological and toponymic footprint of assembly practices within a northwest European context. It will examine how these places were utilised by different scales of community to address issues pertaining to the nature and development of their society, and how these landscapes and practices were implicated in broader process of polity building, and the origins of regional and national scales of identity. 

Patrick Gleeson received his BA in Archaeology and History from UCC and an MA in Medieval Archaeology from the University of York before returning to UCC for his PhD in 2009. This examines Landscapes of Kingship in Early Medieval Ireland, and is funded by a WJ Leen studentship from UCC and an Irish Research Council scholarship, and will be submitted a few weeks before the conference in October. In December 2011 he established The Óenach Project through a grant from the Irish Research Council.

Dr Hans Hognestad, Centre for Cultural and Sports Studies, Telemark University, Norway

Identity, power and the sociality of football

As a social drama football (soccer)  has held a privileged position in many nations for more than a century.  Football clubs serve as symbols of local identities on a global scale. As a consequence millions of people, predominatly men, structure their everyday lives around the social gatherings which the game offers during a season. The passionate concern for the football club, more often than not refered to as a collective “we”, works as the Archimedean point of such gatherings.  This involvement entails much more than just going to games. In modern societies it can be argued that football for many offers a bodily sociality and a sense of community which is difficult to find elsewhere.

During the last couple of decades the game has been heavily influenced by what the Scottish sociologist Richard Giulianotti labels hypercommodification, evident in anything from rocketing player salaries to lucrative deals for televising live football on TV. Some fans are alienated by these processes which challenge notions of both authenticity and a sense of control of the social and cultural practices of the game.  Based on empirical studies in Scotland, Norway and England over a 20 year period I shall in this paper look at examples of how identities are moulded in football and discuss this against moral notions about who “the real football fan” is within a neoliberal context.

Dr Hans Hognestad is a Cand. Polit. in Social Anthropology from University of Oslo, Dr. of sport and social sciences from The Norwegian School of Sport Sciences, 2004. Research and publications based on studies of football fan cultures in England, Scotland and Norway, discussing questions of identity, power and globalization. Sport and development studies in Zambia and Kenya, focused on questions about power, autonomy and dependency. Teaches Sociology of Sport at Telemark University College.

Dr Jonathan Lanman, Institute of Cognition and Culture, QUB

Ritual and Divergent Modes of Cohesion

Scholars employ a variety of metaphors to discuss human connections,  including: "ties", "bonds", "links," "social glue", “solidarity”, and "cohesiveness". In this presentation, I will discuss emerging research in the cognitive and social sciences that attempts to more systematically understand the psychological mechanisms underlying social connections and how ritual participation impacts these mechanisms.  Frequent and relatively tame rituals help produce psychological connections to imagined communities (group identification) while rare and dysphoric ritual experiences help produce the intense psychological connections normally reserved for close kin (psychological kinship).   I will present both the theoretical rationale and the initial empirical results of the Ritual, Community, and Conflict project, which aims to test this account across the ethnographic, historical, and archaeological record.

Dr Jonathan Lanman is a Lecturer in Cognition and Culture at Queen’s University Belfast. He previously taught as a Departmental and College Lecturer at Oxford from 2009-2011. Dr. Lanman is interested in applying the methods and theories of both social and cognitive anthropology to issues in the study of religion, atheism, morality, and intergroup relations. At present, he is collaborating with anthropologists and psychologists on an ESRC funded project, entitled Ritual, Community, and Conflict, to ascertain the effects of ritual on ingroup cohesion and intergroup relations across a range of contexts.

Michael MacDonagh, NRA

Under the same night sky- the architecture and meaning of Bronze Age stone circles in mid-Ulster

With over 100 stone circle sites in mid-Ulster there is clear evidence of a once thriving Bronze Age society across the region with a shared identity. The function of these circle sites to the various communities may have been as varied as they are numerous. Some are clearly more funerary monuments than others, some large and complex where gatherings can be easily imagined and others simple constructs. With all their differences however, the circle sites have much more in common than they differ and clear links between the various stone circle building communities are patently obvious in various common elements of the stone circle architecture. With a long held acceptance that they may in some way be linked to heavenly movements, archaeological discussion of the Ulster circles has tended to focus on the often accompanying stone row alignments and their direction and positioning to various lunar positions on significant dates. Remarkably little attention has been paid to the actual layout of the various multi-circled complexes, such as at Beaghmore and Copney, County Tyrone. Initial research in this area shows clear evidence of similarities in the basic spatial layout of various complexes, reinforcing the concept of regional identity and social and ritual cohesion. It is clear that the design and layout of the circles in these complexes was deliberate, not random. The inspiration for laying out the circles in certain common patterns and the intent behind that is explore in this paper. The research challenges us to move away from seeking astronomical accuracy on the part of our prehistoric ancestors. Rather it urges us to seek the ritual artists in those prehistoric communities, to explore their shared veneration of the moon and to ask why?

Michael MacDonagh is a Senior Archaeologist with the National Roads Authority (NRA) in the Republic of Ireland, currently on secondment to the North South Ministerial Council. He has been back in Ireland for 12 years since his return from several years working in Berlin. Prior to that he spent much of the 1990s working in Northern Ireland, and roamed the Sperrin Mountains during the summer periods as part of a DoE (NI)-funded Bogland Survey. He became interested in stone circles through discovery of a number of them as part of that survey work, and through his survey and excavation of Copney stone circle complex in County Tyrone in the mid 1990’s.


Dr Julia E. M. Cussans, Archaeological Solutions Ltd 
Julia E. M. Cussans 1, Stephen J. Dockrill 2, Ian Armit 2, Julie M. Bond 2, Jo T. McKenzie 2, (1Archaeological Solutions Ltd., 2University of Bradford)

‘You’re invited to a party, don’t turn up legless’: case studies in feasting and community gatherings in Iron Age Scotland.

This paper examines evidence for gatherings at two Scottish Iron Age sites based on archaeozoological data. The first is the primary ditch deposit from Old Scatness Broch, Shetland. This large deposit of prime meat animals, including whole beasts and additional leg joints, has been interpreted as a community feasting event and display of conspicuous consumption, where the remains of the feast were left on display within the boundary ditch to indicate the wealth and high status of the settlement. The nature of this deposit compared to the more typical, ‘everyday’ midden deposits will be discussed. The second case study looks at the site of Broxmouth Iron Age Hillfort in East Lothian and the representation of pig body parts, which suggest an over representation of porcine forelimbs. Here the interpretation of pigs and pork leg joints being used as tributes suggests the coming together of the local/regional community at the focal site of Broxmouth. In both of these case studies the sharing and exchange of food is interpreted as a means of bringing the community together and likely establishing and reinforcing power hierarchies. 

Dr Julia E. M. Cussans currently works as an archaeozoological specialist for Archaeological Solutions Ltd. in East Anglia. She is a full and active member of the International Council for Archaeozoology, the Professional Zooarchaeology Group and the Association for Environmental Archaeology. Julia previously worked as Environmental Officer for the North Atlantic Research Unit, University of Bradford where she worked on a number of large research projects including Old Scatness, Shetland and Broxmouth Iron Age Hillfort, East Lothian.

James Bonsall1, Dr. Chris Gaffney2, Prof. Vince Gaffney3, Heather Gimson4, Robert M. Chapple5, Wolfgang Neubauer6
1University of Bradford, Earthsound Archaeological Geophysics, 2University of Bradford,  3University of Birmingham,4Earthsound Archaeological Geophysics, 5William Dunlop Archaeological Photographic Archive, Irish Radiocarbon and Dendrological Dates, 6Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Archaeological Prospection and Virtual Archaeology, University of Vienna

Tonight we’re going party like it’s 1985! The Archaeology of Festivals in Geophysical Data

In recent years archaeological geophysicists have investigated landscapes from two countries that identified similar patterns of archaeological remains from two distinct yet contemporary cultural groups. This paper will investigate known gatherings of large volumes of people to determine what archaeological investigations can suggest about similar large-scale events of the deep past.  

The Stonehenge Hidden Landscapes Project (SHLP) has been carrying out high resolution magnetometry across 8 sq km surrounding the iconic UK World Heritage Site in Wiltshire, an area known to have been a focal point for gatherings during the Neolithic and later periods. The 2010-2012 SHLP data identified a number of previously unrecorded prehistoric monuments that emphasise the importance of the landscape surrounding Stonehenge. A large amount of dispersed ferrous (iron) debris were also found which represents the material remains of large volumes of people engaged in seasonally recurring settlement activity that is quite distinct from the surrounding archaeology. The settlement was abandoned abruptly (as recorded elsewhere) following a conflict at a nearby battlefield site between the native population surrounding Stonehenge and those in the occupied settlement. A second geophysical study commissioned by the Office of Public Works, assessed an area on the northern shores of Lough Derg, Co. Galway, Ireland. This survey also returned a similar pattern of material remains for large-scale settlement activity suggested by increased background noise within the geophysical data. Notably however, ferrous responses were largely absent from the Galway data and the settlements appeared smaller and more focused than those in Wiltshire. 

Following the geophysical assessments, documents, maps and oblique photographs have confirmed that the Wiltshire settlement dates to the 1972-1984 AD Stonehenge Free Festivals, attended by an estimated 65,000 people. The festivals ended following the Battle of the Beanfield, a controversial confrontation on the 1st June 1985 AD between police and festival goers. Just 8 weeks after the battle, 10,000 people gathered at the Galway settlement which was occupied for the first time for a week long gathering of the Irish Scout Jamboree at Portumna Castle. The Wiltshire experience of widespread ferrous debris and social unrest was not repeated in Galway, possibly due to a slightly lower age demographic, stricter cultural traditions and limited to access to stimulants.

Dr Una MacConville
Sociologist and Visiting Fellow, Centre for Death and Society, University of Bath, UK 
Gatherings on the ‘Far side banks of Jordan’ 
Perceiving the presence of deceased relatives gathering around a terminally ill person—more commonly referred to as deathbed visions—is a relatively frequent experience in the last weeks and days of life. While the evidence for gatherings of this form is non-material and thus difficult to capture, deathbed visions are well documented, in the historical record and also in early medical textbooks. 

The Cyclopaedia of Anatomy and Physiology (1836) cites these visions as an indicator of impending death. The person who is dying may share the experience with friends and relatives and occasionally close family members report sharing in these experiences. They are often joyful experiences, frequently bringing a sense of peace and comfort but sometimes they can be frightening for the dying person and family members. Although they seem to be reassuring for patients and family, health care professionals tend not to talk about them. This paper will present results of a recent Irish study with health care professionals regarding their observations and understandings of these experiences and will review the considerable international research on this form of gathering.  

Dr Candace Weddle, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Art History Anderson University South Carolina USA

Blood, Fire and Feasting: The Sensory Experience of Greco-Roman Sacrifice

Large-scale sacrifices were among the most important and impressive Greco-Roman gatherings. Sources speak of spectacles in which more than 100 bovines were slaughtered and consumed in one day. The sacrifices and accompanying feasts served as spiritual and physical gatherings: men signalled devotion to the deities by burning portions of the animals, then they and their gods met again at the banqueting table, where all were understood to partake in a communal meal. The sensory elements of sacrifices were myriad. In addition to visual spectacle, prayers and songs were performed and the smells of incense, blood and roasting flesh filled the air, those smells being the primary vehicle of communication with the gods. Given the ritual importance of multiple senses, we archaeologists have been too reliant on visual evidence (e.g., ritual structures and artistic representations) in examining the sacrificial experience. In this paper, I offer new evidence for the multi-sensory impact of sacrifice, focusing on the senses of hearing, smell, taste and touch. I utilize archaeological and textual evidence as well as insights gained by attending Islamic bovine sacrifices. I am concerned with communal worship and consumption as well as with the disposal of sacrificial refuse, an enormous task rarely mentioned in ancient sources but visible in the archaeological record, and which also had ritual implications.

Dr. Candace Weddle is Assistant Professor of Art History at Anderson University in South Carolina. She has excavated with teams at Neolithic, Roman and Byzantine sites in Romania, Italy and Turkey, where she was a member of the Austrian Archaeological Institute’s team excavating the “Temple of Domitian” in Ephesos.  Dr. Weddle’s primary research interest is the sensory experience of Greco-Roman life, especially the ways in which we can use archaeological and literary evidence to better understand the sights, sounds, smells, tastes and other sensations experienced by worshipers during ancient

Prof Elizabeth FitzPatrick, NUI Galway

Shifting Territorial Boundaries and Medieval Assembly Places

Using a case study of Óenach Locha Gile, the assembly place of Lough Gill, Co. Sligo, in the northwest of Ireland, this paper discusses how assembly places could become detached from the dynasties that habitually used them. Óenach Locha Gile was the gathering site of the túath of Calraighe which was the patrimony of the Uí Ruairc early medieval kings of the expansive over-kingdom of Uí Briuin Bréifne. After 1173 the territory of Uí Briuin Bréifne contracted and Óenach Locha Gile became borderland between the warring septs of Upper Connacht. The landscape archaeology and topographical lore of Óenach Locha Gile is identified and the ancestral attachment of the Uí Ruairc to this place is demonstrated as late as the sixteenth century. 
Elizabeth FitzPatrick is associate professor of Old World historical archaeology in the School of Geography and Archaeology, NUI, Galway. Her research focus is the archaeology and cultural history of medieval and early modern Gaelic peoples of north Atlantic Europe, with particular reference to their expressions of cultural identity in landscape, landholding and settlement and in everyday and specialized material culture.

Author and editor of six books and over forty articles, some of her major recent publications on assembly places and practices are ‘Formaoil na Fiann, hunting preserves and assembly places in Gaelic Ireland’, Proceedings of the Harvard Celtic Colloquium 32 (2012); ‘Aughris headland’ for the 2nd edition of the Atlas of the Irish rural landscape (2011); and Royal inauguration in Gaelic Ireland c. 1100–1600: a cultural landscape study (2004).  

She is currently investigating social organization and cultural practices on the mensal lands of medieval Gaelic territories in Ireland, focusing, in particular, on assembly places and hunting grounds, and the settlements of service families that occupied mensal lands of the lordships. religious ceremonies. 

Dr Richard Madgwick, Cardiff University
A Passion for Pork: Feasting in southern Britain from the Neolithic to the Iron Age 
This paper examines the evidence for feasting and communal ceremony in southern Britain during two transitional phases of prehistory. Focussing principally on animal bones recovered from feasting centres, the paper will compare and contrast the character of these ceremonies during the late Neolithic and the Bronze Age/Iron Age transition. Both periods have evidence for vast communal feasting centres. Limited excavations at late Neolithic Durrington Walls, adjacent to Stonehenge, have yielded in excess of 100,000 animal bones and Late Bronze Age/Early Iron Age Potterne, also in Wiltshire, produced more than 130,000 bones during excavation of less than 1% of its surface area.  A uniting feature of the sites in question is that the faunal assemblages are oftendominated by pigs.However, patterns of processing, consumption and deposition vary greatly between sites and periods. Isotope evidence also indicates that pigs werehusbanded in different ways and that many were brought from afar, indicating that these ceremonies drew crowds from well beyond the immediate vicinity of the sites. The impetus for, and social role of these feasts remains unclear but maintaining social hierarchy, mobilising large workforces and the substitution of pigs (and feasting) for other commodities that supported inter-community networks are considered.

Richard Madgwick is a British Academy post-doctoral fellow, who specialises in the study of animal bones. His research focuses principally on British prehistory, where he has worked on feasting sites from the Neolithic to the Iron Age, employing macroscopic, microscopic and biomolecular approaches to reconstruct human-animal relations. He has also worked on projects in Albania (Butrint), Crete (Praisos), Turkey (Çatalhöyük) and Latvia (Ecology of Crusading).

Dr Louise Nugent, Independent Scholar

Gatherings of faith: Pilgrimage in medieval Ireland

Pilgrimage in medieval Ireland was a devotional practiced engaged in by all social classes. The feast day of the saint was the main event in the pilgrimage calendar of all shrines being together people from a wide geographical area to pray and demonstrate their devotion to the saint. Alongside this pious activity was more secular celebration which involved feasting, dancing and merriment. This paper hopes to explore the archaeological and historical evidence for pilgrimage in medieval Ireland focusing on sites such as Kildare, St Mullins and Croagh Patrick. It will explore the motivation of pilgrims and the evidence for their devotional activity at the shrine.

Louise Nugent is a Tipperary based archaeologist who has been working as a commercial archaeologist since 2001. She has a degree in Celtic Studies and Archaeology and a MA in Celtic Studies from UCC.  Her main research interests are medieval pilgrimage and religion. In 2009 she completed a doctoral thesis Pilgrimage in Medieval Ireland AD 600-1600 at the School of Archaeology UCD. She also writes a blog 'Pilgrimage in Medieval Ireland' about medieval and modern pilgrimage in Ireland.  

Edel Barry MPhil, Built Heritage Collective Ireland

Gatherings: The Archaeology of Railways in Ireland

The contribution of the development of the railway to industry and consequent social change in the nineteenth century is well known. With increased mobility, consumption grew, employment and emigration were affected, vernacular architecture began to change and the Irish landscape was altered both physically and figuratively.

The railway system was also a means of gathering, facilitating the assembly of people on a grand scale. The low cost of transport meant that for the first time, mass movement of those from all social classes was feasible. The effect of this can be seen in increased popularity of tourist areas, and attendance at sporting fixtures, religious pilgrimages and political events. Aside from increased mobilisation, the level of integration facilitated the spread of new ideas which had a strong impact on movements such as the Land League or Home Rule.
This paper will address the contribution of the railway to this movement of people and ideas, examining the material culture of the narrow gauge railways of Munster in order to assess what an archaeological study of these lines can contribute to the understanding of broader patterns of social change in 19th century Ireland.

Edel Barry MPhil is a buildings archaeologist with particular interest in the archaeology of industry and transport, and in the social archaeology of the industrial period. She completed MPhil research on the Archaeology of Narrow Gauge Railways in Munster at University College Cork in 2010, under the supervision of Dr Colin Rynne. A partner with Built Heritage Collective Ireland, she is currently undertaking a survey of Dublin south-west for the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

Stephen Dixon, MSc Candidate, IT Sligo
Archaeological and Anthropological aspects of 'forced gathering' from within the Jewish  Holocaust

The concept of 'forced gathering' has been researched from an archaeological, anthropological and memory driven perspective. Individual components such as liminality, monumentality, the built environment and landscape theory highlight Nazi segregation policies. Analysis of ghettoization, deportation and extermination policy illustrate that certain techniques of incarceration controlled fear and simultaneously produced a terror regime.After the initial use of propaganda policy by the National Socialist Party that fuelled the already present culture of anti-semitism, a significant and sinister shift in decision-making witnessed a move from persecution to exclusion  that saw major cities ‘holding’ Jews in purposefully manufactured locations, a preparatory step towards genocide. Ghettoization facilitated the next stage in the process, deportation by train to extermination centres, as communities were despatched from ‘round-up’ points to ‘unknown destinations’ further east.Arrival at industrialised death camps was the final stage of the journey for the majority, but not before further measures that reduced the individual to a state beyond life, a liminal entity in a place where extreme conditions prevailed. Each component of the strategy was monitored and managed, as fear was euphemistically dismissed by the perpetrator and the by-stander.

With his interest in archaeology stirred by Time Team in the early nineties Stephen thought the opportunity to study the subject had passed him by because of work commitments in the UK. However moving to Ireland in 2006 to do just that at I.T. Sligo saw Stephen qualify in the class of 2010 with a 1st Class Honours whilst simultaneously developing an interest in conflict archaeology and anthropology. He moved on to a Research Masters Degree which focuses on the Jewish Holocaust. He is also undertaking further research in his own time which is on the 'Irish Famine' and is very much a work in progress.

Pádraig Meehan, Independent Scholar

'Cargo Cults' in the Pacific; Irish Neolithic parallels? 

In 1960 David Attenborough described ourbreaks of new religions in the Pacific rim which he described as 'cargo cults'. During the Second World War more and more of these cults had arisen independently in response to first contact between outside technology and values and the indigenous populations of these areas. Charismatic local leaders oversaw rituals where 'cargo' or the consumer good was elevated, and cargo cult versions of aircraft, radios and military equipement rendered in mock-up form from available materials.

Since the 1960's the language of cargo cult has been tempered by quote marks and synonyms such as millenarianist or independence movements, or 'myth-dream‘ synthesis. Serge Cassen has mentioned cargo cults in the Breton Mesolithic-Neolithic context. Could the 'cargo cult‘ metaphor be applied to the opening act of the Irish Neolithic? Why, for example does the trajectory of the Irish landnam appear to re-rehearse the French one? In the six centuries after 3800 BC Irish architecture/art ascended the same gradient that of France during the previous six hundred years. Why is the pottery of the passage tomb tradition so crude when compared to contemporary vessels in other farming contexts? What is the significance of the folklore tradition of spinning attached to large swathes of the European passage tomb tradition?

Based in County Leitrim, Pádraig is an independent researcher in the field of prehistoric archaeology. A particularly interest is the question of how the Neolithic transition in Ireland may relate to the various megalithic traditions found here, especially passage tombs. These pursuits have drawn him into related areas of study; those of anthropology, archaeoastronomy, cultural astronomy, mythology and folklore, as well as the crossover point between archaeology and performance. He has scripted a number of performance pieces based around imagining artefacts and bones as living people, including a piece called An Evening with the Ancestors, performed in 2008. His paper on the possible alignment of Listoghil, Carrowmore, towards sunrise at the time of seasonal transitions was published in Internet Archaeology in 2013, and a co-authored paper on the century since the opening of the Carrowkeel passage tomb complex is forthcoming in the Proceedings of the RIA.

Prof Stuart Tyson Smith, University of California, Santa Barbara, US
Colonial Gatherings: The Presentation of Inu in New Kingdom Egypt and the British Imperial Durbar, a Comparison
A large assembly echoing a traditional Durbar was held in India in 1877 in order to proclaim Queen Victoria Empress of India. The event was a carefully scripted enactment of an imperial political and social hierarchy performed through ceremonies, costume, and the exchange of gifts and favors. The Egyptian ceremony of ‘presenting Inu’ involved a similar colonial gathering of Egyptians and Nubians in the context of a grand ceremony that was held annually at the Egyptian capital of Thebes during the New Kingdom (c. 1550-1070 BCE). The use of ‘native’ costume at both assemblies has sometimes been seen as reflecting a respect for native traditions that helped to integrate local into imperial hierarchies, but to what extent was this ‘nativeness’ a matter of cultural pride or a carefully constructed element embedded in an imperial ideology of self and other? Through an integration of archaeological and historical data, this paper explores the political, ideological and social dynamics underlying these important events through a comparison of the better documented British colonial assembly with its ancient Egyptian counterpart, demonstrating how these gatherings created tableaux of self and other that inscribed an imagined political and cultural hierarchy into the memories of participants and onlookers.

Stuart Tyson Smith is Professor and Chair of Anthropology at the University of California, Santa Barbara. His research focuses on the dynamics of cultural interaction, ethnicity and other axes of identity, ceramics and foodways, legitimization and ideology, sealings and administration, funerary practice and the social and economic dynamics of ancient Nilotic civilizations. He directs an archaeological project at Tombos in Sudanese Nubia that investigates the cultural dynamics of Egypt's New Kingdom empire and the emergence of the Nubian Dynasty in its aftermath. 

Dr Robert Hensey, Archaeological Research Professional, 
Crowd-sourcing in the Boyne Valley

Newgrange has always been of a place of gatherings. Many of the features of monument and related sites in the Boyne valley were constructed with public ceremony in mind. Construction materials were brought from surrounding regions, mountains and sea, engaging extended populations in the great work. Sizable groups must have come together to build the monument and to celebrate the religious events that took place there. People in the Bronze Age contributed to the monument too, and had their own rituals including communal feasts. Later pilgrims from Ireland or abroad left roman offerings outside the monument. Two hundred thousand visitors still travel to Newgrange every year, many of these come specifically to gather outside the monument as the winter solstice sunlight enters the chamber within. Consequently, at Newgrange we have a unique opportunity to observe the dynamic of large gatherings in the present and through this gain insights into how groups might have interacted with the monuments and landscapes in the past.

Dr. Robert Hensey is an archaeological researcher who specialises in religion and belief in the past with particular reference to the Irish Neolithic and Irish passage tombs. He has published and presented nationally and internationally on diverse aspects of the passage tomb tradition, especially as regards passage tomb art, ritual and chronology. He is currently completing a book about Newgrange for Oxbow Books and co-editing proceedings of a conference on the Archaeology of Darkness.

Simon O'Dwyer
Demonstration - Ancient Music Ireland

Ancient Music Ireland is providing a presentation of instruments from Ireland’s Stone Age, Bronze Age, Iron Age and Early Medieval times. This consists of Simon O’Dwyer playing a wide range of horns, trumpets, bone flutes, bronze bells, stone flutes and whistles. (all the instruments are exact reproductions – the originals reside in The National Museum of Ireland, the Ulster Museum, the Enniskillen Museum and others). During his presentation time Simon takes the audience on a journey from the first habitation in Ireland circa 8,000 BC through to the Early Medieval period 700 AD where his story ends when history begins.

Ancient Music Ireland’s research indicates strong possibilities as to the reasons why horns and trumpets were designed and how they may have been played.   It is interesting to note that musical instruments, which have their origins in prehistory, can evoke such live excitement today.  They create an interactive visual and audio point of interest and have performed at a range of gatherings such as the World Archaeology Congress in UCD in 2008 and the Celtic Congress in Maynooth in 2011. 

See: for recordings and on-going research. You can also find them on Facebook and youtube

No comments: