From Crannógs to Courts and Cows to Commerce: Daily Life in Early Medieval Ireland Cert of Attendance - sc18

Fact File

Course Title: From Crannógs to Courts and Cows to Commerce: Daily Life in Early Medieval Ireland

College: Adult Continuing Education

Duration: 6 weeks - Wednesday 7-9pm, 29 January to 5 March 2014

Teaching Mode: Part-Time

Lectures, in-class discussion

Qualifications: Cert of Attendance

NFQ Level: N/A

Costs: €150

Entry Requirements: Applicants must be: Over 18 years of age by course commencement

Course Code: sc18

Closing Date: Wednesday 22 January 2014


Venue: Brookfield Health Science s Complex, room 301, UCC

This course is designed for people who simply want to know more about how we used to live. The emphasis is on exploring how early medieval Irish people understood their world and their neighbours. Archaeology is about discovery: about learning how people used to live through the remains of their material worlds, their homes, possessions, and bodies. The past 20 years have seen huge advances in our understanding of Ireland's past, thanks to the huge increase in archaeological excavations. No previous knowledge of Ireland’s past is required for this course: all we will need is a curiosity about life in Ireland a thousand years ago. In these lectures, we will learn answers to questions such as: why were cows better than money; did we import olive oil; what toys did children play with; and why was moss so important in 11th century Dublin?!

Course Details

The early medieval period (8th to 12th centuries) is one of the richest periods of Ireland’s history and presents us with family homes and royal courts, cemeteries and farms, rich and poor, and everything in between. Magnificent works of art such as the Tara Brooch and the Cross of Cong display the rich technical and artistic ability of early craftsmen while Brehon Law records the fines and punishments, entitlements and rewards of Irish society. The historical texts note plagues and famine, wars and divorces, the deaths of saints and kings, and the arrival of the Vikings and the Normans. Alongside all of this, the triumphs and tragedies of birth, life and death continued in homes across the country, and in Ireland’s early towns. This lecture series will explore the daily lives of people in Ireland as uncovered by archaeologists and historians. We will also connect with UCC’s Medieval and Renaissance Society for some hands-on sessions with replica early medieval costume, weapons, and artefacts.

1. Entering the World of Early Medieval Ireland.
An introduction to the archaeology and history of 8th to 12th century Ireland.

2. No Place Like Home: Being at Home in Ireland. 
What sort of houses did people live in and what do those houses tell us about family life and structure?

3. A Matter of Life and Death: The Power of the Church. 
The medieval church was immensely powerful and affected all levels of society but was it threatened by the arrival of Viking paganism?

4. The Cattle Raid of Cooley – Farmers, Farming, and Raiding.
Early medieval Ireland was a farmers paradise, but why were cows so valuable?

5. From Crafts to Commerce – Making, Buying and Selling. 
Not everything could be grown in Ireland, what goods did we import, how, and did we use olive oil?

6. We Built this City – Ireland’s First Towns. 
Ireland’s first towns emerged during the tenth and eleventh centuries, but could these farmers adapt to urban living?

Course Practicalities

This course is delivered as six two-hour themed sessions. Each session will have 2 parts and a short break. Each session will deliver new information via casual lectures, but interaction, questions, and discussion of topics raised during the lectures will be encouraged. The aim of the course is to get the participants to think and talk about what life was like 1000 years ago. It is hoped to interact with UCC’s Medieval and Renaissance Society to provide opportunities for participants to handle replica artefacts like swords, bowls, fabrics, and tools.


Short courses are non-assessed.

Who Teaches This Course

Dr Rebecca Boyd, Adult Continuing Education, UCC

Dr. Boyd is an expert in the archaeology of Viking and medieval Ireland. Having trained as a professional archaeologist, she then gained a PhD for her work on what the archaeological remains of houses can tell us about family and daily life in Viking Ireland. Her research is oriented around people in the past, exploring how they lived and worked, and the ways in which they thought about and related to the world around them. Her aim in this course is to bring this people-centred approach to exploring the rich world of Ireland over 1000 years ago.

Further Contact Information

Regina Sexton, Short Course Co-ordinator
T: 00353 21 4904700

Karen Hennessy
T: 00353 4904737/4904700

Unfortunately this course is now closed.  Click here to return to the January 2014 listing

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