Post-Medieval and Later Historical Archaeology

The plantation of English settlers during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries in Ireland initiated a process during which both the natives and newcomers became profoundly engaged with greater cultural, economic and social processes that operated outside the immediate concerns of consolidating English governmental authority in Ireland. Through its work on the creation of early modern colonial landscapes and, in particular, on the development of plantation-period landscapes in Munster, from the Elizabethan period to the Restoration, this research group is directly engaged in some of the key archaeological debates of the post-medieval period in Ireland.

Other key areas of research include the development of Atlantic economy in the period c. 1650-1800, the industrial development of Irish towns (with special emphasis on utility and food-processing industries), and industrial energy and technological change in eighteenth and nineteenth century.

Research Staff
  • Dr. Colin Rynne
    Water-power and technological change in early medieval Europe, the archaeology of Plantation period Ireland, industrial landscapes of 18th and 19th century Ireland.
Current Postgraduate Researchers
Major Research Projects

The colonial landscapes of Richard Boyle, 1st Earl of Cork, c. 1602-1643
An interdisciplinary (history/archaeology) study of the colonial landscapes created by Richard Boyle (1566-1643) in 17th century Munster. Viewed by his contemporaries and by subsequent scholars as an exemplary English planter, who best realised the aims of the Munster Plantation by forging a model English Protestant ‘commonwealth’ on his estates, this project will examine - and question - the extent of his achievement. Utilising surviving collections of his estate papers, and employing modern archaeological survey techniques, his estate’s development and the plantation landscapes he created will be comprehensively mapped and its tenant population reconstructed and profiled.
IRCHSS Collobarative Research Project 2012 Principal investigators, Dr Colin Rynne and Dr David Edwards (Department of History, UCC).

Recent Publications (2009- present)


C. Rynne 2009 (with James Lyttleton eds) Plantation Ireland, settlement and material culture, c.1550 – c.1700. Four Courts Press, Dublin.

J. Lyttleton 2011 Blarney Castle. An Irish tower house. Four Courts Press, Dublin.

Forthcoming 2013:

C. Rynne (with Neil Jackman, Caitríona Moore) The Mill at Kilbegly An archaeological investigation on the route of the M6 Ballinasloe to Athlone national road scheme, and NRA Scheme Monographs 12. Dublin.

C. Rynne The archaeology of  water-power in early medieval Ireland c. AD 600-1100. Brill, Leiden.


C. Rynne 2009 ‘Haulbowline Island, Cork Harbour, Ireland, c. 1816-1832: a new archaeological perspective on Ireland’s “coloniality”’ in Audrey Horning and Marilyn Palmer (eds) Crossing paths or sharing tracks? Future directions in the archaeological study of post-1550 Britain and Ireland, Boydell and Brewer, Woodbridge 2009, pp. 167-77.

C. Rynne 2009 ‘Connecting south Kerry’ in John Crowley and John Sheehan (eds) The Iveragh peninsula. A cultural atlas of south Kerry. Cork University Press, Cork, 2009, pp. 247-53.

C. Rynne 2009 ‘The social archaeology of plantation period ironworks in Ireland: immigrant industrial communities and technology transfer, c. 1560-1640’ in C. Rynne and James Lyttleton (eds) Plantation Ireland, settlement and material culture, c.1550 – c.1700. Four Courts Press, Dublin, pp. 248-64.

C. Rynne 2009 ‘Water-power as a factor of industrial location in early medieval Ireland: the environment of the early Irish water-mill’, Industrial Archaeology Review, XXX1:2, 2009, 85-95.

C. Rynne 2010 "Cork city Glassworks, 1782-1841' in J.M. Hearne (ed.) Glassmaking in Ireland. From the medieval to the contemporary. Irish Academic Press, Dublin/Portland, Oregon, 135-144.

C. Rynne 2011 'Technological continuity, technological survival: the use of horizontal mills in western Ireland, c . 1632-1940', Industrial Archaeology Review, XXXIII:2, 2011, 94-103.

Recently completed postgraduate research

Elena Turk (Phd): Social Control and Capitalism: The Social Archaeology of Industrial dissenter community’s villages in Ireland. 2012

Niamh Doyle (Phd): The consumption and production of pottery in later-medieval Ireland, 2012

Joe Nunan (Mphil): The archaeology of the Munster plantation (2012)

Recently completed postdoctoral research

Dr James Lyttleton (IRCHSS fellow) 2011-12: Native and newcomer in early modern Offaly, shifting cultural identities: an archaeological perspective.

Seminar and Lecture Series

Please visit our Seminar/Lecutre Series page for details on upcoming talks being delivered by staff, student researchers and visiting speakers.

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