Tuesday 15 April 2014

Battle of Clontarf: an exhibition and two websites

The 1000th anniversary of the Battle of Clontarf has inevitably and quite rightly seen a flurry of lectures, conferences, festivals etc crop up in my weekly events listings. With Good Friday almost upon us, here are a couple more projects to enjoy and continue the discovery.

Emperor of the Irish Exhibition

This important medieval milestone is being celebrated in the Long Room of Trinity College Dublin in a unique exhibition that presents the only item known to have been in Brian Boru's presence: the famous 9th-century decorated manuscript known as the Book of Armagh.

The exhibition also includes some of the Library’s greatest medieval Irish treasures such as the Book of Leinster and the Brian Boru harp. Also displayed is a collection of outstanding large-scale graphics designed by Cartoon Saloon (producers of the Academy Award nominated animated film The Secret of Kells), which has been inspired by the exhibition’s themes.

In the popular imagination Clontarf was the culmination of a long war between Viking invaders/settlers and the most powerful of all Irish kings. The historical reality was not so simple, of course, and both the history and the legend of Brian are examined in the exhibition.

The exhibition has a dedicated website, Emperor of the Irish, which is arranged thematically.

Battle of Clontarf website

Created by a team of medieval historians and computer specialists at Trinity College Dublin, the Battle of Clontarf website aims to give students and the public access to historical and archaeological information and resources on one of the most emblematic battles in Irish history.

It sets the battle in its social context, exploring daily life in Viking Age Ireland, and examines the rivalries between the key players in the battle. It features dynamic interactive maps to allow investigation of Viking raids, settlement development, Brian Boru’s military campaigns and what happened on Good Friday, 23 April 1014. There's also a timeline to follow, which shows the different challenges Brian had to overcome in order to become high-king of Ireland.

An important section of this website also explores the many different ways in which Brian and the battle have been remembered in the thousand years since it occurred.

More events related to the Battle of Clontarf anniversary can be seen at the official events website.