Thursday 26 July 2018

Trinity researcher maps Ireland's medieval wealth

Density analysis performed on the parishes contained
within the 1302-7 valuations demonstrates
markedly higher density within colonial regions.
A team of researchers at Trinity College Dublin has produced a series of maps to illustrate the distribution of wealth in medieval Ireland. 

The data used to create the maps is based on early 14th-century papal taxation sources as they can define the extent and impact of the early English colony by using parish incomes as proxies for local wealth.

The work, led by PhD Researcher in Geography at Trinity, Christopher Chevallier, and supervised by Dr Mark Hennessy, also quantifies the damage inflicted by the Great European Famine (1315-1317) and the impact of the Bruce Invasion (1315-1318, when Edward Bruce of Scotland claimed the High Kingship of Ireland). This research is timely as the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Faughart, the final clash of the Invasion, is approaching in October this year.

To gather the sources, the team visited archives in Armagh, Paris, Kew and even the Vatican Secret Archives.

One of the major findings was that Dublin’s economic hinterland was the most expansive and extended as far west as Mullingar, whereas Kilkenny’s hinterland was the densest. 

The post-invasion data shows that Gaelic Irish parishes weren’t uniformly impoverished. Rather, areas such as Thomond (which was ruled by the powerful Ó Briain dynasty) showed very high levels of wealth, suggesting a more complex Gaelic economy than often believed. Nevertheless, even after the devastation of the Bruce Invasion and Great European Famine, the colonial areas were still generally outperforming independent Gaelic areas.

You can learn  more about the research and view the maps on Trinity's website - click the map image above.