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Constructing Kingship in Early Medieval Ireland: Power, Place and Ideology

Patrick Gleeson

Medieval Archaeology, Volume 56, Number 1, 2012

EXPLORING HOW PLACE was implicated in discourses of power and kingship, this paper investigates the ways in which ideologies and cosmologies informed the production of sacred authority and the iconographies of royal sites in the period c AD 400‐800. This paper pertains to the evolution of early medieval kingship but also that institution’s relationship with prehistoric antecedents. It is suggested that the construction of localised small-scale kingships was as meaningful as those of the more prominent institutions such as Tara and Cashel. Through highlighting a NE‐SW axis redolent in royal landscapes, it is argued that kingship’s relationship with place was central to discourses over power, ideology and the ‘holy man’. This saw the early Irish church appropriate aspects of a cosmological scheme linked to the creation and (re)-imagining of royal sites.

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