Anglo-Norman Parks in Medieval Ireland is a brand new book by Four Courts Press. This interesting and informative publication is written by Fiona Beglane, who is a lecturer in archaeology at the Institute of Technology Sligo, and also a consultant zooarchaeologist.
In it she attempts to examine the surviving evidence for medieval parks in Anglo-Norman Ireland. The publication concentrates on parks from the period 1169 to 1350, but also discusses what happened to them in later periods. It employs a thematic and multi-disciplinary approach, which combines a range of sources, including archaeological field work, historical research, place-name evidence and folklore. Key topics explored include the form and function of Irish medieval parks, their occurrence and location in the landscape, the status of and identity of their owners and a comparison with parks elsewhere, especially those in England. During the study at least 46 documented medieval parks were identified and a number of these were studied in detail.
In England, fallow deer, hunting, parks and the manor were inextricably linked but in Ireland the situation appears to have been more complex. Although hunting and venison were certainly important in some large, high-status Irish parks, the preservation of woodland for timber and the enclosing of pasture for domestic animals were also significant considerations. Parks were an important part of the manorial system of demarcating and structuring landholding in England; however, it seems they never became an essential feature of the Irish manor. The reasons for this lie in chronology, landscape and politics, and these form a major theme within the book.
This is well-researched and accessible publication that investigates a largely unexplored aspect of Irish medieval history. It should be of interest to anyone interested in the Middle Ages, especially from a landscape perspective.
Competition: The good folks at Four Courts Press have very kindly offered a copy of their new publication, Anglo-Norman Parks in Medieval Ireland, as a prize in Irish Archaeology.ie’s latest competition. To enter just leave a comment below (all comments have to be moderated so it might take and hour or two for them to appear). I’ll then pick a winner out of a hat (closing date from entries is 6 pm on Saturday 6th of September, the winner will be notified on Sunday the 7th of September).
Edit: Competition Winner
The winner of the book is Gearoid Kelleher, congratulations!