Sites you can read: sites with actual information on them - databases, maps, texts, news
archaeology.ie has a very useful database of all known archaeological monuments. This can be
searched by location or site-type on an on-line form - a drop-down list for townlands is particularly handy because of the need to enter the correct
spelling. The sites are shown on an aerial photograph with an overlay of the six-inch map. Alternatively, you can zoom in on the map of Ireland. This
is slower, but by the time you enlarge it to 1:100,000 the monuments appear, and it is pockmarked with the red dots which really gives an impression
of the density of archaeological monuments in most parts of Ireland. When you find a site you are interested in, it is possible to print out the record
with the map and aerial photograph and sometimes a description.
Also on this site is a searchable database of archaeological excavations, 1970-2000. As yet there are no summaries - for that you will need to
consult the Excavations Database (see below). You can also submit your own reports or apply for an excavation licence.
Excavations Database: Summary reports of all excavations which took place in Ireland from
1970 to 2007, as listed in the annual Excavations Bulletin. It is a searchable database, which can be browsed by year and county, or
searched more specifically on a wide rang of parameters including any word in the text. This site is provided by
Wordwell Books, who publish the Excavations Bulletin.
The Ordnance Survey Six-Inch Map First Edition online is a wonderful resource. A
seamlessly joined-up map of the whole of Ireland, circa 1840, showing every field and hut, and a lot of archaeological monuments which have since
disappeared. It is the coloured version of the map, and you can zoom in to a high magnification to examine details, as well as zooming out to see the
parish and barony boundaries at small scale - that's where the colour is handy. There are three sets of recent air photos to compare it with, and you
can overlay a modern hybrid air photo/map on the old map to compare locations. These maps are free to view online, and PDF files of both 6-inch and
later 25-inch maps can be purchased in A4 and full sheet sizes, but they are relatively expensive: bear in mind that although the digitised maps on
this site are copyright, the original paper maps are not, as government publications retain their copyright for only 50 years. In addition to the
historic mapping (and a PDF version of Lewis's Topographical Dictionary, 1837, free to download), the OSI website also has information on its
various modern mapping services and publications.
IreAtlas townland database: A very useful resource for checking details of local administrative
divisions. The smallest division of the Irish countryside is the townland. There are approximately 62,000 townlands in Ireland, ranging in size
from just over an acre to 7,012 acres.
Irish Archaeological and Historical Journals: A list, with complete tables of contents where possible. This
is a work in progress, and is gradually being expanded.
- Seandálaíocht: A good way of keeping up to date with what's going on: a blog
about current events, recent news items and so on. It is maintained by Brian Dolan, who is currently researching Iron Age and Early Mediaeval ironworking
for a PhD, so there is also a lot about ancient ironworking, including some videos of modern experiments. The side column has a series of links to recent
news items, links to the Seandalaiocht Twitter posts, and links to the
Archaeology Events Twitter page. There is also a good links section and some videos and still
The National Roads Authority (NRA) is an independent statutory body which has
overall responsibility for planning and supervision of construction and maintenance works on the main road network in Ireland. Much of its work since
its foundation in 1994 has involved the construction of a completely new road network. The extensive ground disturbance which this involves led to
archaeological rescue excavation on a massive scale. To co-ordinate this, the NRA has its own archaeological section. The NRA has thus become in recent
years one of the foremost archaeological institutions in Ireland, although the excavation work itself is contracted out. In addition to co-ordinating
the fieldwork, the NRA is also very active in presenting the results to the public, by publishing monographs, holding a yearly seminar and publishing a
magazine, Seanda, which is distributed free to libraries, schools,
colleges etc., and is freely available online in PDF format. The NRA website also gives access to a database of the hundrds of archaeological sites
excavated on road schemes. The most controversial of the NRA road schemes was the M3 motorway, which passes near Tara. To address this, it has its
own M3 Motorway Archaeology Website.
The National Library of Ireland site provides information about opening hours and facilities, along with information
about the various collections. There are on-line catalogues for Books and Periodicals, Manuscripts, Photographs, and Prints and Drawings. There is a
large collection of digitised photographs online. Sources is a digital version of the famous Hayes Catalogues of
manuscript sources and periodical sources for the history of Irish civilisation.
Documents of Ireland is an online database of text, images, maps, sounds and video. It aims to use digital
technology to preserve and disseminate the evidence of Ireland's past. It comprises nine projects, of which three are of particular interest to
archaeologists: the Corpus of Electronic Texts (CELT), Locus - database of Irish Placenames and Tracing Ireland's Lost Archaeology.
CELT, the Corpus of Electronic Texts, is an online collection of over 1100 contemporary and historical documents from
many areas, including literature and the other arts. Of particular interest to archaeologists are the early texts such as Annals and saints' Lives. The
texts are professionally edited and are accompanied by introductions, background information, graphics, translations where possible, and scholarly
bibliographies. They are available as HTML XML and SGML
Locus - Database of Irish Placenames aims to create a new Historical Dictionary of Irish Place- and Tribal
Names to replace the standard historical reference work, Hogan's Onomasticon Goedelicum.
Retracing Ireland's Lost Archaeology aims to publish the Plunket watercolours of antiquities in the Royal
Irish Academy, painted in 1847, and to identify as many as possible of the artifacts illustrated in them.
Placenames database of Ireland (incl NI). Official site of the rather Soviet-sounding Department of Community, Equality
and Gaeltacht Affairs. Be warned: it automatically comes on in Gaelic, and you have to click on a link in the top right-hand corner to read it in English. Browse by County
using interactive map or type in name. a link shows the location on Google Earth, and in many cases there are links to scans of the archives of the
Placenames Branch, showing historic versions and possible interpretations. Sound files are gradually being added, to give the accepted pronunciation.
There is also a Placename of the Day feature.
Placenames NI - The Northern Ireland Place-Name Project: An on-line database of the placenames of Northern
Ireland. A simple interface with three search types. Place-name Search allows you to enter a name or fragment of a name and search the entire Place-names
database. This brings you to a record with more details on the historic name, older forms, and references. Map Search allows you to browse and query a map
for townland names. You can zoom in not only to townlands but to a detailed view of the modern Ordnance Survey map. Index Search allows you to search for
place-names using an index. This brings you to the same page as Place-name Search.
Archaeology Data Service: The main purpose of the ADS is to preserve archaeological data in digital form, but
it also makes most of it available as an on-line database which can be searched free of charge. Irish material includes the Northern ireland Sites
and Monuments Record and the raw data of the analysis of animal bones from Knowth.
Institute of Archaeologists of Ireland: Not really a 'superlink', but I suppose it should go in here. Its aim is "to advance the profession of archaeology by seeking to promote
development, education, contact, regulation, high standards and public dissemination of its work." The website provides information on the Association
itself, details of its annual conference, and its journal, the Journal of Irish Archaeology.
BAJR - British Archaeological Jobs and Resources: Not just a Situations Vacant
site, but a wide-ranging guide to all aspects of archaeology. The Education section lists over 500 courses. The Directory: "Need to find a company in
Europe or a Specialist in ceramics? Where your nearest archaeology group is or the email of a curator?" Resources: from software to games; News,
announcements, events and a discussion forum. Information on volunteering opportunities in the UK and around the globe, a link to an online toolstore,
and an extensive Reading section. This consists of links to many sites with online publications. On the BAJR site itself is the series of BAJR Guides,
in PDF format, to subjects as varied as photography, insurance and fish remains. The site also hosts the archives of The Digger, a whinge-fest
from the field published from 1998 to 2006.
BAJR on Facebook; and on Twitter.
Google Earth: Google Earth is a virtual globe made up of satellite and aerial photographs. This is
the same data as can be accessed on the Web with Google Maps, but using the Google Earth software you can move around an area in 3D at a low angle, and
study the topography and relief. On the high-resolution aerial photographs, archaeological monuments show up clearly, so you can see them from the air
and study the lie of the land. Many areas of Ireland are still low resolution, but the high-resolution areas include The Giant's Ring, Ballynahatty,
near Belfast, and the Newgrange-Knowth-Dowth group of tombs in the Boyne valley, Lough Gur and Gallarus Oratory. You can explore the Burren and the
mountains of Kerry. Google Street View, which enables you to follow the road with a series of actual ground-level panoramic photographs shows any
archaeological sites which can be seen from a road. There are good views of the Boyne Valley tombs and a distant view of Poulnabrone Dolmen. Tara isn't
really visible from the road, though the tops of a few of the earthworks can be made out, but Street View really comes into its own for urban studies, so
you can explore the walls of Londonderry or see how the the curved streets of Armagh echo the shape of the early monastic settlement. In Drogheda, you
can go under St. Laurence's Gate!
Although Wikipedia is an encyclopaedia written by volunteers and theoretically editable by anyone, it
has been remarkably successful in persuading knowledgeable people to write for it, and is generally quite reliable for initial reference at
least. At 25 times the size of Encyclopaedia Britannica, it can devote 865 words to fulachta fiadh and 523 words to Woodstown. There are
probably hundreds of articles relevant to Irish archaeology. Editorial discussions between contributors can be easily accessed for each article, as can
all earlier revisions. Each new article is pounced upon by volunteer editors and faults such as unreferenced statements are marked. The politics
and obsessions of Wikipedia are pretty much those of the mainstream media and the ultimate shape of articles reflect this consensus.
Thaddeus C. Breen
Comments and suggestions, please, to email@example.com
Last revised 14 October 2010
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