University College Cork—Department of Archaeology

(information supplied by Barra Ó Donnabháin)

MA theses


Catryn Power Anthropological studies on the dental remains from some Irish archaeological sites


Barra Ó Donnabháin The human remains from Tintern Abbey, Co. Wexford

(John F. O'Donovan)


Martin Doody Bronze Age burial in Munster


Helen Moloney Davis An Egyptian mummy and coffin at University College Cork

Patrick O'Shea A study of the churchyards in the barony of Imokilly, Co. Cork, with special reference to the range of imagery and symbolism on 18th century headstones


Denise Maher The medieval grave slabs of Co. Tipperary, 1200-1600 AD


Áine Brosnan Mortuary practices in the cathedral cemetery, Ardfert, Co. Kerry: a preliminary assessment


Una Cosgrave A study of the post-cranial non-metric traits in the human population from Ardfert Cathedral, Co. Kerry

Margaret Ronayne Located practices: deposition, architecture and landscape in Irish court tombs


E. O'Mahoney A study of seventeenth century memorials to the dead in the medieval towns of Cork, Kinsale and Youghal


Emer Dennehy The ceallunaigh of County Kerry: an archaeological perspective


Linda Lynch Placeless souls: bioarchaeology and separate burial in Ireland

Melanie McQuade A consideration of the significance of pathological animal bone from Irish archaeological sites

Annette Quinn The evidence of dental enamel hypoplasia from two Irish medieval sites



University College Dublin - Department of Archaeology

(information supplied by Prof. Barry Raftery and also obtained from Trowel 5, 1994)

MA theses


Ruaidhri DeValera The megalithic chambered tombs of north-western Clare


Michael Herity Problems of finds from the Irish passage-graves


Laurence Walsh Factors in siting and distribution of megalithic tombs and Neolithic single burials in South Leinster and Waterford


Gabriel Cooney The environmental context of megalithic tombs in the drumlin and lakeland region (of parts of Counties Leitrim, Roscommon, Longford, Cavan and Monaghan)


David Keeling The megalithic tombs of south west Co. Donegal: an environmental perspective


Charles Mount Early Bronze Age burials in Southern Leinster


Christine Grant A locational analysis of the megalithic tombs of the Burren, Co. Clare


Michael MacDonagh Stone arrangement and stone use in the megalithic tombs of NE Co. Mayo


Amy Harris The funerary monuments of County Dublin 1560-1600 AD


Nuala Hiney Nutrition in the Early Historic Period: A Study of Human Skeletal Remains from Omey Island, Co. Galway


MPhil theses


Elizabeth O'Brien Late Prehistoric-Early Historic Ireland the burial evidence reviewed

PhD theses


Ruaidhri DeValera The court cairns of Ireland


Michael Herity Irish megalithic grave goods: problems of context, interrelationships and origins


Rhoda Kavanagh Irish cinerary urns and Early Bronze Age burial rites



National University of Ireland, Galway - Department of Archaeology

(information supplied by Prof. John Waddell)

MA theses


John Waddell A Contribution to the Study of the Urns and Urn Burials of the Irish Bronze Age


Jim Higgins The Early Christian Cross Slabs, Pillar Stones and related monuments of Co. Galway


Patrick Healy Pre-Norman Grave-slabs and Cross-inscribed Stones in the Dublin region


Deirdre Crombie Children's Burial Grounds in County Galway


PhD theses


John Waddell Aspects of Funerary Practice in the Insular Bronze Age



The Queen's University of Belfast - School of Archaeology and Palaeoecology

(information supplied by Dr. Eileen Murphy)

MA theses


D. Beard The Anglo-Saxon cemetery at Mitcham, Surrey: an experiment in techniques of statistical analysis



Sinclair Forrest A Re-examination of the Architectural Similarities of the Dolmens-a-coulour ('Passage Graves') of NW Europe


1996 (partial requirement for taught MA in Archaeology)

William Roulston 'Mememtomori': A Study of 17th century Memorials in West Ulster

Clare Webster Dietary Reconstruction of 8 Ukrainian Cultures using 13C and 15N analysis

MSc theses


Laureen Buckley Study of the Human Skeletal Remains from a Cemetery at Kilshane, Co. Dublin


PhD theses


Feldore McHugh Theoretical and Quantitative Approaches to the Study of Mortuary Practice

Eileen Murphy An Osteological and Palaeopathological study of the Scythian and Hunno-Sarmatian populations from the cemetery complex of Aymyrlyg, Tuva, South Siberia



Trinity College - Department of Medieval History

(information supplied by Dr. Terry Barry)

MPhil theses


David Kuwayama Anglo-Norman Impact on Irish Population Health: Social Structure, Urban Development and the Skeletal Record






Placeless Souls - Bioarchaeology and Separate Burial

in Historic Ireland

Linda G. Lynch


This thesis examines the practice of separate burial in historic Ireland with the analyses of two post-medieval cemetery populations - Aughinish Castle and Kilrush Church - in Co. Limerick. In a Christian context, separate burial refers to the unconsecrated burial of certain individuals - often in designated areas - apart from the rest of the population. The belief held was that these individuals were deemed unworthy of consecrated burial. This could include infants and children, pregnant women and women recently delivered of a child, the mentally handicapped, victims of famine and possibly disease epidemics, and excommunicates. Also, some executed individuals, soldiers and people dying in violence, strangers, drowned individuals, and suicides could have been excluded. This study undertakes a biocultural approach by combining the analyses of the skeletal material from Aughinish Castle and Kilrush Church with a variety of other evidence, such as folklore evidence, to examine whether these sites were utilised as unconsecrated burial grounds. The importance of the study to the broader subject of separate burial is also explored.


The osteological evidence from the sites indicate that there are significant biases in the demographic profiles towards younger individuals, particularly infants. In the Aughinish Castle sample, 64.5% of the population were under 17 years at the time of death with 35% of these aged under 6 months. In Kilrush Church, 56.8% were under 17 years at the time of death, with 71% of these under 1 year. In both the adults and the children skeletal indicators, such as stature, and various disease processes, such as anaemia, also suggest that both populations were from low socio-economic groups. There was one rather unusual finding from the Kilrush Church population where one adult individual (KlO - 35-45 years, female) may have been suffering from the early stages of Paget's disease. While the pathological processes, which were evident on the remains, may be present in any population, the demographic profiles combined with other evidence such as burial practices, site locations and folklore, indicate that these sites were used for unconsecrated burial. Most of the interments at Aughinish Castle may represent victims of a single calamity while the site of Kilrush Church may have been utilised as a general site for separate burial - particularly of infants.


This study also provides insights into the broader subject of separate burial in historic Ireland. It is clear that cillíní cannot be physically defined in a rigid fashion. Each site is subject to various factors such as burial practice and site location which may make each unique. In addition, the sites were not reserved exclusively for the burial of 'unbaptised infants' and much broader age ranges should be expected in excavated cillíní. Evidence also indicates that many of the larger cemetery contexts of unconsecrated burials - such as cillíní - may be quite late in date, possibly post-medieval and later.


A Consideration of the Significance of Pathological Animal Bone

from Irish Archaeological Sites

Melanie McQuade


Palaeopathology is defined and its background and development concerning faunal remains are outlined. The study of pathological conditions on animal remains is complicated by the various taphonomic processes to which they are subjected. Despite these complications and the inherent dearth of work on the subject it is of archaeological relevance for the information it provides on human interaction with, and control of, animal populations.


The range of pathological disorders and anomalous conditions affecting the skeletons of mammals and birds are described and their aetiologies are considered. An account of the skeletal indications of animal employment and restraint is also given. Historical and literary sources, although sometimes subjective and unreliable, complement the information available from osteological studies by providing a valuable insight into the treatment of, and reactions to, animal disease in the past. Such information, and its relevance to the present study, is discussed.


Physical examination of an assemblage of pathological animal bone, derived from more than twenty Irish excavations is undertaken and a catalogue is compiled in which each piece is described and illustrated. The methods used for recording and analysing this material are outlined and a brief description is given of the sites from which it was recovered. Other previously described examples are considered and a database of anomalous faunal bone from Irish archaeological sites is created.


Pathologies are categorised and described as follows: genetically-linked anomalies, nutritional deficiency, traumata, arthropathy, infection, neoplasia, osteisis, oral disease and unclassifiable. The frequency of each category is presented with reference to comparative data from British studies. The significance of disease representation among different species and age groups is explored and the implications of the date and contexts of the pathological bones are discussed. Inherent discrepancies between the disease rates of the live population and those represented on bone material are outlined and their causes explored. Consideration is also given to the location of traumatic injuries and arthropathy and the possible significance of such.


Problems encountered during this study are summarised and conclusions are drawn on the basis of pathological and historical evidence. The need for fuller and more standardised recording of pathological bone is recognised and suggestions are made for future research in the subject.


The Evidence of Dental Enamel Hypoplasia from two

Irish Medieval Sites

Annette Quinn


This thesis examines the prevalence of dental enamel hypoplasia from two Medieval populations of St Mary's of the Isle, Cork and Tintern Abbey, Co. Wexford. Dental hypoplasia refers to developmental defects of enamel which occur as a result of episodes of stress experienced by certain individuals during childhood. The usefulness of hypoplasias as indicators of health status, morbidity or survival for archaeological skeletal assemblages is investigated here. The individuals displaying hypoplasia were contextualised by examining, for example, the spatial distribution of burials within a cemetery and the various grave types in which the individuals were interred. Status, as indicated by grave type, was a major factor in this thesis.

The methodology outlined in this thesis emphasised the importance of acquiring a suitable standardised recording procedure for such a study. During the course of the analysis it was noted that there were a number of limitations which restrict research procedure. These are given careful consideration throughout. The evidence presented in this thesis has implications for both dental anthropology and archaeology. Firstly, it was discovered that there was a variation in susceptibility to hypoplasia between different tooth types. This conclusion was derived from an examination of the frequencies and severity of enamel defects per tooth type and from the chronological distribution of defects per half-year developmental period. A vital conclusion drawn from the latter examination was that all teeth undergoing simultaneous enamel development do not record defects equally. Therefore the traditional interpretation of teeth being equally hypoplastic was challenged in this research. From an archaeological point of view, it has been proven here that enamel hypoplasias are in fact indicators of stress in a population, but stresses that were survived by individuals. This again challenged the traditional view of hypoplasias solely as indicators of mortality. One of the major conclusions drawn here was that high status individuals were as susceptible to the diseases associated with enamel hypoplasias as the lower status individuals. Overall, the research undertaken here was both challenging and beneficial for archaeology. It also provides a basis for further research to be achieved in this particular area of archaeology.



Trinity College - Department of Medieval History

Anglo-Norman Impact on Irish Population Health:

Social Structure, Urban Development and the Skeletal Record

David P. Kuwayama


The Anglo-Norman arrival marked the imposition of a feudal structure in place of the proto-feudal structure already extant in Ireland from the fifth century. Gaelic Irish typically occupied the lowest strata in the feudal social scale, notably in the form of betaghs. Agricultural practice also changed radically; a stronger emphasis was placed upon tillage production as opposed to the cattle rearing which was the focus of Gaelic Irish agriculture. More and better watermills were built, the use of the mouldboard plough increased, and a tripartite system of crop rotation was implemented. All of these factors increased agricultural production, though simultaneously exposed the population to periodic famine in the event of crop failure. The Gaelic Irish were especially susceptible due to their generally low social rank.


The invasion spurred radically the growth of urban forms, where only Viking settlements and some monastic centres had approximated proto-urban centres beforehand. As the number of towns increased, the populations within them grew by orders of magnitude and these represented an increasingly greater proportion of the population at large. Living conditions within towns were poor due to unsanitary practices, and rates of parasitic and bacterial infections increased due to the increased population density.


Skeletal analyses from the excavation reports of four pre-Norman and four post-Norman sites were examined. The pre-Norman sites were: Castleknock, Co. Dublin; Dunmisk Fort, Co. Tyrone; Gallen Priory, Co. Offaly; and St Peter's Church, Waterford City. The post-Norman sites were: St Peter's Church, Waterford City; 19-20 Cove Street, Crosse's Green, Cork City; St Mary's of the Isle, Cork City; and St Mary's Cathedral, Limerick City. From the pre- to post-Norman era, non-specific infection rates increased, probably due to increased population density in urban centres. Dental attrition decreased while rates of dental caries and abscesses increased, indicative of a heavier reliance on corn based diets and better milling techniques. Male height increased significantly (5 cm on average) while female height decreased somewhat (2 cm on average), indicating an increasing disparity in sex-related health. This may or may not indicate a sex-based disparity in the allocation of nutrition. Life expectancy decreased by between two to ten years and this is likely an overall reflection of the various negative health factors at work within urban centres.


Comparisons of stature were made with material excavated from several sites in English, Welsh and Viking regions. In these samples, Norse material was tallest; English material was comparable in height to pre-Norman Irish material; Welsh was shorter than Irish. As the majority of settlers in this period came from Wales, it is possible that the invasion encouraged a decrease in Irish stature, though the actual number of invaders was probably too small to have a significant effect.




Theoretical and Quantitative Approaches to the Study of Mortuary Practice

Feldore D. McHugh


There are two main aspects to this dissertation. The first examines the four main social dimensions structuring burial - age, sex, horizontal and vertical - using ethnographic, historical and archaeological evidence. Previously, ethnographic and historical evidence for burial practice have been used selectively, to suit particular theoretical stances, whether processual or post-processual. This narrow viewing of the evidence has produced a diverse body of theory that does not address the true complexities. The main trends, and problems, in theoretical approaches to burial study are examined, and the four social dimensions are then discussed individually.


The second part of the dissertation is concerned with three multivariate techniques (correspondence analysis, principal components analysis and cluster analysis) that have been used to uncover the social patterns in burial data. The use of principal components and cluster analysis with burial data have been particularly controversial. To assess their effectiveness, the only real solution is to use artificial data sets, an approach widely used in other disciplines. A methodology for the construction of such artificial cemeteries is outlined, and how their analysis by multivariate techniques can be objectified. Using this approach, 10 model cemeteries with different social structures were analysed using three types of cluster analysis, four types of principal components analysis, and two types of correspondence analysis. All three clustering methods were capable of extracting the social groupings in the cemeteries, and a pragmatic approach to the clustering of burials is recommended. Of the ordination methods, the rotated principal components analyses and ordinary correspondence analysis gave the best results. The results suggested that rotated PCA can accurately recover social information from binary burial data, a conclusion supported by previous studies using artificial data. A combined use of rotated PCA and correspondence analysis in practice may give the greatest insights into the data.


[Dr. McHugh's research will shortly be published as a BAR monograph]


An Osteological and Palaeopathological study of the

Scythian and Hunno-Sarmatian populations

from the cemetery complex of Aymyrlyg, Tuva, South Siberia

Eileen M. Murphy


South Siberia and Mongolia are amongst the regions of the Old World where there are the most ancient traditions of pastoralism. My doctoral research on the corpus of 809 individuals from the cemetery complex of Aymyrlyg, Tuva, south Siberia, provided an opportunity to analyse a major population of these semi-nomadic pastoralists who would have roamed the vast Eurasian steppe-lands during the Iron Age. The cemetery complex was excavated during the period between 1968 and 1984 by archaeologists of the Sayano-Tuvinskaya expedition team from the Institute for the History of Material Culture, St. Petersburg. The skeletal remains retrieved during this programme of excavation were then curated by the Research Department of the Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography in St. Petersburg. The corpus of skeletons retrieved from Aymyrlyg during the excavations belonged to two distinct chronological groupings, a division based on the different forms of funerary archaeology and material culture which accompanied the burials. Further insights into the two cultures were obtained from information on the inhabitants of the region contained in Chinese and Classical texts.


The earlier population belonged to the Uyuk Culture of Iron Age Tuva and are considered to have been part of the 'Scythian World'. The majority of the Scythian period burials at Aymyrlyg date to the period between the 5th to the 3rd centuries BC. Historical texts indicate that there was a spread of influence of the Hsiung-nu Empire into south Siberia during the late 3rd and early 2nd century BC, and that this led to cultural and possible population changes at this time. The Shurmak Culture, which represents the second population group at Aymyrlyg, is considered to have developed during the 3rd to the 1st century BC as a result of a complicated and prolonged process that occurred in a climate of rapid political change when new population groups moved into Tuva. These Hunno-Sarmatian period people are thought to be related to the Hsiung-nu of the historical texts, and it has been suggested that the Hunno-Sarmatian period population at Aymyrlyg belonged to the earliest phase of this cultural change, when the Scythian period culture was ending and the new culture was gaining ground.


The principal aim of the research was to elucidate the nature of the lifestyles, health and diet of the two Iron Age populations buried at the cemetery complex of Aymyrlyg. This objective was achieved by undertaking a major programme of osteological and palaeopathological analysis of their skeletal remains. A biocultural approach was adopted for the study which involves a strong emphasis being placed on the role that health plays in the interaction between a population and its social organisation, material culture and physical environment. This was the first study of its kind to have been undertaken on south Siberian prehistoric and protohistoric populations. The results of this research have helped to contribute to the removal of a major lacuna in our knowledge of life in this region during antiquity.

The research showed that there were clear differences in the health status and warfare and cultural practices evident between the two populations. The dental palaeopathological data derived from the analysis, however, indicated that the diets of the two populations would have been practically identical. In addition, a number of unusual developmental defects were observed and these have major implications for our understanding of how these semi-nomadic peoples behaved towards the disabled members of their society. The remains also provided evidence for trepanation, amputation, decapitation, throat cutting, brain extraction and some of the earliest known cases of Old World scalping. Clear evidence for secondary burial was apparent among both populations, but occurred with greater frequency among the Scythian period individuals. An important finding was that many bodies had been physically processed prior to their burial in the tombs, and it was postulated that this practice was related to the seasonal migrations of the tribal groups. This research has been of vital importance in furthering our knowledge of the semi-nomadic pastoralists who lived in south Siberia during the Iron Age since it has illustrated how the combination of osteological and palaeopathological evidence with material culture and historical sources can provide major insights into life and death among these hitherto enigmatic people.