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Fish traps in the monastic economies of eastern Ireland

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  • Full or part time
    Dr Wes Forsythe
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About This PhD Project

Project Description

Applications are invited for a funded PhD studentship tenable in the Faculty of Life and Health Sciences at the 
Coleraine Campus.
All applicants should hold a first or upper second class honours degree in Archaeology or related area, or an equivalent post-graduate award.

Foreshore archaeological survey has made significant advances in understanding maritime cultural heritage in Ireland in the last two decades. One of the most striking class of monuments on the intertidal zone is the fish trap. Key survey work undertaken in Ireland (e.g. O’Sullivan 2001; McErlean et al. 2002) has revealed traps or weirs dated in some cases to as early as the Mesolithic period, although the majority appear Medieval. Both wooden and stone forms survive at these sites and often extend over a considerable area. Preliminary evidence would suggest that the north-eastern group of traps have a strong ecclesiastical connection, likely serving the needs of the religious community and providing an income for the church. This project will seek to build on this association by focusing on areas of County Down and Louth, outside those already subjected to systematic survey (McErlean et al. 2002). In doing so, it will reassess isolated monuments (e.g. Evans 1951; Breen 1999; Went 1959) and attempt to identify further examples using a mixed methodology (see below). If successful it will suggest areas of high potential for further work. The study will involve inspecting fish traps sites and developing a classification for the monuments as a means of distinguishing them chronologically and/or geographically. In order to establish the relationship of fish traps to monastic estates the project will reconstruct the landholdings of the church based on methods employed by McErlean (1983) and MacCotter (2000). This will form a key aspect of the project and will utilise GIS as a basis for mapping.

This project will establish the place of marine resources across the study area and open key debates about their importance to monastic Ireland; the relationship of individual religious houses to other key settlements in Ireland and Britain; and the other marine infrastructure required to service such activities.

Successful candidates will enrol as of September 2016, on a full-time programme of research studies leading to the award of the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
The studentship will comprise fees together with an annual stipend of £14,296 and will be awarded for a period of up to three years subject to satisfactory progress.

The closing date for receipt of completed applications is 26th February 2016.
Interviews will be held during March 2016.

Further information may be found at -
if you wish to discuss this topic or receive advice on research please contact
Dr Wes Forsythe
Centre for Maritime Archaeology, Environmental Sciences Research Institute, Ulster University
Tel: +44 (0)28 7012 4042
Email: [Email Address Removed]
For more information on applying go to 
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