There is good news for Irish archaeology fans this month after it was revealed that Matthew Stout's book The Irish Ringfort is to be reprinted.
The Irish Ringfort was first published in 1997 and is an essential read for anyone interested in early medieval Irish archaeology and history.
The book examines all aspects of Irish ringforts – their shape and size, their date and function – with special attention to national distribution patterns.
Reference to contemporary written sources brings to the fore the people who dwelt within ringforts and their relationships with neighbouring farmsteads and religious communities.
Ringforts are circular monuments which were fortified or defended dwelling and farming places. Most excavated ringforts have traces of a range of buildings in their interior. It is thought a ringfort enclosed a single farming family and all their retainers.
The full extent of this partly destroyed ringfort was revealed in drought cropmarks.
This study focuses on the lives and material remains of people who are often neglected in historical studies – men and women who were not the saints of official history. The Irish ringfort is the first book to avail itself of the all-Ireland database of ringforts compiled by the archaeological surveys of the Office of Public Works and the Heritage Service (DOE NI).
Nationwide patterns are illustrated through a re-examination of earlier studies. What emerges is a consistent pattern of settlement that illuminates aspects of early medieval society, especially the relationship between individuals of varying status and the settlement determinants of both secular and ecclesiastical establishments.
Although it is largely a reprint of the original, Matthew Stout informed Mythical Ireland that some of the figures in the book have been updated and the bibliography has been expanded.
Matthew Stout is a cartographer and a historical geographer who lectured in early medieval Irish history at Dublin City University until his retirement in 2022. He is the author of Early Medieval Ireland 431–1169 (Dublin, 2017) and has published numerous articles on early medieval Irish settlement.
The Irish Ringfort is published by Four Courts Press and copies are available from their website at €13.45 each.