New Archaeology Module 2018

                      ELC Aran Islands 530X260

New Archaeology module for Visiting Students (Junior Year Abroad & Erasmus) and students of the Higher Diploma in Archaeology.

From September 2018, we are delighted to announce a new module for Visiting Students (Junior Year Abroad and Erasmus) and Higher Diploma students only.

Archaeology and Mythical Landscapes of Atlantic Ireland (AR5100) is a 10 ects, semester 1 course that explores the interplay between myth, legend and landscape at some of the most spectacular and iconic monuments and landscapes of Atlantic Ireland.

Focusing on landscapes and monuments of Connaught that feature in tales from the Mythological Cycle, the Ulster Cycle and the Fenian Cycle of early Irish literary tradition, students will visit and learn about monuments like:


Dún Aonghasa, the imposing fort and
mythical abode of the Fir Bolg, perched
on the sea cliffs on Inis Mór, Aran Islands

Dun Aengus Aran Islands


Crúachan and Carn Fraoich, royal complexes
in County Roscommon
associated with the
mythical King Ailill, Queen Medb, and the
warrior Fraoch

Rathcroghan Mound AP


The Caves of Kesh at Keshcorran and
the Otherworld encounters of Finn mac Cumaill

Caves of Kesh


Queen Meabh's Cairn on the summit of
Knocknarea, County Sligo

Maeve's Cairn Knocknarea

The module, which incorporates the results of archaeological surveys and excavations in these landscapes, will consider how monuments and their settings became mnemonic pegs for tales, and how they themselves may also have been the very sources of the tales.

STRUCTURE (10 ECTS); 2 lectures (introductory); 5 field classes (40 hours); 6 tutorials (5 attached to each field class, 1 for class-test assessment)


  • An appreciation of the archaeology of some of the renowned landscapes associated with myths and legends in Atlantic Ireland
  • Basic knowledge of the range of ritual and funerary monuments that generally constitute ‘mythical’ landscapes and how they were perceived in the medieval mind
  • An understanding of the influence of prehistoric archaeological landscapes on the generation and maintenance of stories about the gods and mortals in early Irish tradition


Four 2000-word short projects on four landscapes:

     Dún Aonghasa, Inis Mór, Aran Islands, Co. Galway
          Knocknarea, Co. Sligo.
               Keshcorran, Co. Sligo
                    Kilinaboy, Co. Clare.

TEXTS (Books)

  • Barber, E.J.W. 2004 When they Severed Earth from Sky: How the Human Mind Shapes Myth. Princeton.
  • Bergh, S. 1995 Landscape of the Monuments: A Study of the Passage Tombs in the Cuil Irra Region.
  • Chadwick, A.M., Gibson, C. 2013 Memory, Myth and Long-Term Landscape Inhabitation.
  • Cotter, C. 2012 The Western Stone Forts Project.
  • Egeler, M. (forthcoming) Landscape and Myth in North-Western Europe.
  • Kinsella, T. 1985 The Táin.
  • MacKillop, J. 2004 A Dictionary of Celtic Mythology. Oxford.
  • Nagy, J.F. 1985 The Wisdom of the Outlaw: The Boyhood Deeds of Finn in Gaelic Narrative Tradition
  • Ó Cathasaigh, T. 2014 Coire Sois, The Cauldron of Knowledge: A Companion to Early Irish Saga. Notre Dame.  
  • O’Rahilly, T.F. 1946 Early Irish History and Mythology
  • Waddell, J. 2018 Myth and Materiality.
  • Waddell, J. 2014 Archaeology and Celtic Myth: An Exploration.
  • Waddell, J., Fenwick, J. and Barton, K. 2009 Rathcroghan: Archaeological and Geophysical Survey in a Ritual Landscape.

Further information on options open to International and Erasmus Students may be found on our Undergraduate Programmes and Postgraduate Programmes pages.