Anglo-Norman parks in medieval Ireland


Fiona Beglane

Hardback €45.00
Catalogue Price: €50.00
ISBN: 978-1-84682-569-9
May 2015. 240pp; illustrations.

‘There is a rich and long-established hagiography of medieval English parks that engages not only the bounds, uses and regulation of parks, but also with their symbolic associations and the role they played as displaying prestige. Fiona Beglane’s is the first major study of the subject in Ireland … she has produced a truly interdisciplinary work that is comprehensive and well-conceived … Beglane employs a wide range of archaeological and historical methods to elucidate the uses to which parks were put in Ireland … [this is] well-illustrated with photographs, plans and maps that locate each park in its wider environment … Beglane’s scholarly range and genuine interdisciplinarity are impressive. So is her skill in distilling the results of her extensive archaeological and historical research into a convincing and readable narrative. This book will be the standard work on parks in medieval Ireland, but it has great value for other areas of enquiry, as it sheds new light on elite culture, ethnic interaction and displays of political power and legitimacy in medieval Ireland’, Sparky Booker, Studia Hibernica (2016).

‘A welcome addition to the field of landscape studies and to that of the Anglo-Normans in Ireland … Beglane’s text not only fills a lacuna in this field of Irish historical studies but will also serve as a useful comparative work for those working on parks and designed landscapes elsewhere in Europe, particularly in areas of expansion and conquest. I am sure that it will stand as the standard text on this subject for many years to come’, Kathryn Hurlock, The Journal of Irish Archaeology (2015).

‘Makes an important contribution to understanding the history of privately owned and managed landscape spaces from the Middle Ages to the early eighteenth century … Fiona Beglane looks at the existence and distribution of medieval parks on this westernmost extremity of Europe – focusing attention on the form and function of parks, their ownership and management, and their distribution on the island of Ireland … copiously illustrated with diagrams, maps, and photographs, [this book] makes important additions to our knowledge of Irish landscape history and its location in the broader English and European worlds’, Patrick J. Duffy, Renaissance Quarterly (2016). 

‘Fiona Beglane’s Anglo-Norman Parks in Medieval Ireland provides a detailed and multidisciplinary assessment of the roles that emparkment had amid new practices and identities catalyzed by the Anglo-Norman movement into Ireland … Her book is well written with an impressive balance between regional survey and illustrative case studies, between documentary and archaeological evidence, between material pragmatics and cognitive conceptions. I recommend it warmly for both specialists on Ireland and those with a more general interest in medieval Europe and the archaeology of animals’, John Soderberg, Eolas (2016).

‘This is an excellent, multi-disciplinary study of a relatively short-lived, geographically restricted phenomenon that, by its very nature, has left few physical traces in the landscape. The comprehensiveness of the author’s analysis extracts every last ounce of understanding from a scant historical resource: the Anglo-Norman park in high medieval Ireland is brought alive in this readable and well-illustrated book … Not only is this book of great intrinsic interest for both scholars and the ordinary reader, it is an important step towards the survival of what little is left of this fragile component of Irish heritage, through the provision of a wealth of detail and analysis’, Elizabeth Whittle, Landscape History (2016).

Beglane’s book sets out to achieve for Ireland, in a single volume, the kind of transformative investigations that have been undertaken for England. And it succeeds. By weaving together a genuinely jaw-dropping amount of evidence, collated from a desk-based assessment of cartographic and historical sources, as well as first-hand fieldwork observations and zooarchaeological analyses, Beglane achieves her ambition of investigating the role of Anglo-Norman parks in both the Irish landscape and mind-set. But this book is about more than Anglo-Norman parks … the temporal coverage of the volume certainly extends beyond its purported focus of AD 1169–1350, with content ranging from the rise of parks in prehistory to their decline and reinvention in the early modern period … It must be hoped that Beglane’s book, which represents a comprehensive one-stop shop for information about Ireland’s Anglo-Norman parks, will both raise the profile of, and encourage research into, these neglected elements of the island’s landscape history’, Naomi Sykes, Antiquity (2016).

‘This informative book employs a multi-disciplinary approach, focusing on the period c.1169–1350 and draws on archaeological, historical, literary, place-name and zooarchaeological evidence (Belgane being a consultant zooarchaeologist) … this much-needed work bring studies of Irish parks up to speed with recent endeavours in England, while demonstrating the particularities of Irish landscape and society. Its publication will be welcomed by anyone interested in medieval landscapes’, Amanda Richardson, Medieval Archaeology (2016).

Another important volume dealing with aspects and themes of Irish history and archaeology. Fiona Beglane, a consultant zooarchaeologist and lecturer in archaeology at the Institute of Technology Sligo, is the author of Anglo-Norman parks in medieval Ireland. Such parks rank among the largest built monuments from the medieval period in Ireland yet relatively little information has been published about them. Beglane’s work goes a long way towards redressing that situation. The book focuses on parks documented and known to have existed in the period between 1169 and 1350’, Archaeology Ireland (Summer 2015).

‘Interesting and informative … This is a well-researched and accessible publication that investigates a largely unexplored aspect of Irish medieval history. It should be of interest to anyone interested in the Middle Ages, especially from a landscape perspective’, IrishArchaeology.ie (September 2015).