The Dublin region in the middle ages

Settlement, land-use and economy


Margaret Murphy & Michael Potterton

Hardback €45.00
Catalogue Price: €50.00
ISBN: 978-1-84682-266-7
September 2010. 608pp; large format, full-colour ills.

‘[This book] is a landmark and magisterial publication in the study of medieval Ireland on a number of accounts. In terms of sheer data, Margaret Murphy and Michael Potterton have amassed a complete selection of information regarding post-Norman Dublin that has generally be relegated to file cabinets filled with government excavation reports and surveys … the production quality of the book deserves the highest commendation … the colour images rival any art history-type of publication. The layout, font and paper quality are all coordinated to create an extremely pleasant publication … as authors of this volume, Murphy and Potterton have set an Olympian standard', Thomas Finan, Speculum (2012).

‘[An] outstanding work … The first half of the book explores the physical legacy of this period in the greater Dublin landscape and the second half considers the economic foundation for a building boom that was fuelled by agricultural production. It is this balanced approach which makes this work revolutionary in the field of historic landscape studies in Ireland. It goes beyond the headlines of history into the heart of the matter to provide the most detailed picture of the Medieval Dublin hinterland and its people ever attempted … Both the authors, a historian and an archaeologist, have uncovered a wealth of new evidence … The Dublin region in the Middle Ages is a classic which will become the standard reference work for Irish medieval studies and transform the way in which medievalists study the socio-economic structure and dynamic of medieval rural and urban landscapes', John King, Irish Economic and Social History (2012).

‘It is a pity that the word masterpiece is overused because when one encounters the genuine object, the word seems strangely inadequate to describe it. This remarkable volume shows what can be achieved when a talented team, properly funded, working within an intellectually supportive environment, tackles a well-chosen research problem. The resulting volume is not simply a beautifully crafted book and a joy to handle it is also a carefully produced academic study that constitutes the benchmark against which all future work in this field will be measured … This is the first detailed survey of the development of the Dublin region in the Middle Ages … the book is beautifully produced and the quality of the illustrations is outstanding. The photographs have been carefully selected and their crispness makes some almost jump off the page … It is very rare in scholarship to have the opportunity of saluting a masterpiece. All who are connected with this volume, the project members, the advisory committee, the readers, publishers, the Discovery Programme itself, but principally the authors should take a bow … The book is astonishing value for the money and once it goes out of print, it will sell at four times the price, which is a truer reflection of what it should cost. Reader, tarry not – buy it now', John Bradley, JRSAI (2011).

'A quite extraordinary and monumental work on the city and its surrounding region from 1170 to 1660. It is an impressive production … every conceivable aspect of medieval Dublin is covered … this is a rich book in every sense which not only goes into great detail on the different aspects of the region in this era but is densely packed with various kinds of illustrations’, Books Ireland (November 2010).

‘This magisterial study ... a landmark in the study of later medieval settlement in Ireland and in full colour academic publishing. In every way this is a superb production, combining first class academic research ... and the type of eye-catching colour design that will surely guarantee the widest possible audience for [the] findings ... It is clearly one of the most competitively priced Irish academic publications to have appeared in recent years ... This is an outstanding study which will become the model for future studies of later medieval agriculture, not only in Ireland, but elsewhere. Congratulations to the Discovery Programme and Four Courts Press for setting new standards in Irish academic publishing', Colin Rynne, The Agricultural History Society of Ireland newsletter (October 2010).

‘This magnificent tome is devoted to the settlement of the rural hinterland of Dublin … it investigates the way in which the area was occupied and exploited during the middle ages, focussing particularly on the way in which rural life interacted with that of the city. The range of topics is encyclopaedic … it is one of the most sumptuous productions ever to come from an Irish publishing house. The text is printed on high quality paper and accompanied by hundreds of superb illustrations along with beautifully presented maps and plans … this is a heavyweight production, one that will be of huge value to everyone interested in the history of Dublin … for anyone interested in architecture, there is much to learn about its social and economic context', Roger Stalley, Irish Art Review (Winter 2010).

‘Dr Murphy and Dr Potterton have succeeded in producing a work that is remarkably comprehensive in scope. It is strikingly rich in detail and is packed with new insights. It is lavishly illustrated with photographs, watercolours and line drawings, a great number of maps, and a range of tables and diagrams … This book presents at once an attractive and accessible summation in unprecedented detail of what is now known about a region of medieval Ireland, and also a baseline for future research. Murphy and Potterton must be congratulated for making such a monumental contribution to Irish history', Henry Jefferies, IHS (Autumn 2011).

‘A large, well-planned and expertly presented book that is set to become established as an authoritative work of reference for the medieval Dublin region, and a model for urban hinterland studies elsewhere … The book is exceptionally well produced, with high quality maps and illustrations used to good effect to elucidate the topic. The elegant presentation of the text echoes the cool efficiency with which the full range of available historical and archaeological evidence is assembled, evaluated, organised and put to creative use. Together, the authors and publisher have admirably repaid the investment of the Heritage Council in funding this research. They have produced a landmark volume of lasting value that will be a model for future studies of medieval settlement and society in Ireland and elsewhere', Bernadette Cunningham, Journal of the County Kildare Archaeological Society (2010/11).

‘Murphy and Potterton [have] combined to give us a work of scholarship of which historians and archaeologists alike can be proud. It will be the exacting yardstick by which we will measure future such collaborations, and will be the standard point of reference in the field for years to come. Both are to be heartily congratulated for making what is, by any comparison, a substantial contribution to scholarship. The strengths of the volume are numerous. To those who happen upon it in a bookshop or library, the book’s sheer beauty is the first attraction. It has the proverbial profusion of illustration, all glorious to flick through, most amplifying and enhancing the text … as a work of synthesis it is not far short of perfect ... It is to be hoped that [...] The Dublin Region in the Middle Ages is not the last word on the subject but the foundation-stone for a new edifice of historical and archaeological scholarship on medieval Dublin and its hinterland', Seán Duffy, History Ireland (Sept/Oct 2011).

‘This marvellous first book from the Irish Discovery Programme’s Medieval Rural Settlement Project is filled with informative maps and striking photographs … Anyone wishing to learn about the hinterland around Dublin from 1170 to 1600 should begin with this work … It is hard to quibble with this book’s feast of information and insight … Highly recommended', EJ Kealey, Choice (September 2011).