This investigation considers the places on the Irish landscape where open-air Gaelic royal inauguration assemblies were held in the period c. 1100-1600. Specially designated inauguration sites played an important role in the political life of Gaelic lordships in later medieval Ireland. Gaelic ruling families often appropriated prehistoric ritual landscapes for their royal assemblies in order to attach the pedigree of a royal candidate to an illustrious past; such sites might be an alleged burial place of an eponymous ancestor or a legendary heroic figure, or an ancient landscape associated with renowned events. This study of their physical appearance, place-names, and geographical and historical contexts ranges over all the archaeological sites identified as inauguration places - enclosures, sepulchral mounds, natural places, ringforts and churches, and associated inauguration furniture in the form of leaca and stone thrones, basin stones and sacred trees. Irish royal assembly places and practices are viewed in relation to sites elsewhere in Britain and greater Europe, and the circumstances that brought about the ending of the Gaelic practice of inauguration are also considered.
ELIZABETH FitzPATRICK is Lecturer in Medieval Archaeology, National University of Ireland, Galway.
[This] nuanced book demonstrates deep familiarity with landscape, archaeological, cartographic, and onomastic evidence, with ancient Irish- and Latin-language sources as well as with nineteenth-century antiquarianism and the more recent work of historians and geographers. [...] FitzPatrick should be congratulated on the results of her immense effort. 16th CENTURY JOURNAL
It is not often that one can classify a new study as truly groundbreaking. This latest offering from Elizabeth Fitzpatrick, however, fits comfortably into this category. [...] This is a hugely important book on an area that has been neglected for far too long. Fitzpatrick is meticulous in her treatment of her subject and her breadth of learning is evident throughout. CELTIC STUDIES ASSOCIATION OF NORTH AMERICA NEWSLETTER
Scholarly and thorough...an important addition to the corpus of archaeological literature. ARCHAEOLOGY IRELAND
Does much to cut the tangle of myth from this difficult subject. LANDSCAPE HISTORY
For the archaeologist, the book does a great deal to contextualise the significance of inauguration and assembly sites in medieval Gaelic society. For the historian and literary scholar, the volume highlights the importance of sites not just as significant locations in themselves but as parts of a complex landscape. Dr FitzPatrick's book is a significant contribution to our understanding of the Gaelic world in the later medieval period. REVIEWS IN HISTORY