History on the Landscape: Ancient and Medieval Ireland

Course Title:   History on the Landscape: Ancient and Medieval Ireland

Course #19w02

Fee: $30 with $5 discount if registration is received by Jan 9th.

Dates:           Wednesdays, January 23, 2019, to February 13, 2019

Time:            10 a.m.­­–noon

Location:     Mercer Public Library/Community Center

Objectives: Ireland is unique in the Western world for the sheer number of archeological remnants and historical remains still visible upon its landscape, many of them dating back more than 6,000 years. In a country less than two-thirds the size of the state of Wisconsin, there are almost 150,000 such historical “monuments,” from ancient megalithic tombs, temples, and stone circles to medieval ringforts, castles, towerhouses, and monastic ruins. It is impossible to travel through the country without coming upon these silent yet palpable traces of hundreds of generations of human endeavor. This course explores the story of that ancient and medieval world. It will layer onto the chronological story of Ireland’s deep and rich past an exploration of the abundant monuments and historical sites that form a physical, material—and “readable”—record of that past.

Structure:    The course will be given in four sessions, each two hours long, covering the following topics:

Week 1         Landscape and History: Topography, Climate, and the Early Peoples of Ireland

Week 2         Ancient Ireland: “Deep” History on the Landscape, 4000 BCE–500 CE

Week 3         Christian Ireland: Ireland’s “Golden Age”

Week 4         Medieval Ireland: Norman Conquest and the Transformation of the Landscape

Requirements: The only requirement for this course is an interest in the topic.

Instructor: Mary Magray has an MA in European history and a PhD in British and Irish history, with a focus on women and religion. She has been teaching a wide variety of European, British, and Irish history courses to students of all ages for more than thirty years, including A History of Ireland for Travelers at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. She is the author of The Transforming Power of the Nuns: Women, Religion, and Cultural Change in Ireland, 1750-1900, published by Oxford University Press in 1998, and is currently an instructor in the Division of Continuing Studies at UWMadison.