Kingdoms, Communities, and Óenaig: Irish Assembly Practices in their Northwest European Context

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Abstract

This paper explores the nature of assembly practices in early medieval Ireland (AD 400–1100). It focuses specifically on the óenach, the pre-eminent assembly of each level of community and kingdom in Irish society, and it engages critically with how assembly as a topic has been traditionally understood and analyzed by Irish scholarship. Through analysis of the nature of the óenach, I suggest that the predominantly economistic interpretation of this institution by Irish scholarship is misplaced and that rather the óenach was an Irish equivalent of pan-European assembly practices. Accordingly, this paper explores the character of óenaig (plural of óenach) in the context of this pan-European phenomenon. Furthermore, some preliminary results from ongoing research offer insights into the archaeological manifestation of assembly practices, the spatial dynamic of assembly landscapes, and the implications of the same for our understanding of civil society, scales of identity, and the practice of assembly in early medieval Ireland. 
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)33-51
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of the North Atlantic
VolumeSpecial Vol 8
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Keywords

  • assembly; early medieval; kingdoms

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