Locating historical Dún Bolg and the early medieval landscape of Baltinglass, Co. Wicklow

James O’Driscoll*, Patrick Gleeson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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During the early medieval period (c. AD 400–1200), the Baltinglass landscape in eastern Ireland may be interpreted as a major central place connected with important regional dynasties like the Uí Cheinnselaig and latterly the Uí Máil. Its significance is recorded in sources such as the Bórama Laigen and Fingal Rónáin, as well as a number of annal entries, which refer to an important royal fortress in the area known as Dún Bolg. This fortress has been linked with a complex of enclosures on Spinans Hill, including a massive fort of some 131ha, located a few kilometres to the east of Baltinglass. This, along with a number of previously unrecognised early medieval sites, reveals a heavily mythologised landscape that was instrumental to dynasties emerging from the shadows of the Iron Age in central Leinster. This paper attempts to assess the rich textual evidence alongside the archaeological evidence to elucidate the broader importance of the Baltinglass landscape during the early medieval period.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)91-124
Number of pages34
JournalRoyal Irish Academy. Proceedings. Section C: Archaeology, Celtic Studies, History, Linguistics and Literature
Early online date22 Feb 2021
Publication statusEarly online date - 22 Feb 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors would like to thank the editors and peer reviewers for their genuinely constructive and useful comments which helped to enhance the final text, as well as the various landowners who have allowed and facilitated the ongoing survey and excavation programme. The surveys at the Spinans Hill complex were funded with a Heritage Council Community Heritage Grant.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Royal Irish Academy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archaeology
  • Cultural Studies
  • History
  • Archaeology
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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