Locating Historical Dún Bolg and the Early Medieval Landscape of Baltinglass, Co. Wicklow

Patrick Gleeson, James O'Driscoll

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

During the early medieval period around AD 400–1200, the Baltinglass landscape in eastern Ireland may be interpreted as a major central place connected with important regional dynasties like the UíCheinnselaig and latterly the Uí Máil. Its significance is explicitly recorded in historical 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 some 131ha in size, located a few kilometres to the east of Baltinglass. This, along with a number of previously unrecognised early medieval sites presented below, reveals a powerful and heavily mythologised landscape that was instrumental to dynasties emerging from the shadows of the Iron Age in central Leinster. This paper attempts to merge the rich historical tradition with the archaeological evidence to elucidate the broader importance of the Baltinglass landscape during the early medieval period.

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