Myth and the creation of landscape in early medieval Ireland

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)

Abstract

Medieval Irish literature abounds in place-myths that recount the origin of placenames in the landscape. However, a number of stories go much further and attempt to explain the actual formation of the land and the creation of various geographical features. This paper examines those stories to determine how the early Irish believed that their landscape was created and by what forces. It presents evidence of a sustained narrative about the domestication of the land, including the formation of farmland, open spaces, woods, rivers and lakes, by ancient inhabitants of the island. It further examines how features such as rock formations and abandoned settlements were created by mythical ancestors. It is argued that the continued existence of these physical features and their associated stories linked the medieval authors and their audiences back to the events and the people of the remote past and provided a significance and meaning to their landscape beyond the purely material.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationLandscape and Myth in North-Western Europe
EditorsMatthias Egeler
Place of PublicationTurnhout
PublisherBrepols Publishers
Pages79-97
Number of pages9
ISBN (Electronic)9782503580418
ISBN (Print)9782503580401
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 08 Feb 2019

Publication series

NameBorders, Boundaries, Landscapes
PublisherBrepols
Volume2

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  • Cite this

    Toner, G. (2019). Myth and the creation of landscape in early medieval Ireland. In M. Egeler (Ed.), Landscape and Myth in North-Western Europe (pp. 79-97). (Borders, Boundaries, Landscapes; Vol. 2). Brepols Publishers. https://doi.org/10.1484/M.BBL-EB.5.115581