Religion, Memory, and Materiality: Exploring the Origins and Legacies of Sectarianism in the North of Ireland

Audrey Horning*

*Corresponding author for this work

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The early 17th-century Plantation of Ulster, in which the English Crown sought to plant loyal British colonists in the north of Ireland, is commonly understood as overtly religious in intent and action, and is viewed as the foundation for today’s divide between Protestant and Catholic communities in Northern Ireland. Archaeological and documentary evidence complicates this straightforward narrative by demonstrating considerable cultural exchange and the emergence of hybrid practices—suggesting that, during the plantation period itself, religion may have been less influential than economic and political pragmatism. By the end of the 17th century, however, religion took on a more prominent political and cultural role, overtly materialized in objects, settlement patterns, and landscapes. The nature and timing for this transition is examined through archaeological case studies and considered in light of contemporary historical memories regarding the plantation and the origins of sectarianism in Ireland.

Original languageEnglish
JournalHistorical Archaeology
Early online date02 Aug 2021
Publication statusEarly online date - 02 Aug 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s).

Copyright 2021 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • colonialism
  • conflict
  • Northern Ireland
  • religion
  • sectarianism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archaeology
  • History
  • Archaeology


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