Battle and Siege Maps of Elizabethan Ireland: Blueprints for Archaeologists?

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During the reign of Elizabeth I (1558–1603), the English Crown engaged in a series of bloody wars in Ireland. Principally fought against local Gaelic Irish and Anglo-Irish lords, these conflicts paved the way for the plantation and colonisation of the late 16th and 17th centuries. As the fighting raged, surveyors, cartographers and engineers produced maps of key locations throughout the country. These were created principally to aid the military effort, but were also designed to provide interested parties in England with a visual reference for events.

This paper will examine one form of this map production, namely the numerous battle and siege maps drawn throughout the period. It will explore the potential accuracy of the depictions, and suggest methods for correctly 'reading' these primary documents. The importance of critically examining the maps against other primary sources and the topographical landscape will be discussed, suggesting a methodology for how this resource can be utilised by conflict archaeologists. In addition, it will demonstrate through a number of examples how these research techniques can be successfully applied.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)217-232
JournalJournal of Conflict Archaeology
Publication statusPublished - 14 Nov 2007


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