This book is the first to explore the archaeology of female monasticism in medieval Ireland, primarily from the twelfth to the sixteenth centuries. Nuns are known from history, but this book considers their archaeology and upstanding architecture through perspectives such as gender and landscape. It discusses the archaeological remains associated with female monasticism in Ireland as it is currently understood and offers insights into how these religious communities might have lived and interacted with their local communities. It briefly includes female religious of the early medieval period, other female religious, such as anchorites, while providing a wider European monastic context. While some nunneries used what is considered a typical monastic layout-of a church and other buildings arranged around a central area-this research has found that in many cases a nunnery was a small church with attached accommodation, or a separate dwelling; particularly when nuns lived in towns. Medieval women became nuns for various reasons and followed a daily routine called the divine office, with occasions, like saints' feast days, celebrated in special ways. It is sometimes suggested that all nuns were locked away, but history and archaeology show that they had many connections with the world outside. Nunneries had to maintain these ties in order to function and stay relevant, so the local community and benefactors would continue to support the nunnery as their church, and for some, their place of burial.
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Date of Publication: 10/09/2021