Researchers at UCD


Eileen Reilly

Post Doc Research Fellow Lvl I

School Of Archaeology



I am an environmental archaeologist specialising in the analysis of insect remains from archaeological and palaeoenvironmental deposits. Insects are especially useful to archaeologists and palaeoecologists in helping to reconstruct past environments and living conditions.

I graduated from UCD with a joint honours degree in Archaeology and Geography (1992) and then completed an MSc in Environmental Archaeology and Palaeoeconomy at Sheffield University (1995). From 1995-2002 I worked as an archaeoentomologist on a number of prestigious multi-disciplinary excavation projects in both the research and commercial sector including The Lisheen Mine Archaeological Project, Co. Tipperary; the Viking Age Temple Bar West excavations, Dublin (both for Margaret Gowen and Company Ltd.) and Corlea Bog, Co. Longford, for the late Professor Barry Raftery, UCD. I also extended my experience outside of Ireland by participating in the INTAS 3 research project in the Troitsky quarter of medieval Novgorod, Russia, part of a multi-disciplinary team led by Professor Mark Brisbane of Bournemouth University.

My PhD research (2008) at the Department of Botany, Trinity College Dublin, examined the issue of woodland history and how natural and human-driven change through time affected insect biodiversity. Working with Professor Fraser Mitchell, my PhD supervisor, I gained vital ecological understanding of many of the species of insects I regularly encounter in archaeological deposits.

Since 2008, I have worked on a mixture of research and commercial archaeological and environmental projects including the multi-period wetland complex at Edercloon (N4), Co. Longford; the Late Bronze Age and Iron Age waterfront sites of Clancy Barracks and Ormond Quay, Dublin; the Early Medieval monastic site of Skellig Michael. Co. Kerry; the medieval town ditch of Edinburgh, Scotland and Viking-Age and medieval urban sites at Kilkenny Courthouse, Kilkenny City and Barronstrand Street, Waterford. I have also worked as a researcher on the UCC-led, EPA-funded project Extreme weather, climate and natural disasters in Ireland (2008) and the Discovery Programme's Environmental Pilot Project, collating archaeological and non-archaeological environmental data from the period 1500 BC to AD 400 (2010). 

Recently, I have worked with the National Museum analysing samples from the iconic Viking Age Fishamble Street site, excavated between 1979-1981 by Professor Pat Wallace. This work was co-funded by the National Museum of Ireland and a grant from the Environment Fund of the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (EF/HER/2011/87). This research is one of very few archaeoentomological studies of a major urban settlement in Europe. It is the vast array of findings and implications of the results from this study that has prompted my post-doctoral research project.

I was a co-author of the Environmental Sampling Guidelines for Archaeologists for the Institute of Archaeologists of Ireland (2007). More recently I have contributed to the new environmental sampling guidelines for the National Roads Authority. I have acted as a peer-reviewer for a number of journals and on the recently published Review of Archaeological Survey and Mitigation Policy relating to Bord na Mona Peatlands for the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht. 


Honours and Awards

Year: 2005.
Title: Travel grant
Year: 2005.
Title: New Researcher's Award
Year: 2006.
Title: Radiocarbon dates
Year: 2011.
Title: Environment Fund grant
Year: 2013.
Title: Government of Ireland Postdoctoral research fellowship


Association: Irish Quaternary Association, Function/Role: Member
Association: Environmental Sciences Association of ireland, Function/Role: member
Association: European Association of Archaeologists, Function/Role: member
Association: Quaternary Research Association, Function/Role: member
Association: Association for Environmental Archaeology, Function/Role: member
Association: Institute of Archaeologist of Ireland, Function/Role: Member


Committee : Working group on pay and conditions for the IAI
Committee : Board of the Institute of Archaeologists of Ireland


Employer: Margaret Gowen and Company Ltd.
Position: Environmental and EIA research archaeologist


Year 2008 Institution: Trinity College Dublin
Qualification: PhD Subject: Botany - palaeoecology
Year 1998 Institution: University College Dublin
Qualification: Dip EnvImpAssMgt Subject: Environmental Impact Assessment Management
Year 1995 Institution: University of Sheffield
Qualification: MSc Subject: Environmental Archaeology and Palaeoeconomy
Year 1992 Institution: University College Dublin
Qualification: BA (Hons.) Subject: Archaeology and Geography

Journals Edited

Quaternary International: Reviewer.
The Journal Of Irish Archaeology : Reviewer.
Environmental Archaeology: Reviewer.



Reilly, E. (2016) 'From landscape to streetscape': Insect evidence from Viking Age Fishamble Street. Dublin: National Museum of Ireland. [Details]

Book Chapters

Reilly, E., Lyons, S., OCarroll, E., O'Donnell, L., Stuijts, I., Corless, A. (2015) 'Building the towns: the interrelationship between woodland history and urban life in Viking Age Ireland' In: Broderick, L., Grau, I., Jervis, B (eds). Everyday Life in Medieval Europe: Environmental and Artefactual Approaches to Dwelling in Town and Country. Turnout, Belgium: Brepols. [Details]
Reilly, E. (2015) 'The environment of Viking-Age settlements: recent evidence from Ireland to Russia' In: Clarke, H.B.; Johnson, R (eds). Before and After the Battle of Clontarf: The Vikings in Ireland and Beyond. Dublin: Four Courts Press. , pp.297-324 [Details]
Overland, A.; O'Connell, M.; Lyons, S.; Reilly, E.; Svensson, K. (2013) 'Environment, flora and fauna' In: Jackman, N.; Moore, C.; Rynne, C (eds). The Mill at Kilbegly. Dublin: National Roads Authority. , pp.60-96 [Details]
Reilly, E. (2012) 'Fair and Foul: Analysis of sub-fossil insect remains from Troitsky XI-XIII, Medieval Novgorod Excavations 1996-2002' In: Brisbane, M.; Makarov, N.; Nosov, E (eds). The Archaeology of Medieval Novgorod in its Wider Context: A Study of Centre/Periphery Relations. Oxford: Oxbow Books. , pp.265-282 [Details]
Allen, R., O'Donnell, L., Reilly, E., Overland, A., O'Connell, M. (2012) ''Palaeoenvironmental analyses'' In: Bourke, E., Hayden, A., Lynch, A (eds). Skellig Michael, Co. Kerry: The monastery and the South Peak. Dublin: , pp.291-413 [Details]
Reilly, E. (2011) 'Wax and wane? Insect perspectives on human environment interactions' In: Stanley, M.; Eogan, J.; Danaher, E (eds). Past Times, Changing Fortunes. Dublin: National Roads Authority. , pp.85-97 Link to full text [Details]
Reilly, E. (2011) 'Appendix 6: The insect remains' In: Jones, E. et al (eds). Through the Cowgate: Life in 15th century Edinburgh as revealed by excavations at St Patrick's Church. Scotland: Scottish Archaeology Internet Reports. , pp.137-159 Available Online [Details]
Reilly, E. (2009) 'Insect remains from Lemanaghan, 1996-2001' In: OCarroll, E.; Whittaker, J (eds). Peatland Excavations 1999-2000: Lemanaghan Excavations. Dublin: Wordwell Ltd. , pp.131-149 [Details]
Reilly, E. (2008) 'A study of a Bronze Age insect fauna' In: Doody, M (eds). The Ballyhoura Hills Project. Dublin: Wordwell Ltd. , pp.443-456 Link to full text [Details]
Johnston, P.; Reilly, E. (2007) 'Plants and insect remains' In: O'Sullivan, A.; Sands, R.; Kelly, E.P (eds). Coolure Demesne crannog: an introduction to its archaeology and landscapes. Dublin: Wordwell Ltd. , pp.55-62 [Details]
Reilly, E. (2006) 'The insects, the body and the bog' In: Bermingham, N.; Delaney, M (eds). The Tumbeagh Bog Body. Dublin: Wordwell Ltd. , pp.155-171 Link to full text [Details]
Reilly, E. (2005) 'Coleoptera' In: Gowen, M.; O'Neill, J.; Phillips, M (eds). The Lisheen Mine Archaeological Project 1996-8. Dublin: Wordwell Ltd. , pp.187-209 Link to full text [Details]
Reilly, E. (2003) 'The contribution of insect remains to an understanding of the environment of Viking-age and medieval Dublin' In: Duffy, S (eds). Medieval Dublin IV. Dublin: Four Courts Press. , pp.40-63 Link to full text [Details]
Caseldine, C.J.; Hatton, J.; Gearey, B.; Stuijts, I.; Reilly, E.; Casparie, W. (2001) 'From the wet to the dry: Palaeoecological studies at Derryville Bog, Co. Tipperary, Ireland' In: Raftery, B.; Hickey, J (eds). Recent Developments in Wetland Research. Dublin: Seandálaíocht: Monograph 2, Department of Archaeology, UCD and WARP Occasional Paper 14. , pp.99-115 [Details]
Reilly, E. (1996) 'The insect fauna (Coleoptera) from the Neolithic trackways Corlea 9 and 10: the environmental implications' In: Raftery, B (eds). Trackway Excavations in the Mountdillon Bogs, Co. Longford, 1985-1991. Dublin: Irish Archaeological Wetland Unit Transactions Vol. 3. , pp.403-411 Link to full text [Details]

Peer Reviewed Journals

Eileen Reilly, Fraser JG Mitchell (2015) 'Establishing chronologies in woodland hollow and mor humus deposits using tephrochronology and radiocarbon dating'. The Holocene, 25 (2):241-252. [DOI] [Details]
Reilly, E. (2014) 'From Christchurch Place to Fishamble Street: Developments in archaeoentomology in Dublin, Ireland, since 1981'. Quaternary International, 341 :143-151. [DOI] [Details]
Lynch, L.G.; Reilly, E. (2012) 'Early medieval human burials and insect remains from Kildimo, Co. Limerick'. The Journal of Irish Archaeology, 20 :65-76. [Details]
Reilly, E. (2008) 'An ever-closing gap? Modern ecological and palaeoecological contributions towards understanding the Irish post-glacial insect fauna'. Irish Naturalists' Journal, (Special Supplement):63-71. [Details]
Ellis, C.; Crone, A.; Reilly, E.; Hughes, P. (2002) 'Excavations of a Neolithic wooden platform, Stirlingshire'. Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society and Journal of Social Archaeology, 68 :247-256. [Details]

Other Journals

Reilly, E. (2004) 'Insect remains, in E. O'Donovan et al. Excavations at Friar St, Cashel: a story of urban settlement AD 1200-1600' Tipperary Historical Journal :67-80. [Details]

Published Reports

Harney, L., O'Sullivan, A., McCormick, F., Kerr, T., Kinsella, J., McClatchie, M., Reilly, E., Keating, D., Seaver, M., and O'Hara, R. (2010) A Bibliography of Early Medieval Archaeology in Ireland: Version 3. The Early Medieval Archaeology Project (EMAP), University College Dublin/Queens University Belfast. Available Online [Details]
Kiely, G.; Leahy, P.; Ludlow, F.; Stefanini, B.; Reilly, E.; Monk, M.; Harris, J. (2010) Extreme Weather, Climate and Natural Disasters in Ireland. Environmental Protection Agency, Wexford. [Details]


Bermingham, N.; Plunkett, G.; Reilly, E.; Stuijts, I. (2009) Revealing the ancient environment of Edercloon. Articles [Details]


Research Interests

Dirt, Dwellings and Culture: Reconstructing Living Conditions in Early Medieval Ireland and northwest Europe, AD 600-1100:

I am a Government of Ireland postdoctoral research fellow, funded by the Irish Research Council (2013-2015).

In this project I aim to reconstruct living conditions in rural and urban settlements in early medieval Ireland and northwest Europe so as to create new understandings of past societies and attitudes to their living environment. I will explore how different cultures and rural/urban communities in the past perceived dirt, pollution and cleanliness and how they managed and ordered their living conditions in terms of household identities, gender relations, social status, health and disease.

This research will utilise a uniquely rich Irish environmental and archaeological dataset. Analysing these data in conjunction with contemporary historical sources and modern anthropological writings on human behaviour, I hope to elucidate the social, ideological and ecological implications of living conditions across northwest Europe in the early medieval period, a formative time in European history.

Through this research, I hope to come to a better understanding of our modern attitudes to dirt and cleanliness, and to identify universal or timeless aversions to certain kinds of dirt and waste, a topical issue among anthropologists, epidemiologists and public health researchers today.



Teaching Philosophy



Internal Collaborators

My project mentor is Dr Aidan O'Sullivan. He is Principal Investigator of the Early Medieval Archaeology Project (EMAP) - widely acknowledged as a model for academic collaboration with the commercial archaeological sector - and director of the Early Medieval and Viking Age Research Group (EMVARG), both based in UCD. He has a strong track record of achievement in scholarship, project leadership, PhD and Postdoctoral supervision. My project will benefit greatly from collaboration with a range of academic staff, postdoctoral fellows and postgraduate scholars.