Researchers at UCD


Eileen Reilly

Adjunct Research Fellow

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). 

From 2011-3,
 I worked with the National Museum analysing samples from the iconic Viking Age Fishamble Street site, excavated between 1979-1981 by Dr 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 was the vast array of findings and implications of the results from the Fishamble Street study that subsequently prompted my post-doctoral research project 'Dirt, Dwellings and Culture: Reconstructing living conditions in early medieval Ireland and Northwestern Europe, AD600-1100', funded by the Irish Research Council and mentored by Professor Aidan O'Sullivan at UCD School of Archaeology (2013-15). This work included looking at samples from the crannog excavation at Drumclay, Co. Fermanagh, and early town levels in Antwerp, Belgium. Publications and follow up research from this project is ongoing.

I was a co-author of the 'Environmental Sampling Guidelines for Archaeologists' for the Institute of Archaeologists of Ireland (2007) and more recently have contributed to the new environmental sampling guidelines for Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) (2015). 


Honours and Awards

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


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

Conference Contributions

Dr Rowena Banerjea (Reading University); Dr Eileen Reilly (University College Dublin); Dr David Orton and Hayley McParland (York University); Barbara Wouters (Aarhus University) (2016) Unravelling the formation processes of the archaeological record by integrating environmental archaeology and traditional field excavation. [Chaired Session], European Association of Archaeologists, Vilnius, Lithuania , 31-AUG-16 - 03-SEP-16.
Dr Eileen Reilly and Dr Lorna O'Donnell, Independent Environmental Archaeologists (2016) 'Of rate, man, flea and microbe': New understandings of medieval life from urban environmental archaeology. [Oral Presentation], Looking Back, Moving Forward: 70 Years of Environmental Archaeology in Ireland, Botanic Gardens, Dublin, Ireland , 19-FEB-16 - 19-FEB-16.
Dr Eileen Reilly (University College Dublin) and Dr Roos van Oosten (Leiden University) (2015) 'The filthy reality of everyday life': Reflections on dirt from prehistory to the present. [Chaired Session], European Association of Archaeologists, Glasgow, Scotland , 02-SEP-15 - 05-SEP-15.
Professor Aidan O'Sullivan, Brendan O'Neill, Dr Eileen Reilly (University College Dublin) (2015) Investigating domestic architecture and use of space in Irish early medieval house types using documentary, archaeological, environmental and experimental evidence. [Oral Presentation], European Association of Archaeologists, Glasgow, Scotland , 02-SEP-15 - 05-SEP-15.
Dr Eileen Reilly (University College Dublin) (2015) Living conditions in Viking age Dublin, Ireland, through analysis of insect remains and intestinal parasites. [Oral Presentation], Conference on the Environmental Archaeology of European Cities, Brussels, Belgium , 27-MAY-15 - 29-MAY-15.
Professor Pam Crabtree (New York University); Dr Eileen Reilly (University College Dublin); Tim Bellens and Anne Schryver, Urban Archaeology Department, City of Antwerp (2015) Beetles and bones at the dawn of a town: Faunal remains as indicators of the relationship between porto-urban Antwerp and its hinterland. [Oral Presentation], Conference on the Environmental Archaeology of European Cities, Brussels, Belgium , 27-MAY-15 - 29-MAY-15.


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


Client: UCD School of Archaeology and Dept. of Communities (Northern Ireland)
Client: Irish Archaeological Consultancy Ltd.

Journals Edited

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



Reilly, E. (2018) Living Conditions in Early Medieval Europe: A Case Study from Viking Age Fishamble Street, Dublin. Oxford: Archaeopress. [Details]

Book Chapters

Reilly, E., Lyons, S., OCarroll, E., O'Donnell, L., Stuijts, I., Corless, A. (2016) 'Building the towns: the interrelationship between woodland history and urban life in Viking Age Ireland' In: Jervis B, Broderick, L., Grau-Sologestoa, I (eds). Objects, Environment and Everyday Life in Medieval Europe. Turnout, Belgium: Brepols. , pp.67-91 [Details]
Gearey, B., Hopla, E-J., Reilly, E., McKenna, R., Fryer, V. (2015) 'Chapter 9: Palaeoenvironmental Analyses' In: Paul, S., Coll, K., Chapman, H (eds). Living with the flood: Mesolithic to post-medieval archaeological remains at Mill Lane, Sawston, Cambridgeshire. Oxford: Oxbow Book. , pp.67-78 [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

Crabtree, P., Reilly, E., Devos, Y., Wouters, B., Bellens, T., Schryvers, A. (2017) 'Environmental evidence from early urban Antwerp: new data from archaeology, micro morphology, macrofauna and insect remains'. Quaternary International, 460 :108-123. [DOI] [Details]
O'Sullivan, A., O'Neill, B. and Reilly, E. (2017) 'Early Medieval Houses in Ireland: Some Perspectives from Archaeology, Early Irish History, and Experimental Archaeology'. Eolas: the Journal for the American Society of Irish Medieval Studies, 10 :77-88. Available Online [Details]
Eileen Reilly, Fraser JG Mitchell (2015) 'Establishing chronologies in woodland hollow and mor humus deposits using tephrochronology and radiocarbon dating'. Holocene, 25 (2):241-252. [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

McClatchie, M; O Carroll, E; Reilly, E (2015) National Roads Authority palaeoenvironmental sampling guidelines: retrieval, analysis and reporting of plant macro-remains, wood, charcoal, insects and pollen from archaeological excavations. National Roads Authority, Dublin. [Details]
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]

Field Guide

Eileen Reilly (2015) The Environment of Viking age Waterford. London and Dublin: Field Guide [Details]


Reilly, E. (2006) Geochemical analysis of tephra samples from Late Holocene small hollow and mor humus deposits in Killarney National Park, Co. Kerry, Southwest Ireland. Newsletter [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 (2013-2015) 

 I was a Government of Ireland postdoctoral research fellow, funded by the Irish Research Council (2013-2015). The aim was 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. This research utilised existing rich Irish and European environmental and archaeological datasets as well as creating new datasets from Ireland and Belgium. Analysis of intestinal parasites was also undertaken from Fishamble Street and Drumclay crannog. Analysing these data in conjunction with contemporary historical sources and modern anthropological writings on human behaviour, helped 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. One paper is already published from this research, while 2 more are in preparation as well as a monograph. 

Wetland Landscapes and Environments, Archaeological Peatland Mitigation Strategy, Bord na Mona Bogs (2014-2017)
 I am analysing 83 samples for insects from multiple wetland archaeological structures e.g. platforms, trackways, in eleven different bogs across the Irish Midlands for Irish Archaeological Consultancy Ltd. on behalf of Bord na Mona. Looking at insects and plant macrofossils from above, at and below a trackway/platform helps to elucidate the local site environment of each individual site, while groups of sites can then be analysed to pick up changes across the bog both spatially and temporally. 

Insect analysis from excavations at Ribe, Northern Emporium Project, Aarhus University (2017- )
Insect analysis will form part of a multi-disciplinary scientific approach to the excavation of two plots in Ribe with the aim of understanding site formation processes, use of space within plots and within buildings, seasonality, housing density, craft working and site longevity. The project is directed by Professor Soren Sindbaek, Aarhus University, and funded by the Carlsbergfondet. 



Teaching Philosophy



Internal Collaborators

Centre for Experimental Archaeology and Ancient Technologies

Professor Aidan O'Sullivan
Brendan O'Neill

Early Medieval and Viking Age Research Group (EMVARG)
Professor Aidan O'Sullivan  

External Collaborators

Bord na Mona Peatland Strategy (2014-2017)

Dr Ellen OCarroll, Independent Consultant (wood, charcoal, pollen)
Susan Lyons, Independent Consultant (plant macrofossils) 
Tim Coughlan, Archaeological Director, Irish Archaeological Consultancy Ltd. 

Northern Emporium Project (2017- )
Professor Soren Sindbaek, Aarhus University
Dr Barbora Wouters, Aarhus University