Cistercian Ideals in the West of Ireland: The Landscape of Corcomroe Abbey, Co. Clare
PhD Candidate: Silvina Martin
Supervisor: Professor Tadhg O’Keeffe
Funded By: Irish Research Council Government of Ireland Postgraduate Scholar
My doctoral thesis deals with the landscape of Cistercian abbeys in the west of Ireland and the multiple impacts of these foundations on their surroundings. The main case study and focus of my work is the landscape of Corcomroe Abbey. This Cistercian abbey was founded around 1200, a time of profound and crucial changes affecting Irish territory and society. The place chosen by the Cistercian Order for this foundation is the karst landscape of the Burren region, which is one of the richest archaeological areas of Ireland, and therefore a perfect study landscape.
The historical landscape context of Corcomroe Abbey raises two interrelated research questions: What made this location an appropriate setting for monastic estates, and, how did the Cistercian house influence its local environment? Particularly thrilling is the mutual influence of the monastic foundation and the local population. These questions will be addressed by reconstructing the extents of the abbey estates and by investigating natural and cultural elements in its landscape, as well as the interplay of these factors.
My research is driven by theoretical approaches of landscape and place archaeology, applying concepts of historical geography and other human sciences in a holistic approach. Also, I use a drone for fieldwork as a tool for exploring, documenting and displaying the landscape. My aim is to contribute to the conceptualization of the landscape as a carrier of various meanings in respect of power display, social hierarchy, territory and control over resources. I also pursue links between the past and today’s landscape, aiming for research that engages manifold audiences and encourages the protection of the landscape.
I am an art historian specialised in archaeology of architecture. I have wide working experience in archaeological fieldwork, architectural investigation and documentation, particularly in German Cistercian monasteries. Since 2019 I am in Ireland doing my PhD in archaeology, studying the Cistercian states, especially Corcomroe Abbey in County Clare.