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Medieval Kings and Symbolic Landscapes in Western Ireland - James Schryver, University of Minnesota - Morris


Date: 04/24/2012

Time: 4:00 PM - 5:30 PM

Location: 1210 Heller Hall

Cost: Free and open to the public


In the 1990s, scholars began to move away from a strictly military and chronological exploration of castles and to focus on other issues. In the early years of the current century, Matthew Johnson (author of Behind the Castle Gate, 2002) and others have examined the relationship between medieval castles, usually English castles, and the society that created them. Others, most notably Oliver Creighton, have studied the relationship between a castle and its landscape and have done so in a way that seeks to move beyond a view of that landscape as an afterthought and towards an understanding that it was often times an integral part of the planning and construction process from the beginning. In other words, the two existed side by side as equal parts of a symbolic program. It is this notion of looking beyond the castle gate as opposed to behind it, if one is allowed to play with Johnson’s title, that Professor Schryver will explore in his talk. He will begin by acknowledging that this is an extremely fertile field of inquiry on the one hand, but also by limiting himself to addressing the following two questions: Did the Gaelic-Irish rulers of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries inherently recognize the potential uses of the landscape beyond the practical? If so, how did they, and specifically how did the O’Conors, use the landscape in these other ways?

James (Jimmy) Schryver is a professor of Art History at the University of Minnesota, Morris, where his research interests include Greek and Roman art and archaeology, as well as Byzantine and Islamic art, Castles and Cathedrals, and the Medieval Mediterranean, particularly the art and archaeology of the Crusader states. During the summer of 2009, he was Assistant Director of the Petra Garden and Pool Complex Excavations and from 2006 to 2008 he participated in summer excavations at Tulsk, Co. Roscommon, Ireland. Some of his recent publications include “Types of Gardens: Looking towards, not from, Northwest Christendom” (forthcoming), Studies in the Archaeology of the Medieval Mediterranean (editor, 2010), and “Unraveling Butrint: Putting together a city’s history by rebuilding its walls” (2009).

Rathcroghan, the ringfort of Cruachan, just outside of the modern village of Tulsk in western Ireland, is a complex of archaeological sites with considerable importance for the study of medieval Irish culture, religion, and burial practices, with cemetery and building remains dating from the first few centuries BCE to the second half of the first millennium.  The site also figures in much of early Irish literature, featuring in the Ulster Cycle (dating from the seventh or eighth centuries and preserved in manuscripts from the twelfth through the fifteenth), as the seat of the king and queen of the Connachta.


  • Name: Center for Medieval Studies
  • E-mail: cmedst@umn.edu
  • Phone: 612-626-0805
  • Sponsored by: Medieval Studies, Art History


Parking is available at the 21st Avenue ramp and in the 19th Avenue ramp. Reciprocal contract parking is also available for those with contracts on the east bank or on the Saint Paul campus. 

More information: http://www.cmedst.umn.edu

Disability Options:

To request disability accommodations, please contact the Center for Medieval Studies.

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