Introduction

The INSTAR-funded Early Medieval Archaeology Project (EMAP) is a North/South; Archaeological Industry/University collaborative research project involving UCD School of Archaeology (University College Dublin); School of Geography, Archaeology and Palaeoecology (Queen’s University, Belfast), and several commercial archaeological sector companies such as CRDS, ACS, Archer Heritage Ltd and Margaret Gowen & Co. Ltd. EMAP was established in 2008 with Heritage Council funding and has received INSTAR funding in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012. The EMAP Phase 2 project entitled reconstructing the early Medieval Irish Economy is a three year research programme and has been funded by INSTAR in 2011 and 2012.

It is well-known that the pace, scale and intensity of archaeological excavations in Ireland between c. 1992 – 2008 has transformed the way we view past Irish societies. Early medieval archaeology in Ireland has probably benefited most from this ‘Celtic Tiger’ boom in discovery and data gathering. The need to transform this grey literature ‘data into knowledge’ and the ‘publication crisis’ in Ireland have also been established by various professional and academic institutional policy reviews. Unfortunately the recent global economic crisis has now made these matters significantly worse – i.e. much remains to be published and synthesised at a time when Irish archaeology faces unprecedented challenges. EMAP aims to play a role in identifying, collating, interpreting and disseminating this massive volume of early medieval archaeological data and in furthering research agendas in early medieval archaeological scholarship.

EMAP’s key aims and objectives can be summarised as follows –