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Name: Beatrice Wallbank

PhD: Archaeology

Provisional Thesis Title: Coastal communities and the social transformation of western Britain and Ireland, c. AD 600-1000


Thesis Description:

The early medieval coastal societies of the North Sea and the Channel have been subject to intensive study over the last ten years but there has not been a similar exploration of western Britain and Ireland, despite a wealth of new sites and data.  My thesis aims to redress this current bias; to assess the extent of maritime connection across the social spectrum in western Britain and Ireland; and to evaluate whether the social and economic dynamics of these coastal societies are similar or different to those of the North Sea and Channel regions.

I will undertake two detailed regional case studies: the west coast of Britain from the Wirral down to Pembroke and the east coast of Ireland from Dublin down to Cork, two coastlines facing one another across the Irish Sea.

My approach is interdisciplinary: amongst other sources I will use chronicles, law tracts, poetry, stone sculpture and ogham, manuscript images, graffiti and artefacts.  I will use GIS mapping to explore possible beach trading and coastal settlement sites in both Wales and Ireland, and I hope to make use of the fantastic body of evidence collected in the Early Medieval Archaeology Project, EMAP, an online resource for Irish archaeological information that has yet to be published.

My main research areas:

  • Trade, from coast to coast and from coast to inland.
  • Travel by water, both across the Irish Sea and further afield
  • Fish and marine mammal exploitation
  • Boats – their sailors, designs, and functions, as well as boats as symbols
  • Jurisdiction – to explore the relationship between power centres and coastal communities 

I intend to demonstrate that the Irish Sea coastal communities are rich in possibilities and hold an important position in discussions of the economic, cultural and social transformation of western Europe, alongside their Frankish, Frisian, Anglo-Saxon and Scandinavian counterparts.

Supervisors and Institution(s):

Dr Christopher Loveluck (University of Nottingham)

Dr Jon Henderson (University of Nottingham)


Other Research Interests:

  • Anglo-Saxon coastal communities
  • Early medieval skeuomorphs



University email address:

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