Waves of Colonisation in the Sea of Moyle
This project aims to determine the relationships between historic sites and land-use on a series of islands along the Sea of Moyle (Sruth na Maoile), to investigate how populations were able to flourish from the individual community to inter-island network from the early medieval to modern periods.
Today the Sea of Moyle constitutes a remote border zone between Scotland and Ireland, but in the past it comprised a coherent geographic region crossed by sea voyagers and linked by culture and kinship. The research reconstructs the landscape and environmental histories of small islands – six in the Inner Hebrides of Scotland (Islay, Colonsay, Mull, Iona, Lismore and Gigha), and two off the Irish north coast (Tory and Rathlin) – to examine the sustainability and resilience of complex socio-ecological systems and populations over time. During the timeframe under investigation, the islands experienced substantial changes in population – including in- and out-migration – and dramatic social and cultural changes, and shifted from being a core area of activity to a periphery. The project investigates if the changing nature of settlement and interconnectivity of the islands can be traced through multi-proxy sedimentary records, combining novel molecular techniques (sedaDNA and lipid biomarkers) with traditional environmental proxies (particularly diatoms and sediment geochemistry).
Impact of Research
The project is conducted with the support and inclusion of the island communities, and will contribute to their understanding of local history and development of heritage-based tourism. The project will help foster the island identities through the shared history, cultural and landscapes either side of the Irish Sea using a combination of history and science.
Dr Maarten van den Hardenbroeck (University of Newcastle)
Dr Andrew Henderson (University of Newcastle)
Dr Helen Mackay (University of Durham)
Dr Ben Spears (University of Southampton)
Dr Thierry Fonville (University of Southampton)
Historic Environment Scotland
Historic Environment Division of the Department for Communities Northern Ireland
National Monuments Service Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Dublin