Dr Michael Potterton’s core field of research is the history and archaeology of medieval Ireland, with special reference to landscape and settlement – urban, rural and hinterlands. He has established an international reputation as an innovative researcher, a dynamic teacher and an accomplished writer and editor. He has published thirteen books (as author, co-author or co-editor), presented cutting-edge research in nine countries, received fifteen competitively awarded scholarships and grants and organised a dozen fully booked conferences. He has designed, coordinated, taught and examined over twenty different undergraduate and postgraduate courses at five universities in three countries (MU, NUIG, UCD, Sorbonne, University of Toronto). He has also given guest lectures at QUB, TCD, the University of Wales at Lampeter, Lancaster University, East Carolina University, Appalachian State University and Wellington College (UK).
From 1996 to 1998 Michael was the Assistant Director on the multi-period research excavations at Moynagh Lough, Co. Meath. He is now the Principal Investigator on that project. Between 2005 and 2008 he spent over forty weeks training more than 150 students from fifteen countries on the archaeological excavation at the medieval castle site in Tulsk, Co. Roscommon. Michael is on the Academic Committee of the Irish Archaeological Field School and is a guest lecturer on East Carolina University’s annual study abroad programme in Wicklow.
Michael did his PhD at Maynooth. His doctoral research on medieval Trim, Co. Meath, epitomises his belief in the importance of grassroots local studies, but set firmly within an international context. Combining historical, archaeological and architectural analyses, the thesis and subsequent book (2005) demonstrate the interdisciplinary nature of his work. For seven years as a Senior Research Archaeologist with the Discovery Programme – Ireland’s institution for advanced archaeological research – Michael worked closely with other historians, archaeologists, geographers and palaeo-environmentalists on the Medieval Rural Settlement Project. One of the groundbreaking products of this approach is the 600-page Dublin Region in the Middle Ages (Murphy & Potterton, 2010), a rigorously peer-reviewed volume championed as a model for future hinterland studies internationally. Michael has presented on the results of these projects at conferences all over Ireland as well as in Britain, Hungary, France, Switzerland, Canada and the US.
In 2005 Christiaan Corlett of the National Monuments Service and Michael initiated a project to facilitate the dissemination of the results of recent archaeological excavations in Ireland, via focused conferences and high-quality publications. The project is unique in terms of both its concept and its range; it covers sites from all parts of the island and from all periods of the country’s c.10,000 years of human occupation. They have published six volumes in the series.
In 2007, together with Thomas Herron (North Carolina), Michael edited the multidisciplinary collection Ireland in the Renaissance, c.1540–1660 and in 2011 they collaborated on a follow-up volume, Dublin and the Pale in the Renaissance. In 2008, with archaeologist Matthew Seaver, Michael coordinated the ‘Uncovering Medieval Trim’ project. A conference showcased the results of recent excavations, and a subsequent book (Uncovering Medieval Trim, 2009) put the information on permanent record.
Michael is a board member of the Irish Historic Towns Atlas and a committee member of the International Commission for the History of Towns. He is on the Editorial Board of the Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy and the Journal of Irish Archaeology and is an academic advisor to various initiatives including the Brú na Bóinne World Heritage Site Research Framework, the Trim Town Walls Conservation Plan, the Blackfriary Archaeology Field School and the INSTAR Mapping Death Project. For eight years he was a Council Member of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland (RSAI) and in 2006 he became Reviews Editor of The Journal of the American Society of Irish Medieval Studies. From 2005 to 2009 he was editor of The European Archaeologist, a web-based international newsletter for the European Association of Archaeologists (EAA). As an EAA Board Member, he represented Ireland at meetings in Croatia, Malta and the Czech Republic.
From 2009 to 2015 Michael was employed as Editor (and then Senior Editor) with Four Courts Press, Ireland’s multi-award-winning and leading academic publisher. In addition to managing almost one hundred books through the publication process, Michael’s responsibilities at Four Courts included coordinating peer-review, managing funding applications and advising recently graduated PhD students on how best to convert their theses to books.
In addition to an NUI Studentship and an Irish Research Council PhD Scholarship, Michael has received ten significant grants from the Heritage Council, the Department of Arts, Heritage & the Gaeltacht, and the RSAI/Bevir Trust. The projects mentioned above (Renaissance, Recent Excavations and Uncovering Medieval Trim) have attracted funding of over €90,000 from bodies including the OPW, the County Meath Heritage Plan, INSTAR, TRIARC and the National Roads Authority, as well as collaborating institutions in the US.
Michael is an ambitious and versatile Maynooth graduate with an international research profile, a proven track record in teaching and a distinguished portfolio of publications and awards. While his research is firmly rooted in Ireland, it is of international significance and set within a global context.
In 2011 Michael was honoured by being elected a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London in recognition of his ‘major contribution to the study of medieval Ireland through teaching on excavations and at universities in Ireland and abroad, and work as author and editor’.
If any students – past, current or prospective – have any interest in or questions about any of the items mentioned above, please feel free to contact Michael at email@example.com.
Peer Reviewed Journal
|2022||Michael Potterton (2022) ''On the shoulders of giants': re-establishing the Moynagh Lough Project'. Archaeology Ireland, 36 (2):18-23.|
|2021||Potterton, Michael (2021) 'Early Medieval Ireland, 431-1169'. Irish Economic and Social History, 48 :170-172. [DOI]|
|2019||Potterton, Michael (2019) 'Cultural Exchange and Identity in Late Medieval Ireland: The English and Irish of the Four Obedient Shires'. American Historical Review, 124 :1939-1940. [DOI]|
|2014||Michael Potterton (2014) 'Obituary: John Bradley, 1954–2014'. Archaeology Ireland, 28 (4):9-9.|
|2009||Michael Potterton (2009) 'Review of An archaeology of southwest Ireland (by Colin Breen)'. Landscape History, 30 :105-105.|
|2008||Michael Potterton (2008) 'Review of Irish walled towns (by John Givens)'. Irish Arts Review (2002-), 25 (3):144-145.|
|2006||Michael Potterton (2006) 'Review of Cambridge and its economic region, 1450–1560 (by John S. Lee)'. Journal of Economic History, 66 (3):829-830. [Full-Text]|
|2006||Michael Potterton (2006) 'Review article on Trim: Irish Historic Towns Atlas, no. 14 (by Mark Hennessy)'. Ríocht Na Midhe, Records of the Meath Archaeological and Historical Society, 17 :332-337.|
|2002||Michael Potterton (2002) 'Reviews of Kilkenny: Irish Historic Town Atlas, no. 10 (by John Bradley) and Discover Kilkenny (by John Bradley)'. Irish Arts Review (2002-), 18 (2002):192-193. [Full-Text]|
|2017||Michael Potterton (2017) The Anglo-Norman town. [Article] [Link]|
|2022||Michael Potterton (2022) Moynagh Lough. Dublin: [Podcast] [Link]|
Honors and Awards
HY121 Introduction to Medieval History: Vikings and Normans (x2 hours per week), 7.5CR core
HY224 Settlement and Society: Ireland in the Middle Ages (x2 hours per week) 5CR elective
HY292 Ireland in Prehistory (x2 hours per week) 5CR elective
HY387 Towns in Medieval Ireland (x2 hours per week), 5CR elective
HY649 Medieval Ireland (x2 hours per week), 10CR elective (MA, MPhil, PhD)
Some of Dr Potterton’s previous teaching is outlined below
2011: School of Archaeology, UCD. Taught Adult Education courses on ‘The castles of the Dublin region: creating the medieval world’ and (jointly) ‘Expanding horizons: Ireland and the wider world, AD600–1800’ (including fieldtrips).
2010: School of Archaeology, UCD. Taught Adult Education course on ‘The archaeology of medieval Ireland’.
2008–2009: Lecturer, School of Archaeology, UCD. Taught courses on ‘Expanding horizons: Ireland, Europe and the Atlantic world, AD800–1800’; ‘The archaeology of identity’; ‘Historical archaeology’ (MA); supervised 7 MAs.
2006–2007: Lecturer, Department of Archaeology, NUI Galway. Contributed series of lectures to postgraduate, first- and second-year courses; taught complete third-year courses on: ‘Ireland from the Viking Age to the coming of the Anglo-Normans’ and ‘Gaelic and Plantation settlement and society’; supervised 2 MAs.
2003: Visiting Professor, Department of Celtic Studies, St Michael’s College, University of Toronto (one semester). Taught course on the archaeology and history of medieval Ireland.
2000–2005: Regular contributor to medieval courses in Department of Archaeology, NUI Galway.
1996–1997: Temporary Lecturer, Department of English, Université de Paris–IV (La Sorbonne).
1998–2005, 2009: Occasional Lecturer, Department of History, Maynooth University: designed, co-ordinated and taught 24-lecture courses on ‘Ireland 1014–1400’, ‘Research Methods for Historians’, ‘Irish Historic Settlement’ and ‘The Medieval Irish Town’; contributed to BA in Local and Community Studies Modular Degree Programme, BA in Local and Community Studies (Summer School in University of Wales, Lampeter), Modular Degree Programme (Outreach Campus, Kilkenny), Diploma in Cultural Tourism.