Date of Award

May 2017

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Bettina Arnold

Committee Members

Derek B. Counts, Thomas M. Malaby, John D. Richards, Patricia Richards


GIS, Ireland, Iron Age, Ironworking, Production, Technology


The introduction of iron into Ireland during the 8th century BCE had profound influences on the organization of society, from economic and political networks to the means by which power and status were negotiated. However, the organization of iron production is still relatively poorly understood. This dissertation seeks to explore how iron technology was organized during the Early Iron Age (c. 800 – 400 BCE) and Developed Iron Age (c. 400 – 1 BCE) in Ireland, and uses this context to demonstrate that the development of new technologies can be most clearly understood by investigating the archaeological remains of production practices. Multiple levels of production were investigated in this study by compiling and synthesizing mostly unpublished excavation reports into a relational GIS database. An output from this database is an online webGIS interface which presents the multi-scalar data collected for this dissertation on iron production in these periods in Ireland. Through the evidence for iron production, this project also examines the organization of society in the Iron Age and the interconnectedness of iron technologies and the rest of social life. The application of different methods of data collection and pattern identification further illuminate the actions performed during technological activities. These actions were not only embodied by the individuals involved, at once creating meaning while recreating social life, but also were part of larger patterns of production across the Irish social landscape. Untangling the influences of technology and the products of technical practices on society provides us with a better understanding of technology itself, while simultaneously exposing the deeply embedded nature of technology within social life as a whole.