Photo of Mairin MacCarron.Dr Máirín MacCarron

B.A. and Ph.D. (NUI, Cork)
PGCert. and PGDip. in Teaching & Learning in H.E. (NUI, Cork)

Early Medieval history: Anglo-Saxon England and Early Medieval Ireland

m.maccarron@sheffield.ac.uk

+44 (0)114 22 22554 | Jessop West room 2.10

Semester Two Office Hours: Tuesdays 14:00-15:00 and Wednesdays 10:00-11:00

Profile

Biography

Máirín MacCarron joined the Department in 2015, having studied History and Archaeology, and completed a PhD in Medieval History in Cork. She has taught in University College Cork, NUI Galway, and the University of Leicester, and was co-ordinator of the Heritage Project at the National Print Museum, Dublin. In 2012, she was awarded the National University of Ireland Dr Garret FitzGerald Postdoctoral Fellowship, which she held at NUI Galway.
Her research focuses on Anglo-Saxon England and Early Medieval Ireland, and has three main strands: Time, chronology and the writing of history in the early medieval world; Women in religious life and the presentation of their lives in hagiography and history; and Digital Scholarship and Computing in the Humanities. She has published on each of these areas and is currently completing a monograph on Bede and Time.

Research

Research

Máirín’s research centres on the early medieval period, with a focus on Britain and Ireland, and a particular interest in the transmission and transformation of themes and ideas from the Mediterranean World of Late Antiquity to these islands. Her current projects are:

Time, chronology and the writing of history: Máirín is currently preparing a monograph Bede and Time: chronology, computus and theology in the early medieval world for publication in 2017 (Routledge: Studies in Early Medieval Britain and Ireland). This is the first comprehensive analysis of Bede’s thought on time, based on an examination of computus, theology and history. The book argues that Bede innovatively and influentially combined computus, theology and history, thereby transforming his contemporaries’ understanding of time and chronology.

Network science and medieval sources: in collaboration with Coventry University’s Applied Mathematics Research Centre and physicists in Oxford University, Máirín is exploring the applications of mathematical network science to medieval sources. In particular, her research analyses the social networks represented in medieval hagiographies, and, among other research questions, quantitatively and qualitatively assesses the position of women in these networks.

Publications

Books

Maths meets Myths: complexity-science approaches to Folk-tales, Myths, Sagas and Histories, eds R. Kenna, M. MacCarron and P. MacCarron (Springer Verlag, Understanding Complex Systems, Cham: 2016)

Maths meets Myths: complexity-science approaches to Folk-tales, Myths, Sagas and Histories, eds R. Kenna, M. MacCarron and P. MacCarron (Springer Verlag, Understanding Complex Systems, Cham: 2016)

This book brings together specialists in the Humanities and Sciences to demonstrate the potential for inter-disciplinary collaboration between disparate fields. Contributions analyse world mythologies, hagiography, folk-tales, chronicles and other sources using a combination of quantitative and qualitative approaches, including network science and principle component analysis.

Book Chapters

‘Medieval Historical, Hagiographical and Biographical networks’, with Robert Gramsch, Pádraig MacCarron and Joseph Yose, in Maths meets Myths: quantitative approaches to ancient narratives, eds R. Kenna, M. MacCarron and P. MacCarron (Springer Verlag, Cham: 2016), pp. 45–69

‘Medieval Historical, Hagiographical and Biographical networks’, with Robert Gramsch, Pádraig MacCarron and Joseph Yose, in Maths meets Myths: quantitative approaches to ancient narratives, eds R. Kenna, M. MacCarron and P. MacCarron (Springer Verlag, Cham: 2016), pp. 45–69

The genre of hagiographical writing in the Middle Ages has often posed problems for a modern audience who are attempting to discern ‘what happened’ in the past. Many scholars dismiss hagiographies as unhistorical, while others seek to mine them for ‘historical’ information without considering the intentions of the author. A more cohesive approach allows the texts to be examined on their own merits, which enhances our knowledge of the time and provides an insight into the thought-world of the author. This essay will show how applying network science to this genre of writing enables us to ask new questions of these sources, and has the potential to illuminate our understanding of the these texts and increase our knowledge of the social worlds of past societies.

‘Christology and the Future in Bede’s Annus Domini,’ in Bede and the Future, eds P. Darby and F. Wallis (Ashgate, Farnham: 2014), pp. 161–79

‘Christology and the Future in Bede’s Annus Domini,’ in Bede and the Future, eds P. Darby and F. Wallis (Ashgate, Farnham: 2014), pp. 161–79

Bede’s application of Anno Domini dating to narrative history in his Historia Ecclesiastica Gentis Anglorum was an innovation that exercised an extraordinary influence on future generations, continuing to the present day. Bede’s use of AD-dating in the Historia ecclesiastica was inspired by his understanding of the salvific nature of the Incarnation and his views on the nature of Christ. This essay considers what Bede aimed to achieve in presenting his contemporaries with a means of measuring time that was inherently Christ-centred. It argues that this has implications for understanding Bede’s aims and objectives in writing the Historia ecclesiastica and show that in restructuring the past Bede consciously attempted to influence the Anglo-Saxons’ perceptions of the future.

‘Bede, Annus Domini and the Historia Ecclesiastica Gentis Anglorum,’ in The Mystery of Christ in the Fathers of the Church, eds J. Rutherford and D. Woods (Four Courts Press, Dublin: 2012), pp. 116–34

‘Bede, Annus Domini and the Historia Ecclesiastica Gentis Anglorum,’ in The Mystery of Christ in the Fathers of the Church, eds J. Rutherford and D. Woods (Four Courts Press, Dublin: 2012), pp. 116–34

‘The Adornment of Virgins: Æthelthryth and her necklaces’, in Listen, O Isles, Unto me: Studies in Medieval Word and Image in honour of Jennifer O'Reilly, eds E. Mullins and D. Scully (Cork University Press: 2011), pp. 142–55

‘The Adornment of Virgins: Æthelthryth and her necklaces’, in Listen, O Isles, Unto me: Studies in Medieval Word and Image in honour of Jennifer O'Reilly, eds E. Mullins and D. Scully (Cork University Press: 2011), pp. 142–55

Journal Articles

Bede, Irish Computistica and Annus Mundi, Early Medieval Europe 23.3 (July 2015), pp. 290–307

Bede, Irish Computistica and Annus Mundi, Early Medieval Europe 23.3 (July 2015), pp. 290–307

Bede’s decision to diverge from the mainstream chronological tradition, based on the Septuagint, in favour of the Vulgate for chronology has generally been explained by his concerns about contemporary apocalypticism. This essay will argue that Bede’s choice of Annus Mundi was also greatly influenced by Irish computistica. These texts incorporate a chronological framework – influenced by Victorius of Aquitaine’s Easter Table – that was implicitly and explicitly apocalyptic and provided a date for the Passion that Bede objected to. Bede was greatly indebted to Irish computistica but adopting the Vulgate Annus Mundi allowed him to assert his own views on chronology

‘Royal Marriage and Conversion in Bede’s Historia Ecclesiastica Gentis Anglorum’, Journal of Theological Studies (at press)

‘Royal Marriage and Conversion in Bede’s Historia Ecclesiastica Gentis Anglorum’, Journal of Theological Studies (at press)

Book Reviews

Peritia, Reviews in History, Nottingham Medieval Studies, History, The Medieval Review.

Peritia, Reviews in History, Nottingham Medieval Studies, History, The Medieval Review.

Teaching

Course Convenor

Pagans, Christians and Heretics in Medieval Europe, HST114 (2016-2017)

Pagans, Christians and Heretics in Medieval Europe, HST114

Ranging across a millennium of history, you will find out on this module about the conversion of the Roman Empire and then of the barbarians, the rise of Islam, the imperial coronation of Charlemagne, the eleventh-century reform of Christianity in the west, the emergence and repression of heresy, the Crusades, the papal monarchy, and ideas about the end of the world, amongst other topics. The theme that lies at the module's heart, holding it all together, is the central question of the relations between power, religion and identity between the fourth and the fourteenth centuries in Europe.

Module Leader

Medieval Women, HST2506 (2016/2017)

Medieval Women, HST2506 (2016/2017)

Women have always constituted half the human population, but until recently – and in fact still often today – history has been taught and written almost as if everyone was male. This wide-ranging course takes a very different approach, exploring the Middle Ages instead through the ​eyes of ​women​. From queens to nuns, from pilgrims to visionaries,​ from peasant women to female urban traders,​ women in the Middle Ages exercised power, made choices and took decisions that affected all society. Through a series of intriguing case studies,​ drawing on a wide range of sources including documents produced by women themselves, art, and archaeology,​ and building on a rich historiography, this course opens up the 'other half' of medieval history​. It sheds light not only on gender relations​ and familiar women's history topics such as​​ ​sexuality and the​ family​, but also on themes that affected the lives of both women and men in the Middle Ages, such as invasions, disease, religious devotion, mobility, and social and economic inequality.

Approaching the Middle Ages, HST6601 (2016/2017)

Approaching the Middle Ages, HST6601 (2016/2017)

This core module provides you with a grounding in key themes and debates in current medieval research. Classes will focus on historiographical developments and new methodological approaches to familiar problems, covering topics such as the problems of studying pre-industrial societies, the interpretation of material culture, methods for studying the medieval economy, and the examination of power structures and political culture. You will also be introduced to technical and methodological problems associated with the effective use and interpretation of pre-modern sources, such as court records, tax records and accounts, chronicles and pamphlets, paintings, drawings and artefacts.

Warriors, Saints and Heroes in Early Medieval Britain, HST204 (2015/2016)

Warriors, Saints and Heroes in Early Medieval Britain, HST204 (2015/2016)

This module explores patterns of power in early medieval Britain from the withdrawal of Roman authority in the fifth century through to the incursions of the Vikings in the ninth. We will focus on Anglo-Saxon England, though Wales and Scotland will also come into consideration. Central themes include the problem of where the Anglo-Saxons came from, the relations between independent Anglo-Saxon kingdoms, the role of the Church in reshaping ideas of royal power, the nature of heroic warrior culture, Anglo-Saxons' sense of their place in the wider world, and the changing distributions of power in their own society. We will explore a range of sources, ranging from archaeological excavations and coins to poetry, travel-writing and historical chronicles.

1066 And All That, HST2023 (2015/2016)

1066 And All That, HST2023 (2015/2016)

This document option examines the Norman Conquest of England in 1066, the most famous date in English history, looking at its causes, course, conditions, context and consequences. Through the close study of key primary sources for the topic, all readily available in modern English translation, the module explores what this conquest meant for those involved in it, both Norman and English, in terms of politics, religion, social relations, gender and historical consciousness. The module will also touch upon the impact the Conquest had upon the neighbouring countries of Wales, Scotland and Ireland.

King Alfred the Great - Between Vikings and Franks, HST3115/3116 (2015/2016)

King Alfred the Great - Between Vikings and Franks, HST3115/3116 (2015/2016)

King Alfred was one of the most extraordinary of medieval kings: a warrior against the Vikings, a lover of literature, a victim to mystery illnesses, and a key figure in the emergence of a united England. This module aims to understand Alfred and his achievements by putting him in a continental context, with special attention to the Carolingians across the Channel. How similar were these kingdoms, how important were the relations between them in helping their kings surmount the formidable obstacles they faced, and what can we learn by studying them together?

The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages, HST6048 (2015/2016)

The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages, HST6048 (2015/2016)

This module introduces students to this important feature of Church and medieval society, which has attracted much historiographical interest in recent years. It focuses particularly on the formation of the concept of sanctity in Late Antiquity and then on the development of the phenomenon and the challenges it encountered when it spread across the Mediterranean into the North-Western regions (and beyond the frontiers) of the declining Western Roman Empire. The module aims not only to introduce students to surviving evidence and historiographical debates, but also to give them an insight into the wider historical context of the emergence of Christendom.

Lecturer

History Workshop, HST120 (2016/2017)

History Workshop, HST120 (2016/2017)

Paths from Antiquity to Modernity, HST112 (2015/2016)

Paths from Antiquity to Modernity, HST112 (2015/2016)

Taking you from the height of the Roman Empire to the Fall of the Berlin Wall, this module is an introduction to the dominant narrative of History, from a European perspective (though the module ventures widely beyond Europe when appropriate). Each lecture looks at a particular historical 'turning point', while the weekly seminar takes a more thematic approach, tackling historical notions such as revolutions, progress, globalisation and renaissance. By the end of the module, you'll have a sense of the broad sweep of History, fascinating in itself but particularly useful for single and dual honours students as preparation for more detailed study at Levels II and III. You will also have an appreciation of the importance of periodisation (how historians divide up time), and the problematic concept of modernity. This module is explicitly intended to aid with the transition to the study of History at University.

Public Engagement

Public Engagement

Máirín is committed to the public understanding of history and the past, and frequently presents to local history societies and community groups, most recently:

  • The Friends of the World of Bede, 9 April 2016
  • Sheffield Anglo-Saxon and Medieval Society (SAMS), 28 April 2016
Administrative Duties

Current Administrative Duties

Level I Tutor (Single Honours)