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, Britain and Ireland

m.maccarron@sheffield.ac.uk

+44 (0)114 22 22554 | Jessop West room 2.45


Profile

Biography

Máirín MacCarron is Senior Researcher on the Leverhulme Trust-funded project Women, Conflict and Peace: Gendered Networks in Early Medieval Narratives, and previously taught in the Department of History from 2015 to 2018. She studied History and Archaeology, and completed a PhD in Medieval History at University College Cork. She was awarded the inaugural National University of Ireland Dr Garret FitzGerald Postdoctoral Fellowship, which she held at NUI Galway from 2012–15. Máirín’s work has been funded by the Higher Education Authority of Ireland, the National University of Ireland, the European Science Foundation, and the Moore Institute at NUI Galway.

Research

Research

Máirín’s research centres on the early medieval period, with a focus on Britain and Ireland, and an interest in these islands’ relationship with the Mediterranean World of Late Antiquity. Her current projects are:

Women, Conflict and Peace: Gendered Networks in Early Medieval Narratives: this project seeks to interrogate the concept of Woman as Peace-weaver in the early medieval west (c. 330–735) using ground-breaking quantitative and qualitative techniques.

Bede and Time: chronology, computus and theology in the early medieval world (Routledge, Studies in Early Medieval Britain and Ireland): this monograph is the first comprehensive analysis of Bede’s thought on time and argues that Bede transformed his contemporaries’ understanding of the relationship between religion and science in the medieval world.

Publications

Books

Maths Meets Myths: Quantitative Approaches to Ancient Narratives, eds R. Kenna, M. MacCarron and P. MacCarron (Springer Verlag, Understanding Complex Systems, Cham: 2016)

Maths Meets Myths: Quantitative Approaches to Ancient Narratives, 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.

Journal Articles

Network Analysis of the Viking Age in Ireland as portrayed in Cogadh Gaedhel re Gallaibh, with J. Yose, R. Kenna and P. MacCarron, Royal Society Open Science 5 (2018)

Network Analysis of the Viking Age in Ireland as portrayed in Cogadh Gaedhel re Gallaibh, with J. Yose, R. Kenna and P. MacCarron, Royal Society Open Science 5 (2018)

Cogadh Gaedhel re Gallaibh (‘The War of the Gaedhil with the Gaill’) is a medieval Irish text, telling how an army under the leadership of Brian Boru challenged Viking invaders and their allies in Ireland, culminating with the Battle of Clontarf in 1014. Brian’s victory is widely remembered for breaking Viking power in Ireland, although much modern scholarship disputes traditional perceptions. Instead of an international conflict between Irish and Viking, interpretations based on revisionist scholarship consider it a domestic feud or civil war. Counter-revisionists challenge this view and a long-standing and lively debate continues. Here, we introduce quantitative measures to the discussions. We present statistical analyses of network data embedded in the text to position its sets of interactions on a spectrum from the domestic to the international. This delivers a picture that lies between antipodal traditional and revisionist extremes; hostilities recorded in the text are mostly between Irish and Viking—but internal conflict forms a significant proportion of the negative interactions too.

Royal Marriage and Conversion in Bede's Historia Ecclesiastica Gentis Anglorum, Journal of Theological Studies 68.2 (2017), pp. 650-70

Royal Marriage and Conversion in Bede's Historia Ecclesiastica Gentis Anglorum, Journal of Theological Studies 68.2 (2017), pp. 650-70

The prevailing view in modern scholarship is that Bede reduced the role of women in his narrative of Anglo-Saxon conversion, in contrast to Gregory of Tours, with whom Bede is unfavourably compared. In his account of the conversion of Clovis, king of the Franks, Gregory allowed an overt role for the king’s wife, Clotild, whereas in Bede’s presentation of mixed marriages between Christian queens and pagan kings his queens do not actively convert their husbands. This essay presents a counter-thesis, arguing that the importance of Christian queens can be detected in Bede’s Historia when attention is paid to scriptural imagery and exegetical allusions in his text. Bede’s Historia is the only early source that refers to Christian queens at pagan courts in Anglo-Saxon England, and his presentation indicates that these women fulfilled scriptural precepts such as 1 Cor. 7:14, ‘the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the believing wife’. This theological dimension reveals the unique role played by Christian queens in the conversion of their husbands and the significance of royal marriages in the acceptance of Christianity in Anglo-Saxon England.

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

Book Chapters

‘The Nagle family and penal Ireland: supporters of a Catholic faith under siege’, in B. Flanagan, M. O’Brien, and A. O’Leary (eds), Nano Nagle and an evolving charism: A Guide for Educators, Leaders and Care Providers (Dublin 2017), pp. 25-31 ‘The Nagle family and penal Ireland: supporters of a Catholic faith under siege’, in B. Flanagan, M. O’Brien, and A. O’Leary (eds), Nano Nagle and an evolving charism: A Guide for Educators, Leaders and Care Providers (Dublin 2017), pp. 25-31
‘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

In recent years, a new method to study narrative texts was introduced, using network analysis. The approach is original and adventurous; instead of focusing on the literary or narrative bases of the texts, it involves extracting data for a formalised analysis of network structures. These are determined from descriptions of events in the texts and their statistical properties are studied using standard network-analysis tools. In this way comparisons between chronologically and geographically different texts are possible. Furthermore, we can compare these textual networks with real social networks, studied by modern sociologists or, indeed, fictional ones. These studies have clearly shown that social-network analysis forms an effective bridge between very different disciplines. It can connect scientists and humanists in joint research; it can depict old research questions in a new light and connect different phenomena belonging to the worlds of nature and culture. The key to this bridge is the understanding of complex systems and their emergent properties. But we are still in the very beginning of exploring these issues and in developing an adequate methodology as we seek to incorporate a number of tools recently developed. Here we attempt to cross the bridge from the humanities side. To this end, we present the results of two studies of medieval sources. Our focus is on visualisation and interpretation of local network properties, an approach which is complementary to complexity analyses. We show that the method can offer powerful augmentation to traditional approaches to the humanities and we outline ways in which these can be developed for the future.

‘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

Teaching

Course Convenor

History Workshop, HST120

History Workshop, HST120

In the History Workshop you will learn the craft of the historian by working with closely with one of our academics on a particular area of their research while simultaneously developing the skills you’ll need to make the step up to university-level historical study. How do professional historians go about their work? What skills do they need? And, how do they develop them? In this module, you’ll consider these questions by engaging with real historical questions.

Pagans, Christians and Heretics in Medieval Europe, HST114

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

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.

Warriors, Saints and Heroes in Early Medieval Britain, HST204

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

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

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?

Approaching the Middle Ages, HST6601

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.

The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages, HST6048

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

Paths from Antiquity to Modernity, HST112

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.

Administrative Duties

Current Administrative Duties

Level I Tutor (Single Honours), 2016/17