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Dr Meriel McClatchie


Meriel McClatchie

Lecturer/Assistant Professor In Archaeology
School of Archaeology
01 716 8314
University College Dublin, School of Archaeology, Newman Building Belfield Dublin 4


CURRENT RESEARCH PROJECTS "FOODCULT: Food, Culture and Identity in Ireland, 1550-1650" I am a Project Partner for a new ERC-funded project (Starter Grant awarded to Dr Susan Flavin, Trinity College Dublin). The project is exploring diet and food culture in 16th and 17th century Ireland, finding out what was on the dinner table before the arrival of the potato into this region. The five-year project is bringing together historians, archaeologists and scientists to investigate what was eaten, where, why and by whom, at a level never before attempted in Europe. I am overseeing development of an archaeological database in UCD, where we are mapping dietary evidence across different regions and social contexts through collation and analysis of archaeobotanical, zooarchaeological and artefact data. We will work closely with the wider project team -- including historians, environmental archaeologists, isotope analysts and residue analysts -- to develop new understandings of food production, preparation and consumption. Project website: "Seeing beyond the site: settlement and landscapes of later prehistoric Ireland" Funded by Heritage Council INSTAR grants (2014-2016), this project is investigating Late Bronze Age and Iron Age Ireland through integrated analyses of archaeological and palaeoenvironmental data. I am responsible for co-ordinating collation and analysis of archaeobotanical and zooarchaeological data from excavations around Ireland. Further information on the project can be found at: "Late prehistoric farming in southern Britain: a comparative study of archaeobotanical data from five Iron Age sites" Funded by the Association for Environmental Archaeology Research Fund (2015), this project is investigating agricultural remains from several Iron Age excavations in Britain. Together with Dr Sue Colledge and Prof. Gordon Hillman (Institute of Archaeology, University College London), I am completing work on plant remains assemblages that was begun by Hillman several decades ago. "COMPAG: Comparative pathways to agriculture" Funded by a European Research Council Advanced Grant, this five-year project began in 2013 under the direction of Prof. Dorian Fuller at the Institute of Archaeology, University College London. The project will produce the first global comparative synthesis of the convergent evolution of domesticated plants and early agricultural systems. I have worked with the project team since 2015 to provide expertise on the domestication of oat and other crops. RECENT RESEARCH PROJECTS "The early medieval agricultural revolution: archaeobotanical evidence for transformations in crop production in Ireland within its northwest European context, AD 500-1100" In 2014, I completed a post-doctoral research fellowship at UCD School of Archaeology, funded by an NUI Dr Garret FitzGerald Post-doctoral Fellowship in the Humanities. I undertook a research project on agriculture in early medieval Ireland, exploiting one of the richest archaeological and environmental datasets in Europe in order to explore how people in early medieval Ireland transformed their environment and ultimately their society through large-scale production of cereal crops. Detailed and innovative analyses of newly available, high-quality plant-remains data from more than 80 excavated archaeological sites provided a new basis for re-interpreting the nature, scale and intensity of farming practices. Temporal and regional variation were explored, and the Irish evidence was examined in its wider context through comparison with data from elsewhere in north-west Europe. "New insights into legume production in early medieval and medieval Ireland" Archaeological research into cultivated plants is often focused upon cereals, resulting in a relatively poor understanding of the role of other crops. This project undertook the first ever comprehensive review of archaeological evidence for cultivated legumes in Ireland, tracing their early appearance in the record during the early medieval period through to their establishment as significant crops. Funded by the Royal Irish Academy Archaeology Research Grants scheme 2012 "Early Medieval Archaeology Project: the archaeology of livestock and cereal production" EMAP is an on-going research project based at UCD and Queen's University Belfast. I was a member of the EMAP project team at UCD in 2011, during which time I collated and analysed published and unpublished non-wood plant macro-remains evidence for agricultural activity from 60 excavations in early medieval Ireland. Funded by the Heritage Council INSTAR 2011 programme ( ) "Cultivating societies: assessing the evidence for agriculture in Neolithic Ireland" This project was based at Queen's University Belfast and examined the extent, nature and timing of Neolithic farming in Ireland through the collation, integration and analysis of unpublished and published archaeological, archaeobotanical, zooarchaeological, palaeoecological and C14 data. I was employed as a Research Fellow and Co-investigator on this project, and was responsible for collation and analysis of archaeobotanical data from more than 50 Neolithic excavations. Research revealed that arable agriculture spread quickly throughout the island following its arrival. By contrast, evidence for arable farming was more difficult to detect during the later Neolithic period. Funded by the Heritage Council INSTAR 2008-2010 programmes ( ) "Food plants in the past: building a reference collection of microscopic food plant remains" This project established a reference collection of starch granules from native starchy tuberous plants, which it is hoped will enable researchers in Ireland to develop the technique of starch identification in the reconstruction of past dietary preferences. Funded by the Heritage Council Archaeology Grants Scheme 2008 and Heritage Research Grants Scheme 2010 ( ). (PhD) "Arable agriculture and social organisation: a study of crops and farming systems in Bronze Age Ireland" Previous studies on this topic were based mainly upon evidence from plant impressions on ceramic vessels, which indicated that barley was the predominant crop of this period, with wheat playing a minor role in farming economies. Increasing intensification in agricultural production was assumed. My PhD research at the Institute of Archaeology, University College London explored an alternative dataset: charred plant macro-remains recovered from archaeological excavations. Collation and analysis of mainly unpublished data, as well as creation of new data through laboratory work, provided a strong contrast to evidence from the seed impressions record, demonstrating a greater range of crop types and agricultural strategies than previously suggested. Funded by NUI Travelling Studentship in Archaeology.


Showing 1-5 out of 5
Food Culture and Identity in Ireland 1550-1650 (FOODCULT)
1 Feb 2019 - 31 Jan 2024
A new approach to investigating ancient farming: isotope analysis
University College Dublin (UCD)
1 Apr 2018 - 30 Sep 2019
The Landscape of Medieval Barda Azerbaijan 6th - 13th Centuries AD: An archaeobotanical investigation of agriculture society and urban-rural interactions in an Islamic frontier province.
Irish Research Council (IRC)
1 Oct 2017 - 30 Sep 2020
OBRSS Research Support Scheme
University College Dublin (UCD)
1 Nov 2016 - 31 Oct 2020
Participation in major international archaeobotany conference Greece 2013
University College Dublin (UCD)
1 May 2013 - 31 Oct 2014