Mobility is an important, multifaceted process involving complex interactions of culture, politics, and economics while also intersecting with individual identities, like religion, status, gender, and age. As such, a multitude of people from different origins can comprise a settlement or a community, which may be detectable through biogeochemical assessment. This study employs stable oxygen and carbon isotopic analysis to evaluate evidence for residential mobility within the early to late Medieval Kilroot cemetery (c. 6th to 16th centuries A.D.) at County Antrim, Northern Ireland. The site is 2.8 miles (4.5 kilometers) east of Carrickfergus Castle and the surrounding town, which was an Anglo-Norman stronghold, and its presence may have influenced mobility in its hinterland. A total of 33 individuals were sampled to examine the bone apatite (later life) homogeneity in δ18O and δ13C stable isotope compositions of the Medieval community as well as variation between sex and age groups. This research revealed no statistically significant differences between males and females, adults and subadults for δ18O and δ13C ratios, indicating that there was no gender or age preference when it came to residential mobility. By the narrow variation and isotopic homogeneity, the research shows that the Medieval Kilroot cemetery only comprised those considered local, regardless of sex or age. This suggests there was no distinguishable mobility within the region and the cemetery only included those from surrounding areas, which may imply preference for local residents around the Belfast Lough. Such homogeneity is consistent with the restricted nature of Irish tuatha (petty kingdoms or chiefdoms) described in historical documents, with Medieval individuals living, dying, and ultimately being buried around the area of Kilroot. These results provide a meaningful contribution to the growing literature for Medieval Irish movement and isotopic variation, presenting salient insights to mobility and community expectations for the time period.
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Toyne, J. Marla
Master of Arts (M.A.)
College of Sciences
Length of Campus-only Access
Masters Thesis (Open Access)
Pytleski, Hannah, "Investigating Mobility through an Oxygen Isotope Study of the Medieval Cemetery at Kilroot, County Antrim, Northern Ireland" (2022). Electronic Theses and Dissertations, 2020-. 1072.