Virtual Record Treasury of Ireland
research-strands-iconResearch Strand

Cultures of Conquest

Recovering Voices of the Colonized, 1200–1550

Cultures of Conquest transforms access to rare documentary treasures held in Ireland and Britain, offering translations alongside digital images of the originals. These medieval manuscripts show the profound changes that Ireland experienced in the centuries following the Anglo-Norman conquest of the late twelfth century.

Within Cultures of Conquest, historians, archivists, conservators, and computer scientists are coordinating their efforts to identify, conserve, digitise, translate and transform access to Ireland’s medieval record evidence. 

Our focus is on Ireland’s experience as a colony from c.1250 to 1500. This was a crucial period in Ireland’s social, legal, institutional, and religious development. Using the lens of bureaucracy, we explore the experience of those on the margins of the English colony, and the political and cultural worldviews of Gaelic Ireland.

Research in this strand has brought together the largest collection of digitised medieval records concerning Ireland anywhere in the world. We also include many replacements for lost and destroyed records, created from the seventeenth to the twentieth centuries.

The centrepiece of this strand is the Medieval Exchequer Gold Seam, drawing on a near-continuous run of original records preserved at The National Archives (UK). The digitised collection now includes: 

  • c. 4,000 images from TNA ranging in date from 1270 to 1473;
  • 95 new translations, currently running from 1270 to 1339, with another 65 to come in the next year to provide a full translation of all the surviving receipt rolls, the records of payments into the exchequer, until 1473. 
  • All of Philomena Connolly’s translations of the payment rolls out of the exchequer for the Irish Manuscript Commission, which have been linked to images of the originals. 

In 2024, CIRCLE 2.0 was integrated into the Virtual Record Treasury of Ireland. This is a translation and reconstruction of over 15,000 medieval Irish chancery letters (over two million words in extent). 

Other highlights in our digital collections include some of medieval Ireland’s greatest treasures, including:

The team has identified original Latin, French and English records in a range of archives in Ireland, the UK and further afield, including in The National Archives (UK); the National Archives, Ireland; Public Record Office of Northern Ireland, the British Library, and Lambeth Palace Library. 

Future work will include the major collections of original deeds surviving in the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland; National Library of Ireland, Royal Irish Academy, Trinity College Dublin, Bodleian Library, Dublin City Library and Archives, and many other repositories. 

Stories from this Research Strand