By Bronagh Ni Chonaill
Dublin in the Medieval World: Studies in honour of Howard. B. Clarke, edited by John Bradley, Alan J. Fletcher and Anngret Simms (Four Courts Press, 2009)
Introduction: The modest aim of this contribution is to reflect upon the younger members of Hiberno-Norse society. An excavation of High Street (Dublin) bore the skeletal remains of a twelve-year-old girl, dated the the eleventh century, and although as Hadley cautions that in general ‘one cannot identify an individual Scandinavian..on the basis of height, foot size, skull circumference, blood group or genetic characteristic,’ the social historian is left to ponder the girl’s position within her community, her up-bringing and environment, and indeed her cultural milieu and ethnicity. Archaeological and documentary evidence relating to medieval Dublin has provided in-depth knowledge on a multitude of areas such as urban layout and development, building types, art styles, economic enterprise and much more – a wealth of information very much evident in H.B. Clarke’s spectacularly detailed Irish Historic Towns Atlas, Dublin and in the National Museum of Ireland/Royal Irish Academy’s archaeological publication series. To attempt to perceive the social imprint of a child within Viking-Age Dublin, however, is to face a particular challenge as the corpus of suitable documentary evidence which would facilitate a thorough exploration is somewhat lacking. Common sense prevails regarding the presence of the child within the longphort, dun and civitas.