This year marks the 1000th anniversary of the Battle of Clontarf, one of the most important events in Irish history. Scholars are gathering for a conference, starting today at Trinity College Dublin that will look at the battle, which took place on 23 April 1014, and saw Brian Boru defeat the King of Leinster and his Viking allies.
Entitled Clontarf 1014-2014, the 16th Medieval Dublin Symposium organised by Trinity’s Department of History in partnership with Dublin City Council will bring together for the first time all the world’s leading authorities on the subject. The conference aims to establish the truth of what really happened at Clontarf for a twenty-first century audience, to re-evaluate the role of Brian Boru in the light of the latest cutting-edge research, and to bring recent investigations of the subject of the high-kingship of Ireland and of the role of the Vikings in medieval Ireland into the realm of public discourse.
The 16 papers being given at the conference include ‘What actually happened at the Battle of Clontarf?’ by Seán Duffy, ‘Brian Bóraimhe and the Battle of Clontarf in later Irish tradition’ by Meidhbhín Ní Úrdail, and ‘Ireland in 1014: the great of church and state’ by Donnchadh Ó Corráin.
The university is also hosting exhibition at Trinity College Library, entitled ‘Emperor of the Irish’: Brian Boru and the Battle of Clontarf, 1014, places the historic Brian in his true context, while highlighting the development of his legend. Between April and October this year, visitors to Trinity College Library’s Long Room can explore Brian’s life, and afterlife, through a collection of exhibits, which date from his own era up to the 21st century.
The principal exhibit is the famous 9th-century Book of Armagh, which will be displayed alongside the Book of Kells. The Book of Armagh is the only surviving item that is known for certain to have been in Brian’s presence; it contains an inscription detailing an agreement in 1005 between Brian and the church of Armagh, hailing him as Emperor of the Irish. A further 40 items (including medieval manuscripts and metalwork) will illuminate aspects of Brian’s life and legend. Among these are such treasures as the 12th-century Book of Leinster, the Annals of Ulster and the Brian Boru Harp.
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