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4 May 2021 - 4 May 2021

5:00PM - 6:00PM

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4th May 2021, 17:00, Louise Nugent, Blogger, Archaeologist & Heritage Consultant

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A photo of a vaulted medieval roof forming an 8-pointed star

The video is available via the IMEMS Facebook page.


By the twelfth century pilgrimage was one of the most popular forms of religious devotion. Going on pilgrimage especially long-distance pilgrimage could be a life changing experience so much so that some pilgrims chose to be identified as pilgrims in death either through the creation of memorial stone or with the inclusion of symbols of pilgrimage such as a staff distinctive pilgrim clothing or pilgrim souvenirs within the burial. Hundreds of burials of “pilgrims” have been found across Europe. This paper will examine the small but significant number of pilgrim burial from Ireland. Using historical sources and evidence from these burials it will explore where the deceased made pilgrimage too as well how pilgrimage especially long-distance pilgrimage was viewed within the wider community. It will also compare the Irish evidence within a wider European context.

Louise Nugent is an archaeologist, researcher and blogger specialising in the archaeology and material culture of medieval and modern pilgrimage in Ireland. She has published widely on this topic and runs the blog and Facebook page Pilgrimage in Medieval Ireland.

Suggested Readings

Cunningham, B. 2018. Medieval Irish Pilgrims to Santiago de Compostela. Dublin: Four Courts Press.

Harbison, P. 1991. Pilgrimage in Ireland: the Monuments and the People. London: Syracuse University Press.

Nugent, L. 2020. Journeys of Faith: Stories of Pilgrimage from Medieval Ireland. Dublin: Columba Press.

Spencer, B. 1997. Pilgrim Signs. In M.F. Hurley, T. Barry, R.M. Cleary & O.M.B. Scully (eds.) Late Viking Age and Medieval Waterford: Excavations 1986-1992: 33-48. Waterford: Waterford Corporation.