New book on the Fir Tulach Kingdom

The NRA and Westmeath County Council are delighted to announce the publication of Settlement and Community in the Fir Tulach Kingdom by Paul Stevens and John Channing. This new book describes three significant excavations on the M6 and N52 in County Westmeath, which cross the early medieval territory of the Fir Tulach (‘Men of the hills’) in the heart of the Irish midlands. Part of ancient Mide (Meath), the territory lay at the very centre of early Irish ecclesiastical affairs and political power, and was home to once-powerful ruling families which were superseded by the Anglo-Norman Tyrrells. Later, the Kingdom became part of the Barony of Fartullagh in the modern County of Westmeath. 

Along the M6 and N52 routes, Valerie J Keeley Ltd excavated three early medieval sites for Westmeath County Council and the National Roads Authority. Rochfort Demesne provided a fascinating insight into the development of an enclosed settlement (ringfort). A remarkable collection of over 1,000 early–late medieval burials within a mainly local and agrarian population is revealed at Ballykilmore. Finally, a high level of art and industry is accredited to a monastic community at Clonfad, culminating in unique evidence for the manufacture of a brazed iron handbell. The excavations are individually described and illustrated in detail in this book, with full interpretations, discussion and analysis of the archaeological, historical, scientific and environmental background in the wider early medieval context. The book is also accompanied by a CD which includes two additional scientific and technical chapters on the large assemblage of human remains and highly significant metallurgical analysis. 

Settlement and Community in the Fir Tulach Kingdom: archaeological excavation on the M6 & N52 road schemes (ISBN 978-0-9564180-9-8) is published by the National Roads Authority and Westmeath County Council. It is available through bookshops or directly from Wordwell Books, Unit 9, 78 Furze Road, Sandyford, Dublin 18 (tel: +353 1 2947860; e-mail:;