Data Analysis on the Battle of Clontarf

New analysing techniques for medieval manuscripts.
The entire Cogadh network of interacting characters. From ‘Network analysis of the Viking Age in Ireland as portrayed in Cogadh Gaedhel re Gallaibh.’ (Source: Royal Open Science)

This week, the Archaeology News Network published an excellent article on digital, medieval text analysis. It covers the intriguing academic publication from early January in Royal Society Open Science.

Scientists have used computer science to create a network of the characters in a medieval text. By applying a computational method, they hoped to get more insight into the two factions fighting each other at the battle of Clontarf. To this end, they used the medieval text Cogadh Gaedhel re Gallaibh (War of the Irish with the Foreigners). The battle, fought 1014, is generally seen as the end of the Vikings in Ireland. The original theory claims that this was a decisive battle between the Irish and the Vikings. But a contra-theory declares that this was actually a battle between the Irish, in other words, a civil war.

So, who is right? And can this new approach clarify matters? Instead of summarizing the article and its outcome here, I recommend reading the Archaeology Network article first, and then the original source.

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