by Paul Gosling
River-fords are a common but half-forgotten feature of the Irish countryside, their positions recalled (if at all) only by ‘áth’ placenames, historic maps and local memory. Being gifts of nature, they are distinctly un-monumental and liminal locations. As a result, they have featured only intermittently in academic research: their existence often overlooked by archaeologists; their presence a mere backdrop for historians; their orthography, a trifling interest for philologists. Yet fords offer great potential for historic geography and landscape archaeology. As places where topography and geology intersect, river-fords offer key insights into travel, community interaction, and settlement patterns. This lecture will explore the characteristics of historic fords and offer a methodology for their identification.