With support from a travel research award from the Center for Material Culture Studies and a Unidel Louise Roselle Collections-Based Research Travel Award, Ph.D. candidate Caitlin Hutchison recently spent time researching in Ireland. Hutchison spent the first leg of her trip examining high crosses in the collections of the National Museum of Archaeology- Dublin and the second in the field visiting high crosses and medieval monastic sites.
Hutchison says that a highlight of the trip was visiting Skellig Michael, a craggy island in the Atlantic, seven miles off the Iveragh Peninsula, Co. Kerry. The Skellig reaches 714 feet above sea-level; at 600-foot level, a monastery was founded sometimes between the 6th and 8th century. The site consists of corbelled beehive huts (Clochán), two oratories, a hermitage, and several crosses and slabs, and could host no more than 12 monks at a time. This UNESCO world heritage site is limited 180 visitors a day and is only accessible by a difficult crossing over the Atlantic and climbing 600 stone steps carved into a sheer rock face.