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Thomas Finan, Ph.D., FSA

Chair of the Department of History; Associate Professor

Courses Taught

Origins of the Modern World to 1500; The Medieval British Isles; Medieval Ireland; Medieval Archaeology; The Medieval Castle in History and Archaeology; Field Methods in Historical Archaeology; Readings in Medieval Ireland; Readings in Medieval England; Seminar in Medieval Ireland; Seminar in the Medieval British Isles.


Ph.D., Catholic University of America, 2001;

M.A., University of Chicago, 1991;

B.A., University of Missouri - Columbia, 1989

Research Interests

My main focus of research is the history and archaeology of later medieval Ireland, particularly the history of the borderlands region of the Shannon River in Roscommon in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. Since 2002 I have been director of the Kilteasheen Archaeological Project, one of the largest ongoing archaeological surveys and excavations in Ireland. Kilteasheen is a high status Gaelic ecclesiastical enclosure that includes a cemetery, thirteenth century hall house, and an elaborate medieval field system. I also conduct research a number of other fields, including the historical theology of the later medieval Gaelic church, thirteenth century bardic poetry, the history of the O Conor and Mac Dermot families of Roscommon, and landscape history of north Roscommon.

Since 2008 I have been an invited delegate of the Chateau Gaillard International Castle Studies Conference. I attended the 2008 conference in Stirling, Scotland, the 2010 the conference in Rindern, Germany, a 2012 conference in Denmark, a 2016 conference in Roscommon, Ireland, and an upcoming conference in Goldegg, Austria. All presentations at the conferences are published in the conference proceedings.

Labs and Facilities

Graduate Students, Past and Present:

Thomas Barrows
Kailen Kinsey
Emma Leigh Calhoun
Paul Smith

Meg Smith (PhD)

Publications and Media Placements


  • The King’s Cantreds:  Politics, Ethnicity and Identity on the Thirteenth Century Irish Frontier. Turnhout: Brepols, 2017.
  • A Nation in Medieval Ireland? Perspectives on Gaelic National Identity, 1200-1400. Oxford, Archaeopress: 2004.


  • “Living in Medieval Gaelic Castles.” Coloque International de Chateau Thierry 29 (Caen University Press, 2020).
  • “The Rock of Lough Key and the Moated Site at Rockingham: Components of a Lordly Landscape.” Chateau Gaillard: Etudes de Castellogie Medievale, 28, Coloque International de Roscommon 28 (Caen University Press, 2018).
  • "Medieval Moated Sites in County Roscommon, Ireland: A Statistical Approach," Chateau Gaillard: Etudes de Castellogie Medievale, Aarhus (University of Caan, Volume 26, 2014).
  • "Dental microwear texture analysis of mandibular molars from Medieval Ireland and England." Federations of American Societies of Experimental Biology Journal 26 (2012): 9976.
  • "Castle Reconstruction using 3D Computer Technology," Chateau Gaillard: Etudes de Catellogie Medievale, Rindern (University of Caan, Volume 25, 2012).
  • "Bioarchaeology of a medieval Irish ecclesiastical settlement," American Journal of Physical Anthropology (Spring, Volume 52, 2011), 135.
  • "Violence in Medieval Ireland, Eolas: The Journal of the American Society of Irish Medieval Studies (Volume 4, 2010), 86-97.
  • "The Hall House at Kilteasheen, Co. Roscommon, Ireland," Chateau Gaillard: Etudes de Catellogie Medievale, Stirling (Volume 24, 2010).
  • "The Future of Irish Medieval Studies." Eolas: The Journal of the American Society of Irish Medieval Studies (Volume 3, 2009), 1-5.
  • "The Bardic Approach to God: Vernacular Theology in Gaelic Ireland, 1200-1400," Journal of the American Society of Irish Medieval Studies (Volume 2, 2007).
  • "Editors Note: Medieval Irish Studies in the United States," Journal of the American Society of Irish Medieval Studies (Volume 1, 2006): 1-6.
  • "The Ecclesiastical Moated Site at Kilteasheen, Co. Roscommon," Archaeology: Ireland (Fall, 2005).
  • "Prophesies of the Expected Deliverer in Thirteenth and Fourteenth Century Irish Bardic Poetry," New Hibernia Review (August, 2002): 113-125.
  • "The Moated Site at Cloonfree," Journal of the Galway Archaeological and Historical Society (July 2002), 72-87; Reprinted as "The Moated Site of Cloonfree," The Journal of the County Roscommon Society for History and Archaeology.

Edited Volumes

  • Archaeology, People, and Landscapes:  Essays in Honor of Jenna Higgins. Knockvicar: Institute of European Archaeology, 2012. (Editor)
  • Medieval Lough Ce: History, Archaeology, and Landscape (Dublin, Four Courts Press: 2010) (Editor)

Book Chapters

  • “The Market Town at Medieval Lough Key.” Medieval Irish Towns in Light of Recent Excavations, (Wordwell, 2020).
  • “MacDermot Identity in the Thirteenth Century.” in Fitzpatrick and Horn, Becoming and Belonging in Medieval Ireland, UCC Press, Cork, 2018.
  • "Hall Houses, Church, and State in Thirteenth-Century Roscommon: The Origins of the Irish Tower House," in The Tower in Medieval Europe (Shaun Tynan Press, Leister, 2014)
  • "The medieval bishops of Elphin and the lost church at Kilteasheen," in Princes, Prelates, and Poets in Medieval Ireland: Essays in Honour of Katharine Simms (Four Courts Press, Dublin, 2013).
  • "O'Conor Grand Strategy and the Connacht Chronicle in the Thirteenth Century," in Medieval Lough Cé: History, Archaeology, Landscape (Four Courts Press, Dublin, 2010).

Honors and Awards

  • English Editor, Chateau Gaillard Castle Studies Colloque
  • Fellow, Society of Antiquaries of London, (Elected 2012)
  • Post-Excavation Archaeological Research Grant (Co-PI), the Kilteasheen Archaeological Project, Royal Irish Academy (2009-2010)
  • American Delegate, Chateau Gaillard Colloque for Castle Studies (2008-)
  • President, American Society of Irish Medieval Studies (2005-9)
  • Registered Professional Archaeologist (2004-)
  • Presidential Research Fund (Co-PI):  Medieval Lives, Dental Micro-wear and Post-cranial Asymmetry Analysis of Skeletal Remains in the Medieval British Isles
  • Heritage Council of Ireland Archaeological Research Grants (PI), Kilteasheen Archaeological Project (2004-06)
  • Royal Irish Academy Archaeological Excavation Grants (Co-PI), Kilteasheen Archaeological Project (2006-2009)
  • President, American Society of Irish Medieval Studies (ASIMS), 2005-09.
  • General Editor of Eolas: The Journal of the American Society of Irish Medieval Studies (Volumes 1-3).Fellow, The Society of Antiquaries of London (2012-)
  • Member, Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland
  • Member, Institute of Archaeologists of Ireland