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Friday, March 15, 2019

Lecture: Waterford and New Ross: piracy, court cases and the theft of silver – medieval economic politics in action

Waterford and New Ross: piracy, court cases and the theft of silver – medieval economic politics in action

A lecture by Dr Linda Doran to the Waterford Archaeological and Historical Society will take place on the 29th March 2019 at St. Patrick's Gateway Centre at 8pm. 



The founding of the town of New Ross by William Marshal c.1200 was an integral part of the exploitation of his lordship of Leinster. The construction of the bridge at Ross linked the rich farmlands along the Barrow valley in Carlow with the new port of Ross and the caput of the lordship at Kilkenny. A sense of the importance of this bridge is reflected in the name of the town,Pons Novus, Villa Willelmi Marescalli [the new bridge, William Marshal’s town], given by King John in his letter written from Ross in June 1210From its foundation the town was an outstanding success.
The creation of New Ross disrupted the economies of neighbouring trading centres of Wexford and Waterford. Both of these towns were Norse foundations with long established commercial connections across Europe. Waterford, which had the status of a royal port, was Ireland’s nearest port to France and had strong connections with Bristol. In 1215 King John agreed to Marshal’s request that ships should be allowed bypass Waterford and sail directly into New Ross ‘if this did not hinder the trade of Waterford’. Merchants, therefore, could come right into the heart of the Marshal lordship without having to side-track to the King's town of Waterford. Using the communication hub of the navigable Barrow and Nore rivers and the ancient routeway known as theslighe culann they could then travel, by water and road, deep into the lordship. This permission was revoked four years later and re-instated and revoked at regular intervals. The need for constant petitions to have the ban on the bypassing of Waterford re-instated indicates that it was impossible to enforce. This lead to intense rivalry between the two towns. A long series of petitions, counter-petitions and charters detail the dispute that lasted almost two hundred years. This lecture will examine this dispute and will also consider the European dimension to the rivalry and, in particular to the founding of Ross.

Linda Doran is a graduate of University College Dublin where she completed her PhD in 2001. She carried out a Heritage Council-funded study of medieval settlement along the valleys of the Barrow, Nore and Suir rivers. She has published numerous papers on settlement and communication routes, is editor of the New Ross section of the Royal Irish Academy’s Irish Historic Towns Atlas and has edited books on medieval lordship (2008) and Glendalough: City of God (2011). She is a former honorary general secretary of Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland and is a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London. She lectures in medieval history in University College Dublin

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