Timetable information in the Course Catalogue may be subject to change.

University Homepage
DRPS Homepage
DRPS Search
DRPS Contact
DRPS : Course Catalogue : Edinburgh College of Art : History of Art

Postgraduate Course: Makers and Making in Insular Art (Ireland and Britain, AD 600-1100) (HIAR11128)

Course Outline
SchoolEdinburgh College of Art CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course examines how art objects were made in the Insular period (early medieval Britain and Ireland, c.AD 600-1100) as well as how artists' creative agency and conscious choices shaped their making processes. Students will engage with a range of topics, including evidence for artists' social status and identities, early medieval techniques, materials, technologies and mathematical approaches to geometric ornament, and how modern art-historical and archaeological methodologies can either enrich or limit our understanding of Insular making.
Course description Insular art - a term which refers to art made in early medieval Ireland and Britain, c.AD 600-1100 - was characterised by eye-boggling geometric patterns and rich iconography in a variety of media, such as carved stone, manuscript illumination, textiles, and metalwork. This course introduces students to how Insular art objects and monuments were manufactured, as well as how artists' conscious choices and interactions with each other shaped their making processes. Classes will focus on a range of interdisciplinary topics and practical learning, from pattern drawing workshops and in-class demonstrations of activities such as tablet-weaving and embroidery, to analyses of early medieval techniques and materials, mathematical approaches to geometric ornament and composition, makers' legal and social status, the role of women artists, disruptions and innovations during the Viking Age, and the ways in which methodologies from art history and archaeology have both enriched and limited our knowledge of Insular making. We also will place Insular making in a global context through comparison with other art traditions around the world in this period. By the end of this course, students will gain a thorough grounding in Insular art and a critical understanding of why focus on makers and making is crucial for our knowledge of this period and its wider importance in the fields of art history and archaeology.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate in-depth knowledge and understanding of Insular art, in particular its principal techniques, materials and geometric patterns.
  2. Demonstrate a historically informed approach to the analysis and interpretation of Insular art, displaying some measure of critical independence.
  3. Critically examine art histories of this period, and the contribution of other disciplines including archaeology.
  4. Analyse Insular art in relation to its global context.
  5. Articulate the significance of attending to the role of makers and making in scholarship of this historical period.
Reading List
Celts: Art and Identity, eds. Julia Farley and Fraser Hunter (British Museum & National Museums Scotland, 2015)

Alexandra Lester-Makin, The Lost Art of the Anglo-Saxon World: The Sacred and Secular Power of Embroidery (Oxbow Books: 2019)

Cynthia Thickpenny, 'Abstract Pattern on Stone Fragments from Applecross: The Master Carver of Northern Pictland?', Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland 148 (2019), 147-176

Heather Pulliam, 'Eyes of Light: Colour in the Lindisfarne Gospels', in eds. J. Ashbee & D.J. Luxford, Newcastle and Northumberland: Roman and Medieval Architecture and Art (Maney Publishing: 2013), p. 54-72

Stephen Walker, 'The Kerbschnitt Technique on the Ardagh Chalice', in eds. Conor Newman, Mags Mannion, and Fiona Gavin, Islands in a Global Context: Proceedings of the Seventh International Conference on Insular Art, Held at the National University of Ireland, Galway, 16-20 July 2014 (Four Courts Press: 2017), p. 233-241
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Visual and critical analysis; Clear thinking and the development of an argument; Independent research; Presentation and communication skills; The ability to articulate ideas clearly in writing; Organisation and planning; Teamwork through group discussion
KeywordsInsular art,Medieval,Pattern,Geometry,Manuscript Illumination,Craft
Course organiserMs Hope Doherty-Harrison
Course secretaryMr Nathan Ross-Hammond
Tel: (0131 6)51 5880
Help & Information
Search DPTs and Courses
Degree Programmes
Browse DPTs
Humanities and Social Science
Science and Engineering
Medicine and Veterinary Medicine
Other Information
Combined Course Timetable
Important Information