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Beyond the Book

408 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 33 halftones, notes, index

Published for the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture, Williamsburg, Virginia

ISBN  978-1-4696-1072-6
Published: December 2013

Ireland in the Virginian Sea

Colonialism in the British Atlantic

By Audrey Horning

In the late sixteenth century, the English started expanding westward, establishing control over parts of neighboring Ireland as well as exploring and later colonizing distant North America. Audrey Horning deftly examines the relationship between British colonization efforts in both locales, depicting their close interconnection as fields for colonial experimentation. Focusing on the Ulster Plantation in the north of Ireland and the Jamestown settlement in the Chesapeake, she challenges the notion that Ireland merely served as a testing ground for British expansion into North America. Horning instead analyzes the people, financial networks, and information that circulated through and connected English plantations on either side of the Atlantic.

In addition, Horning explores English colonialism from the perspective of the Gaelic Irish and Algonquian societies and traces the political and material impact of contact. The focus on the material culture of both locales yields a textured specificity to the complex relationships between natives and newcomers while exposing the lack of a determining vision or organization in early English colonial projects.

About the Author

Audrey Horning is professor of archaeology and director of research for Past Cultural Change at Queen's University Belfast. This is her fifth book.


“A remarkable, creative work that uncovers and illumines. . . . Essential. Upper-division undergraduates and above.”

“An engrossing book.”
--Journal of American History

“Usefully encourages us to add complexity to often-simplified understandings of cultural conflict.”
--Journal of Interdisciplinary History

"Audrey Horning interweaves the history and archaeology of seventeenth-century Ulster and Virginia to reevaluate the cliché of Ireland as a testing ground for North American colonization. In reconstructing these intersecting historical archaeologies, she provides dense and provocative case studies of Atlantic expansion. A valuable book."
--Peter Pope, Memorial University of Newfoundland

"This significant book corrects the standard but usually cursory assertion that colonizing Ireland served as a model for England's project in North America. In Horning's masterful work, the undertakings in Ulster and in Jamestown/Albemarle occurred simultaneously and were closely intertwined but ultimately distinct. No scholar will again be able to offer glib statements of the linkages between Irish and American colonialisms; instead we all must take into account Horning's sophisticated and nuanced treatment of the interplay between these two projects."
--Carla Gardina Pestana, University of California, Los Angeles

"An account both theoretically sophisticated and attentive to detail and context. Every historical archaeologist must read and digest this book; Horning tells us not just about Ireland and Virginia, but instructs us in how we should practice a more sensitive and nuanced historical archaeology."
--Matthew H. Johnson, Northwestern University

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