Thomas Finan is Associate Professor in the Department of History at Saint Louis University. His research interests are focussed on medieval Ireland, castles in medieval Europe, medieval archaeology and digital applications to the study of history and archaeology.

His 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. He has been director of the North Roscommon Archaeological Project, an ongoing archaeological survey and excavation focussing on the medieval lordship of Moylurg.  He also conducts research in a number of related 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 he has been an invited delegate of the Chateau Gaillard International Castle Studies Conference. All presentations at the conferences are published in the conference proceedings. In 2019 Finan was selected as the first American member of the Comite Permanent of Chateau Gaillard.

He is also active in the American Society of Irish Medieval Studies (ASIMS), which along with the Center for International Studies and the Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies at SLU, sponsored a major conference in October, 2008, “Beyond Saints and Scholars: Irish Medieval Studies in the 21st Century.”  

He is a member of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland and a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London.

Dr. Finan also conducts research on the history and archaeology of St. Louis, and will be beginning a research project investigating the Civil War forts of Missouri in 2019.


Thomas Finan teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in the Department of History at Saint Louis University. At the undergraduate level he has taught the Department survey course “Origins of the Modern World” and also courses related to medieval history including courses on castles, medieval archaeology, and medieval Ireland. He has also taught the department methods and capstone courses.

At the graduate level Finan teaches courses on Medieval Ireland, Medieval British Isles within the context of the Angevin and Plantagenet Empires, Medieval Castles, and Medieval Archaeology. He has also taught courses related to spatial analysis and history, qualitative history, and digital history.

Finan advises a number of doctoral students in the field of medieval history. If you are interested in applying to our doctoral program at Saint Louis University do not hesitate to contact Dr. Finan about his areas of expertise.


Most articles are available at my academia.edu page: https://slu.academia.edu/ThomasFinan


Interim Report on the 2019 Excavations on the Rock of Lough Key, 19E0348 (submitted in partial fulfillment of licensing requirement of the Department of Culture, Heritage and Gaeltach, Republic of Ireland)

“Living in Medieval Gaelic Castles.” Coloque International de Chateau Thierry 29 (Forthcoming, 2020).

“The Market Town at Medieval Lough Key.” Medieval Irish Towns in Light of Recent Excavations, (Forthcoming, 2020).

The Lost Artifacts of the Saint Louis University Grand Hall Museum:  A Digital Humanities Reconstruction

Fourche ‘a Renault Archaeological Survey

The Irish Genealogies:  A Digital Humanities Project, website with Dr Meg Smith


The Fiantinator: Applying Digital Humanities to the Fiants of the Gaelic Lords


“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 (2018).

With Kieran O’Conor, “Medieval Roscommon.” Roscommon:  History and Society, Geography Press, 2018.

“MacDermot Identity in the Thirteenth Century.” in Fitzpatrick and Horn, Becoming and Belonging in Medieval Ireland, UCC Press, Cork, 2018.

The Camp Jackson Archaeological Survey at Saint Louis University

The Walter J. Ong, SJ 1929 Scout Jamboree Archive, co directed with Karl O’Brien


The King’s Cantreds:  Politics, Ethnicity and Identity on the Thirteenth Century Irish Frontier. Turnhout: Brepols, 2017.

The McElwee Cemetery Survey and Research Project (website in collaboration with the Ong Center for Digital Humanities, Saint Louis University)


“Interim Report, The Rockingham Moated Site, Rockingham, County Roscommon (16E0366),” with Alan Hayden, submitted in fulfillment of Licensed Excavation in the Republic of Ireland


The Lough Key Archaeological Survey Open Data Website


“Moated Sites in County Rocommon, Ireland:  A Statistical Approach.” Chateau Gaillard 26, Caen University Press, (May 2014).

“Hall Houses, Church, and State in Thirteenth Century Roscommon:  The Origins of the Irish Tower House.” in Oram, ed. Towers in Medieval Europe, May 2014.


The Lough Key Archaeological Survey


Archaeology, People, and Landscapes:  Essays in Honor of Jenna Higgins. St. Louis and Knockvicar: Institute of European Archaeology, 2012.

Finan, Thomas J. “3D Gaming Technology for Castle Reconstruction.” Edited by Kieran O’Conor. Chateau Gaillard, Colloque Rindern 25, Caen University Press (September 2012): 171–76.

“The Lost Church at Kilteasheen, Co Roscommon.” In Sean Duffy, ed. Princes, Prelates and Poets in Medieval Ireland:  Essays in Honour of Katharine Simms, Four Courts Press, Dublin, 2012.


Finan, Thomas J., Jason M. Organ, and Fiona Beglane. “Bioarchaeology of a Medieval Irish Ecclesiastical Settlement.” American Journal of Physical Anthropology 52, no. Spring (2011): 135.

Finan, Thomas J. “Violence in Medieval Ireland.” Edited by Niall Brady. Eolas:  The Journal of the American Society of Irish Medieval Studies 4 (May 2011).


“O’Conor Grand Strategy and the Connacht Chronicle in the Thirteenth Century.” Edited by Thomas J. Finan. Medieval Lough Ce:  History, Archaeology and Landscape, Four Courts Press, 2010.

Finan, Thomas J. “The Hall House at Kilteasheen, Co Roscommon, Ireland.” Chateau Gaillard:  Etudes de Castellogie Medievale, 24, Coloque International de Stirling 24 Caen University Press (September 2010).


Medieval Lough Cé:  History, Archaeology, and Landscape. Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2009.


“The Bardic Search for God:  Vernacular Theology in Medieval Gaelic Ireland, 1200-1400.” Eolas:  The Journal of the American Society of Irish Medieval Studies 2 (2007).


A Nation in Medieval Ireland?  Perspectives on Gaelic National Identity, 1200-1400. Oxford: British Archaeological Reports, Archaeopress, 2004.


With Kieran O’Conor, “The Moated Site at Cloonfree,” Journal of the Galway Archaeological and Historical Society, Vol 54 (2002).

“Prophecies of the Expected Deliverer in Bardic Poetry,” New Hibernia Review, Volume 6:3 (2002), 113-124.



Thomas Finan has appeared in a number of media outlets including local television and radio. He is always available to discuss his research or topics of interest such as the medieval world, castles, medieval Ireland, and medieval archaeology. He has appeared on KSDK, KWMU, and RTE-Ireland.

He was the focus of an HECTV documentary titled True Gaelic: Uncovering Medieval Ireland in 2018. Information about the video is at:


Finan contributed to several episodes of the popular History Channel series Clash of the Gods, including the episodes on Beowulf, Thor, and JRR Tolkien.

Finan narrated a course on castles for The Modern Scholar audio courses titled Citadels of Power: Castles in History and Archaeology


Finan is the director of a number of ongoing research projects. His main research on the medieval MacDermot lordship of Moylurg near Lough Key, County Roscommon Ireland. He has conducted extensive field survey of the medieval monuments around the southern shore of the lake, and in 2016 conducted excavations with Jimmy Schryver of the University of Minnesota Morris at the Rockingham Moated Site. Recent excavations have investigated the Rock of Lough Key, the island stronghold of the MacDermot kings of medieval Ireland.

Finan has directed numerous archaeological projects in Ireland and the United States. From 2004-09 he co-directed the Kilteasheen Archaeological Project with Christopher Read of IT-Sligo. He frequently conducts excavations around the Saint Louis University campus, including notable excavations near Adorjan Hall and Beracha Hall and more recently at the Camp Jackson Civil War site.

He is the former Director of the Walter J. One, S.J. Center for Digital Humanities at Saint Louis University and in that capacity has received major research funding to support the development of digital tools to enhance research in the humanities. He is presently working with a group of undergraduate students on a digital history capstone course investigating a nineteenth century cemetery in Pike County Missouri called McElwee Cemetery.


Thomas Finan

Department of History

3800 Lindell Blvd.

St. Louis, MO 63108