An abiding “solastalgia” for the lost springs of her native Florida, and interests in Irish archaeology, saint cults and early medieval history, have inspired Ray in two decades of research on holy wells and sacred springs in every county on the island of Ireland, across Europe, and in Southern Appalachia. Her bachelor’s in Anthropology at the University of Florida was punctuated with terms in Ireland, Italy and Austria where she has returned for research throughout her career. Ray’s master’s degree in Cultural Resource Management at the University of Edinburgh focused on Scottish battlefields and national identity. Her Ph.D. studies in archaeology and Historical Ecology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill liberated her from a fascination with Iron Age hill forts and culminated in a cultural dissertation on Scottish Americans. Her research now considers holy wells and their associated sacred landscapes as sites of biocultural heritage and how cultural perceptions of water’s sacrality can foster socio-ecological resilience in the twenty-first century.
Areas of Research / Professional Expertise
Water, Blue Humanities, Anthropology of Religion, Ethnicity