Full details here.
The Institute of Archaeologists of Ireland has announced a photography competition open to both members and non-members. They are looking for photographs that best capture "Ireland's Archaeology" and will be giving Heritage Cards, which allow free admission to OPW-run heritage sites in Ireland for a year, to two winners, as well as featuring twelve photographs on their website.
Full details here.
The School of Archaeology in UCD has recently inaugurated the UCD Experimental Archaeology and Ancient Technologies Centre at Roebuck, on the UCD Campus. This is a space where UCD Health and Safety has allowed burning, smashing and smelting of anything and everything, all for the glory of archaeology!
One of the project going on in the experimental centre involves the production and firing of replica prehistoric and medieval pots. This work has been reported on through the UCD Early Medieval and Viking Age Research Group (EMVARG) Facebook page and on the School's Facebook page but I thought the material would be of interest to a wider audience.
The photos above show the collection of clay and sand/gravel for the production of pots as well as a few of the pots produced for the first experimental firing in the centre. The video below shows the recovery of souterrain ware from a kiln following an initial firing.
The experimental work described here ties in with an undergraduate module in experimental archaeology being offered at UCD. More work is planned over the summer and I'll hopefully be able to keep updating the blog with more photos and info. Thanks to Dr. Aidan O'Sullivan for giving me permission to publish this material!
Its not long since Google Streetview went live in Ireland, and we had a quick look at a few of the archaeological sites it allows the more rain-averse archaeological enthusiasts to peruse, but Google shows no sign of stopping there. Besides adding significantly to their detailed satellite imagery of Ireland, they have also sent their Streetview trike to a number of major tourist attractions, including a fair few old ones, around Ireland to give us a trikes-eye view.
I haven't gone through the full list but a quick look at the Rock of Cashel and Dublin Castle shows the potential, particularly handy if you can't get to a particular site and you need to check architectural features, something about its landscape setting, or you just fancy a goo.
Check after the break for the full list of Irish sites added to Streetview.
Phase 1 (After O'Kelly 1952)
Ballyvourney or Baile Bhuirne is a small village in Co. Cork that shelters a locally famous pilgrimage named after a supposed sixth-century Abbess: St. Gobnet. Gobnet, who may have been the brother of a more senior contemporary saint, Abban is generally depicted with a bee-hive, a reference to a story in which she defended herself and her followers from a group of raiders through prayer and the judicious application of bee stings!
In the early fifties it was decided by the people of Ballyvourney that a statue of St Gobnet should be erected close to the location of a holy well and a circular stone structure known as St Gobnet's House or Kitchen and long supposed to be the foundations of a round tower. During construction of the statue a crucible was found and it was decided that M.J. O'Kelly from University College Cork (excavator of Newgrange) should be invited to carry out an archaeological excavation.
Phase 2 (After O'Kelly 1952)
The excavation revealed extensive remains of post-holes, pits and drains with a first phase of un-enclosed activity with a few possible rectangular post-built structures. the second phase saw the raising of the ground level and construction of a large circular stone structure (St Gobnet's House) with a central post-hole. A well was also dug in front of the entrance. The second phase produced a large amount of slag, pits and a hearth indicating extensive ironworking, probably mainly smithing but possibly also smelting. Artefacts discovered on the site indicate an Early Medieval date (c. 400 A.D. - 1100 A.D.) but no radiocarbon dates are available.
Elswhere on the site a mound called St Gobnet's Grave may be prehistoric and is associated with a number of Bullaun Stones, artefacts I have suggested elsewhere may be related to ironworking. This potential link with a deeper, pagan past combined with the unusual evidence for ironworking on the site of a community of female ascetics has made me wonder more than once if St Gobnet may be connected with previous traditions of worship of the Celtic smith-god Gobniu?
Close by St Gobnet's Grave, is a graveyard with an intact protestant church and a ruined Medieval chapel which has seen some serious (and worrying) alterations since O'Kelly's excavations including the addition of a PVC conservatory on one side and a number of gawdy lights attached directly to the walls of the Nave and chancel. The site continues to this day as a place of pilgrimage with offerings still being left at St Gobnet's Grave and House. A new tradition of rubbing crude cross shapes into stones on the site could be seen as 'vandalism' but i prefer to look at it as a sign of a living site, still important to the community (and not just a handful of archaeologists). It also serves as a reminder that traditions of practice at ancient religious sites need not always reach back into the distant past, despite what we may like to imagine.
I was at the UCD Images of Research awards last night and was lucky enough to come away with two runner-up prizes. I'm chuffed to even get a mention considering the quality of the entries (you can check out all my entries here). I've used one of my runner-up pics as the new blog header (I will be adding new headers over time as the mood takes me) and the other winner can be found in the gallery above. Its called 'Igniting the gases'. There are a couple of other archaeology-related images in the exhibition, including a few rare photos of glass beads from the Bronze Age hillfort at Rathgall, Co. Wicklow.
Readers might be interested in DIG, an exhibition showing photos and drawings from archaeological excavations in Smithfield, Dublin. Its showing at The Complex, 18-21 Smithfield Square. Its an interesting idea and I'll definitely be popping in. I might include it in my Culture Night itinerary when the exhibition stays open until 10pm.
Flicking through my photographic archive of generally forgettable snaps I came across a batch from my Masters fieldwork on Lambay Island, off the coast of Dublin. I spent a week on the Island surveying the flint resources on its beaches for my thesis and along the way got to visit the Lutyens-designed castle (no photos unfortunately!) and catch a glimpse of some of the wildlife.
Lambay is home to lots of wild birds, rabbits, deer, seals and, a little unexpectedly, a flock? of wallabies. These furry creatures are surprisingly difficult to spot despite the fact they are clearly a little out of place on an Irish off-shore island.
I had to wait until my last day of fieldwork to spot them and only managed to get one shot
Wallabus Hibernicus Lambayicus
before they hopped it. You can see the shot above and a close up to the right.
Obviously this post hasn't been strictly archaeological thus far so I've attached a few more-or-less archaeo/landscapy shots from my Lambay trip. For the record my hair has subsequently been shorn and I'm an awful lot less scruffy now. Most of the time anyhow..
My work on Lambay was published with Gabriel Cooney this year in the Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy.
I just submitted a few photos to the UCD Images of research competition and thought I'd share them along with the waffly blurbs I had to make up for them. feel free to laugh, I did.
Here are a few photos from a recent trip to Skellig Michael for reader's delectation. If you're not sure what/where Skellig Michael is have a look here, and some might be interested in the draft management plan here or the tourist information leaflet, which has good a good map of the island here.
The trip was very pleasant and included an excellent talk by the guide at the top who's name escapes me. There seemed to be some excavation work going on while I was there but I'm not sure what exactly they're digging/conserving.
Anyone looking for copies of any of the photos can get some from the Seandalaiocht flickr page or contact me for full resolution images.
I spent yesterday researching and organising things for Smelt 2010 which is fast creeping up on me. One of the fancy things I'd like to do for the smelt is some time-lapse photography so I devoted a bit of time to figuring out how my still relatively new digital slr works; familiarising myself a bit more with terms like apeture, shutter-speed and ISO. The result is a test video of me working for a couple of hours in my little home office:
It reveals a weird tendency to play with my beard (shared by all bearded men i'd imagine) and a dangerous sedentism that reminds me how much exercise I don't do.
Besides that, preparations are coming along and the Smelt will go ahead on the 6th and 7th of March. The one big thing I need to sort out is a bellows system, which I will make if need s be but I would be more than happy to borrow if someone would like to donate!
For people who would like to come to see the smelt (taking place in the Irish National Heritage Park in Co. Wexford) the schedule will hopefully run as follows:
Friday 5th - I'll be there prepping and setting up the smelting area and probably starting construction of the furnace
Saturday 6th - Completion of furnace and pre-firing with wood. Ore preparation and roasting.
Sunday 7th - The smelt (volunteers needed!)
Monday 8th - Clean up
All are welcome to come but if you can't make it I will be putting up videos and images from the smelt on the project's website.