Archaeology Above & Below 2013
We have a world class line-up planned for 2013, year of the Gathering Ireland.
The Rathcroghan Conference will run from Friday 12th of April, through Saturday 13th April, and finish on Sunday 14th April, in Tulsk, Co. Roscommon, Ireland.
The Rathcroghan Conference will run from Friday 12th of April, through Saturday 13th April, and finish on Sunday 14th April, in Tulsk, Co. Roscommon, Ireland.
Dr. Benjamin Hazard
"Florence Conry, c.1560-1629, native of the villa of Figh, civil parish of Tibohine, barony of Frenchpark, Co. Roscommon"
Research Fellow - School of History UCC.
Florence Conry (Flaithrí Ó Maoil Chonaire) was a key political and religious figure in early-modern Irish history. His family, the Uí Mhaoil Chonaire, were regarded as custodians of the literary landscape in Connacht. Documentary sources tells us much about their involvement in the professional disciplines of history, law and poetry. Until recently, it has been assumed that Conry was born at Cluain na Oidhche, the Uí Mhaoil Chonaire family seat in Connacht. This paper will examine evidence which reveals his birthplace to be the townland of Figh, civil parish of Tibohine, in the barony of Frenchpark. It provides a description of the townland’s medieval history, extant features of the landscape, and an explanation for the connection between Figh and Florence Conry in the late sixteenth century.
Dr. Niall Brady
Dr. Brady was project director for The Medieval Rural Settlement Project and headed up the extensive excavations at Tulsk for the Discovery programme which was highlighted in the DP Monograph 7
The Medieval Rural Settlement Project (MRSP) commenced in 2002 to consider the nature of the archaeological landscape associated with rural Ireland in the period c. 1100-1650 AD. The Project has four principal modules, each of which will result in a significant monograph publication. The modules were chosen to represent a cross-section of the diverse cultural landscape that is embodied in later medieval Ireland. The first module considers the lands around Dublin city, the country’s medieval capital. In what is essentially a desk-based study, the ‘Dublin region’ module seeks to identify the primary land-holding structure and land-use as defined by a combination of surviving documentary sources and available archaeological evidence. It is aimed at assessing the nature of the archaeological record that has been generated in recent decades by extensive excavation activity. The Dublin module is to be published shortly as the Project’s first monograph.
The second module is a detailed study of an Anglo-Norman manor in Co. Carlow, where the relatively simple techniques of field-walking and geophysical survey, combined with an analysis of surviving manorial accounts, are providing a rich insight to the manor’s demesne and associated areas.
The bulk of the Project’s resources have however been devoted to the study of the O’Conor lordship in Co. Roscommon, as a case-study that examines the origins and development of a Gaelic lordship in this period. Two levels of enquiry are being pursued: field reconnaissance coupled with ortho-imaging, geophysical survey and micro-excavation and environmental sampling is providing a highly defined insight to the wider landscape of the lordship area; while excavation has been conducted on the site of one of the lordly centres in Tulsk. Each of these components will be the subject of a separate monograph.
From Crúachan to Findabair Cúalnge and back: the Study of Toponymy and Route in Táin Bó Cúailnge
Paul Gosling, Dept. of Heritage & Tourism, Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology.
One of the most salient facets of Táin Bó Cúailnge is its topographical content. For instance, Cecile O’Rahilly’s edition of Recension I of the epic (1976) contains 376 entries in the ‘Index of Places, Peoples, Rivers’. Yet the study of its placenames, and the so-called ‘route of the Táin’ derived from them, has been intermittent and uneven. This presentation will review the history of research into the toponymic aspects of the epic focusing inter alia on the work of John Crowe, Eleanor Hull, Mary Hutton, Thomas Gogarty, Thomas Shaw, Thomas Kinsella and Gene Haley.
Paul Gosling lectures on Built Heritage in the Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology. His research interests are focused principally on archaeological survey and his published work includes reports and papers on the field monuments of Galway and Clare Island, Co. Mayo, as well as the archaeology of a number of towns. His research on the toponymic aspects of the Táin is being published as a series of papers in the County Louth Archaeological & Historical Journal.
Ogham stones of Ireland
UCC - (PhD Candidate)
Ogham stones are the only record of the earliest form of the Irish language and constitute a valuable asset in the quest to increase our knowledge of early medieval Ireland. The dearth of archaeological evidence with which to date ogham stones has hampered advancement in this area. However, recent linguistic analysis of the ogham inscriptions by Damian McManus has determined phases in the development of the inscriptions and this has radically affected the timeline perception of ogham.
By utilizing these changes in linguistic form and their relative dates, it is now possible to distinguish ogham stones belonging to different phases of the language and the time periods in which they were erected. However, the only archaeological studies relating these relative dates to the distribution of ogham stones that have been published to date are Moore 1998 and Swift 1997. By utilizing the results of the linguistic analysis, the pattern of ogham stone dispersal throughout Cork in time and space will be determined. This exercise will enable the examination of changing distribution patterns in Cork against the background of early Christianity. This project will be the first time that the linguistic and archaeological evidence will be fully integrated and utilized to its full potential.
LiDAR Analysis and Early Medieval Settlement in Counties Roscommon and Leitrim
Traces of early medieval settlement can be found throughout the Irish landscape, most commonly in the form of ringforts, crannógs and ecclesiastical sites. The remains of such monuments are often visible to the naked eye and can be recognised and recorded without the aid of advanced aerial reconnaissance or geophysical survey. However, with the application of LiDAR data in archaeological research, it has been possible to identify ‘new’ sites and monuments, thus potentially challenging our perception and understanding of the Irish early medieval settlement landscape. During the summer of 2012, a LiDAR-based study of early medieval settlement in Roscommon and Leitrim was undertaken as part of an MA thesis which sought to establish a more comprehensive picture of settlement during the period. Measuring approximately 140km², the study area straddles the River Shannon, encompassing parts of counties Roscommon and Leitrim. With over 400 previously recorded (potential) early medieval sites listed on the Sites and Monuments Record, the study area clearly already contains substantial evidence of early medieval settlement, yet analysis of the LiDAR dataset revealed more than 100 ‘new’ potential early medieval monuments. This paper will present and discuss the findings and their implications, with emphasis on the organisation and density of early medieval settlement in the region.
Brian has been continuing his work at Rathcroghan over the last while will expand on his findings and work due to carried out before the conference.
Brian Shanahan is a NUI Galway Hardiman Scholar undertaking PhD research on landscape
archaeology with a particular focus on County Roscommon. He was Assistant Director of the
Discovery Programme’s Medieval Rural Settlement Project between 2003-2011 during which time he
led excavations and surveys of many sites in County Roscommon including Relignaree.
2012 - Conference
Audio of Talk
Eamonn (Ned) Kelly
'Irish Iron Age Bog Bodies Kingship and Sacrifice'
Keeper of Antiquities - National Museum of Ireland.
Eamonn Kelly joined the Museum in 1975 and is the Keeper of the Irish Antiquities division. He is responsible for the Irish archaeological; Egyptian; Classical and Ethnographical Collections. His qualifications include a BA and MA, and prior to his appointment in the Museum he worked as a commercial archaeologist.
He is a member of the Royal Irish Academy National Committee for Archaeology. His research interests include Iron Age studies; Viking Age rural settlement; and aspects of prehistoric and medieval art.
He has written extensively on diverse aspects of Irish archaeology and developed a new theory to explain the phenomena of Irish Iron Age bog bodies, which inspired the exhibition Kingship and Sacrifice.
Prof. Muris O'Suilleabhain
Excavations in Co. Louth at the with stong connections to the Táin.
Prof. O'Suilleabhain is currently Associate Professor of Archaeology and former Head of the UCD School of Archaeology (2004-2008). He served as Chair of the BA Programme Board (2005-2007) and Director of the UCD International Summer School (1999-2002). He currently serves on the Academic Council Executive Committee (ACEC), the Academic Council Committee on Quality (ACCQ) and the University Undergraduate Programme Board (UUPB), and he chair's the Oversight Committee of the Humanities Institute.
Prehistoric art and ritual form the specialisation on which my international reputation is built and I have published extensively in this area, dealing with some of the more iconic complexes of prehistoric Ireland, notably the great passage tombs in the Boyne Valley and on the Loughcrew hills. I am particularly associated with a more isolated site at Knockroe in county Kilkenny. Other major interests include Irish archaeology in modern society and the state of the national archaeological resource.
Discovery Programme (Acting CEO)
Anthony graduated in Geology & Physical Geography BSc (Hons.) from The University of Edinburgh, Scotland in 1997. Following this he obtained an MSc in Geographic Information Science from The University of Edinburgh in 1999, researching the predictive modelling of burst water mains in conjunction with United Utilities. In 2005 he was elected a full member of the Institute of Irish Surveyors and am a member of IRLOGI (Irish Organisation for Geographical Information).
Anthony has worked for the Royal Commission of the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland (RCAHMS) where he was GIS technician for the First Edition Survey Project (FESP).
He began work with the Discovery Programme in January 2001 as GIS/IT Manager where he have extend and improved the impact GIS has to make on many of the disciplines within archaeological research.
Anthony will deliver a talk on the work of the Discovery Programme who are at the forefront on innovative research in Irish Archaeology. Discovery Programme (Acting CEO).
Kevin Barton & Dr. Ralf Hesse
Kevin Barton, Landscape & Geophysical Services
Ralf Hesse, State Office for Cultural Heritage
Rathcroghan Mound, some 85m in diameter, up to 7m in height with a 360m diameter outer enclosure was subject to intensive, multi-method remote sensing surveys in the 1990’s. The Mound is the focus of a complex of monuments and is commonly ascribed to being Bronze/ Iron Age in date. There is no excavation or dating evidence from the Mound or its immediate environs.
The geology and geomorphology of the area is dominated by karstified Carboniferous limestone bedrock with superimposed glacial moraines. In this landscape, interpretation of geophysical anomalies from surveys of largely earthen monuments such as Rathcroghan.
Mound faces a number challenges. Are the anomalies, especially those with a low topographic profile, due to archaeology, geology, topographic effects, a combination of sources or is it not possible to determine the source? Arising from the surveys in the 1990’s there remain a number of unanswered questions relating to the construction, internal structure and function of the Mound and distribution of surrounding pits.
One tempting and somewhat controversial question arises from evidence in the geophysical results for a horizontal surface associated with a resistive ‘hard’ core
within the Mound. Presently it cannot be determined if these anomalies are due to the Mound being founded/sculpted on a moraine or possibly be due to a passageway and/or chamber. If the latter were true, this would date the monument to the Neolithic which would challenge the accepted Bronze/Iron Age interpretation of the Mound and its landscape in this currently unexcavated area. Airborne LiDAR data collected during a test survey by Ordnance Survey Ireland
has 'breathed new life’ into the interpretation of Rathcroghan Mound and other monuments in the Complex. These data have been integrated with legacy oblique and vertical aerial photographs and multi-method geophysical survey to address some of the unanswered
questions. Multiple visualization techniques were used to test their suitability for detection of different archaeological features. The availability of LiDAR-derived very high resolution topographic models at a local and landscape scale now makes it possible to consider the use
of microgravity in investigating the internal structure of the Mound.
Movement and thresholds: architecture and landscape at the Carrowkeel Passage Tomb Complex, Co. Sligo.
Sam is a PhD Student, National University of Ireland, Galway; Assistant Lecturer in Applied Archaeology, Institute of Technology, Sligo.
The Carrowkeel Passage Tomb complex has elements of architectural design and landscape settings that possess concepts of crossing physical and symbolic thresholds. The positioning of passage tombs on mountain tops, prominent ridges or locations overlooking important river systems (that would have had to be crossed) all appear to be deliberate acts by the Neolithic builders. Features common to many passage tomb clusters include relationships with water that may suggest movement along, or movement across; as well as monuments located in elevated positions that contain architectural devices controlling movement. Likewise, many later-prehistoric developed ritual sites, such as at the Hill of Tara and Rathcroaghan, seem to have enclosing elements that act as symbolic and physical thresholds.
This paper intends to examine concepts of crossing liminal zones in the Irish Passage Tomb Tradition and at a variety of other ritual sites.
The Hill of Ward, Co. Meath: A multi-period archaeological complex
The Hill of Ward, Co. Meath (Tlachtga) was, according to Keating, the religious centre of pre-Christian Ireland, and represented one of the four foundation sites of the kingdom of Mide, along with Tara, Uisneach and Teiltun. The hill is topped by a massive, quadrivallate earthwork, 130m in diameter with a relatively small, 45m central space. Unlike the other three foundation sites of Mide, Tlachtga did not, until recently, appear to have stood as part of a major archaeological complex, rather as a site in relative isolation. In 2010 an area of lidar data was obtained, centred on the hill, with the aim of investigating this apparent lack of associated features. This led to the identification of a number of new archaeological sites, including a pair of parallel enclosing banks around part of the hilltop, an embanked enclosure (presumably late Neolithic), a bowl barrow, at least two deserted settlements and a number of possible ringforts. In summer 2011 this initial phase was followed by geophysical survey over significant parts of the site, including the earthwork of Tlachtga itself, the embanked enclosure and Wardstown deserted settlement. These surveys have idenfitied a hitherto unidentified level of complexity to the site. The earthwork of Tlachtga as it currently stands partially overlies a much larger, earlier multi-vallate enclosure and is itself cut by a small plectrum-shaped enclosure to the south. Evidence of in situ rebuilding of the current structure is also present, with suggestions of an entranceway to the east. These newly discovered features will be discussed in the context of other comparable sites both in Ireland and elsewhere.