Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Archaeology 360: Grianán of Aileach, Inishowen, Donegal

In 2020 the question ‘Where did you go on holiday?’ is a more potentially loaded one than I’ve ever known before. Back in February and March we had plans! Oh such plans! They involved airplanes and international travel, but they were not to be. Along came Covid-19 and all hope of such distant delights seemed to evaporate and vanish like a haze on a misty morning – or some other dollop of purple prose. We had the time to take and desire to get away from home, so we hunted around for a place to stay with access to good beaches and cool archaeology. That’s why we set forth across the border for the distant delights of Donegal. It might not come as a huge surprise to learn that I brought the 360-degree camera along for the trip and that the following series of posts all concern our family’s adventures in that gorgeous, beautiful county.

 

Our first stop on our trip was to see the magnificent Grianán of Aileach. In all my years in archaeology, I’d never managed to get to get to see it … wanted to … meant to … hoped to … didn’t … so here was my chance! I’ll not lie to you … after having built this site up in my mind for so long, I did rather worry that the imagined expectation might not live up to the real-world actuality. I need not have fretted! The site is superb, and the views are breathtaking. The Wikipedia article [here] notes that 'The main structure is a stone ringfort, thought to have been built by the Northern Uí Néill, in the sixth or seventh century CE; although there is evidence that the site had been in use before the fort was built. It has been identified as the seat of the Kingdom of Ailech and one of the royal sites of Gaelic Ireland.', before going on to draw out some of the complexities of the site’s history, morphology, and interpretation. It’s well worth a read to get some context for this remarkable place.

 

I cannot urge you enough to go see it for yourself, but in the meantime, please enjoy this immersive 360-degree video of the site and its surroundings.

 

 

You can view it on an ordinary browser, but for best results we recommend the immersive experience that comes with an Oculus/Google Cardboard headset. Please feel free to Like and Share the video and Subscribe to the Archaeology 360 channel. If you’re feeling peculiarly generous and wish to help purchase snacks to sustain the Chapples Minor in the field, please drop something in the Tip Jar on the top right of this page.

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Co Kilkenny: Archaeological Objects at The British Museum

The British Museum holds five items identified as coming from Co Kilkenny, along with one item located to either Longford or Kilkenny. The majority of these (3) are assigned to the Early Medieval period, followed by the Early Bronze Age (2). The six items are all different object types. Only two material types are represented in this assemblage: Metal (5) and Glass (1).


Bronze Age: Metal item
Clonea
socketed axe
WG.1574
Copper alloy socketed axe; cast. Oval mouth with bevelled rim. Loop is set at base of the collar and its ends extend onto body. Cutting edge is moderately expanded but blunt.


Early Bronze Age: Metal items
Gowran
flat axe
WG.1529
Copper-alloy flat axe; with a thin, slightly rounded butt.

Castlecomer
halberd
WG.1597
Copper alloy halberd, asymmetrical blade with rounded hafting plate and straight, rounded midrib. Three rivet holes with two rivets in situ.


Early Medieval: Glass item
Kells
bracelet
18920421.150
Glass, fragment of bracelet with two lines of white dots between three lines of white spirals, all on blue ground.
5thC-11thC (?)


Early Medieval: Metal item
Kilkenny
plaque
19830701.100
Square open-work brass plaque depicting the Crucifixion: Christ flanked by Longinus, Stephaton and angels. Pierced with two rivets, for mounting to another object
11thC-12thC


The following item is listed in the museum catalogue as coming from either Longford or Kilkenny:
Early Medieval: Metal item
Longford/Kells, Co Kilkenny
mount
19231110.200
Gilt copper alloy cruciform mount; four animals around centre square setting; animal head flanked by interlace at top and bottom; mask on right.
8thC-9thC



Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Archaeology 360: The Giant's Ring, Co. Down

I was going to post something completely different today. I had it all set up & all I had to do was hit ‘publish’, but I wandered on to Twitter and saw a tweet from UCD's Steve Davis (@AerialAndBugs) about a one-star Tripadvisor review of The Giant’s Ring, Co. Down.



Back in July 2015 user ‘mark r’ wrote a review under the title ‘Giants ring..Giant let Down’:

“what an embarrassment .i wouldn't bring any one here to see these 5 boulders in a field .that you cant find anyway .someone has taken all the signs away. good on them ..a really Boring place to see .apparently the rocks are a memorial to the dead.you will probably want to join them when you see them .sorry but its pants” [sic.]

Link to Tripadvisor [here]

My first instinct was to disagree with this awful review (and many commenting on Steve’s Tweet did exactly this). My second reaction was ‘Nobody mentioned the fact that the carpark there is a gay pick-up area?’ Indeed, once I had a look at Tripadvisor it became clear that the other three 1-star reviews all relate to that theme. I’ve nothing against how any consenting adults wish to find a modicum of physical happiness in this cruel world, but, personally, I have a one-penis-per-bed rule and I prefer that to be mine. I discovered the non-archaeological reputation of The Giant’s Ring in 1999 when I had a wonderful job as Site Supervisor working on Barrie Hartwell’s excavation of Ballynahatty 5, in the next field over. It remains one of my best and happiest memories in my entire archaeological career – the weather was gorgeous, I was working with dedicated, enthusiastic (read: naive) students, and the pay … oh, the pay was brilliant! It was at university rates & so much better than what I was getting working for a commercial company. How good was it? Well – it was so good I was able to go out and buy a mid-range VCR from Argos and still have money for the rest of the week. I haven’t even plugged it in in years, but I still have it. My kids discovered it in the back of a cupboard a while back and regarded it as some form of ancient, alien creation for a dark time before touch screens and digital downloads.

On your average morning the team congregated at the Archaeology Department at Queen’s and were loaded into two minibuses and driven the few miles to the site. One morning, part way through the season, Barrie came to me and explained that we had a new addition to our group. After all these years I can’t remember her name, but let’s call her Rebecca. However, on that first morning Rebecca would not be able to make it to the Archaeology Department in time to meet the bus. Instead, her dad was going to drive her to near the site – not at the site … but near. Rather than negotiate the tangle of back roads to get to the site entrance, it was agreed that Rebecca would arrive to the carpark at The Giant’s Ring and that someone would meet her and guide her across the field to an exciting day of excavation. Turns out that person was me. Sometime around 09:30 on a bright, late summer’s morning at the end of the last century the keen observer could have spotted me making my way across the freshly manured stubbled fields of Ballynahatty in the direction of the Giant’s ring carpark. From our vantage point at the excavation, we were well aware that the great earthwork and megalithic tomb were a much-frequented exercise and area for both dogs and their owners. However, on clambering over the fence, I was surprised to see that the carpark had quite so many cars. I was more shocked the several of these cars appeared to be occupied and by (exclusively) men who seemed more dressed for a business meeting than anything else. I wasn’t sure if Rebecca had already arrived, so I attempted to scan the faces in the cars for any clue as I stood there looking stately and heroic (these are my own rose-tinted memories, so believe me - stately and heroic I most certainly was!). After a short while I noticed that the occupant of one car appeared to be beckoning me over. Feeling foolish that I’d not spotted them earlier, I ambled over to the car and was (again) surprised that while there may have been ‘dad’ there was no ‘Rebecca’ in evidence. As the window rolled down, and definitely confused at this point, I spluttered out: ‘Er … are you Rebecca’s Dad’. I am now of the opinion that the middle-aged gentleman in search of affection seated in that car was probably as confused as I was with that question, but gamely decided to buy into whatever fantasy I was proposing. Unfortunately, his answer of ‘Sure, if you want it like that. I can be ‘Rebecca’s Daddy’’ did not bring the clarity I desperately needed to the situation. It was right about then that the real Rebecca hoved into view, being chauffeured by her real and actual father. After a few questions to confirm identity (I do try not to make the same mistake twice in one day!), I took the young student back across the heavily manured field and into the care of our excavation director. Later, when I related my story to Barrie, he looked at me wide-eyed and said ‘Oh, I thought you knew’. His good-natured laughter at my discomfit still rings in my ears!

Anyway, a few weeks ago I was back to The Gaint’s Ring with my 360 Degree camera perched atop my trusty bicycle helmet to record some immersive videos of the site for your enjoyment and delectation. I hope you enjoy the experience and are reminded how gorgeous the site is or, perhaps, why you should come visit in person. If meeting people for anonymous gay sex in carparks is your thing, it seems that there’s still a thriving, if discreet, trade available (as it were). However, the archaeological site is well worth the visit and certainly worth more than a single-star review!

 

 

You can view it on an ordinary browser, but for best results we recommend the immersive experience that comes with an Oculus/Google Cardboard headset. Please feel free to Like and Share the video and Subscribe to the Archaeology 360 channel. If you’re feeling peculiarly generous and wish to help purchase snacks to sustain the Chapples Minor in the field, please drop something in the Tip Jar on the top right of this page.

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Archaeology 360: Grey Abbey, Cistercian monastery, Co. Down

Let’s be honest, folks – there are a lot of bad things happening in the world right now … pretty much wherever you are, politics is a roaring dumpster fire of awfulness … we’ve got universities that protect plagiarists on their staff (I see you UCL!) … Keepers of Antiquities that believe private citizens can be ordered about like medieval serfs and claim that you’re an embezzler for expecting something so outlandish as being paid for undertaking work (waves at Maeve Sikora!) … and then there’s the pandemic … it’s all just so depressingly awful.

But do you know what’s brilliant?

Piggy Back Rides!

Sure, they don’t solve any of the above problems, but they are great. That feeling of being carried about is reassuring and throws us back to memories or fantasies of happy, carefree childhoods. How could you improve on all the great things that are encapsulated in the simple joys of the piggy back ride? How about this: a piggy back ride through a great archaeological site!

And that is exactly what we’re going to provide today! (For a given value of both ‘exactly’ and ‘provide’). Yes, from the comfort of your own home and internet connection you too can have a virtual piggy back ride through the ruins of the Cistercian foundation at Grey Abbey, Co. Down. For an account of a Chapple visit to the site in 2014 and a brief account of the site’s history, please see [here].

This spectacular feat of cinematography was achieved through the simple expedient of bolting my trusty 360 degree camera to the top of a bicycle helmet using some fittings for an old GoPro camera. Just stick my Oscar for Innovations in the field of Cinematography in the post, care of Castle Chapple! Unfortunately, the rain came down before I could complete a similar walk-through of the remarkable graveyard beside the Abbey, but we hope to be back again soon.

You can view it on an ordinary browser, but for best results we recommend the immersive experience that comes with an Oculus/Google Cardboard headset. Please feel free to Like and Share the video and Subscribe to the Archaeology 360 channel. If you’re feeling peculiarly generous and wish to help purchase snacks to sustain the Chapples Minor in the field, please drop something in the Tip Jar on the top right of this page.

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Co Carlow: Archaeological Objects at The British Museum

The British Museum holds 10 items identified as coming from Co Carlow. The majority of these (10) are assigned to the Bronze Age. The most common object type represented are vases (3). The material types represented in this assemblage are Pottery (4), along with Stone, Bone, and Metal (2 each).



Neolithic/Bronze Age: Bone item
Ballon Hill, tumulus
pin
19201109.470
Bone pin fragment; looped head of pin; loop worn through; decorated


Neolithic/Bronze Age: Stone item
Ballon Hill
end scraper
19201109.140
Stone end scraper.


Neolithic (?)/Bronze Age (?)/Iron Age (?): Stone item
Ardristan quarry, 2 miles from Ballon Hill
bead
19201109.290
Stone bead (decorated).


Bronze Age: Bone item
Possibly from Ballon Hill cemetery
human cremation
19201109.1b
[as 19201109.1a]


Bronze Age: Metal items
River Barrow
sword
18470113.100
Copper alloy sword handle and blade portion, four rivets in situ. Tang missing. The butt has four rivets one of which retains a rivet stump. Slight ricasso present. The blade is a pointed oval in cross-section and has a ridge parallel to the edges which have suffered some damage. The blade has been broken, apparently in fairly recent times. The surface of the blade is reasonably smooth.

Nurney
socketed axe
WG.1567
Copper alloy socketed axe; cast. Mouth is oval, with bevelled and uneven rim. Loop is set at base of collar, ends extend a little on to body.


Bronze Age: Pottery items
Possibly from Ballon Hill cemetery
bowl
19201109.1a
Pottery tripartite bowl (variant) with incised lines on the rim bevel and broad shallow incised lines on the exterior. Incised or impressed short lines occur just below the rim and on two horizontal ribs. Cremation in a bag mixed with pot sherds.

Ballon Hill, barrow cemetery
vase
19201109.200
Pottery bipartite vase, decorated with chevrons and hatched triangles incised on upper part.

Ballon Hill, barrow cemetery
vase
19201109.300
Pottery bipartite vase with drum-shaped base; restored. Elaborately decorated all over with incised lines, herringbones and lattices.

Ballon Hill, barrow cemetery
vase
19201109.400
Miniature pottery bipartite vase with five lugs at unequal intervals on the shoulder, outside ornamented with incised looped lines, some hatched.

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Archaeology 360: Tullynakill Church, Co. Down

Those of you following our Archaeology 360 video series will know that we first visited the early medieval site at Nendrum [here] and, rather predictably, followed it up with a visit to Mahee Castle [here], just a couple of hundred meters away. For the concluding part of this trilogy (for a trilogy it is!), we visited the slightly less well-known church site at Tullynakill, Co. Down.

 

Tullynakill, although not nearly as well known, is part of the Nendrum story as it took over the former's role of parish church by the late 15th century. While the standing structure is of this date, to a century later, the decorated stonework is all of 17th century manufacture.

 

This is not the first time the Chapples Minor have visited Tullynakill! We were last here in 2015 where I took photographs and they played hide-and-seek [here]. Indeed, the Chapples Minor declared that of all the sites we visited that day, it was the best, but mostly because of the hide-and-seek experience.

 

You can view it on an ordinary browser, but for best results we recommend the immersive experience that comes with an Oculus/Google Cardboard headset. Please feel free to Like and Share the video and Subscribe to the Archaeology 360 channel. If you’re feeling peculiarly generous and wish to help purchase snacks to sustain the Chapples Minor in the field, please drop something in the Tip Jar on the top right of this page.


Friday, July 17, 2020

Archaeology 360: Mahee Castle, Co. Down

It should come as no surprise that if our first Archaeology 360 video was to be about Nendrum, the next would be about the delightful ruin of Mahee Castle, just a few hundred metres from the monastic site. I’ve written before about Mahee Castle and even created some 3D images of the site. Rather than paraphrase all that again, allow me to direct you to the original blog posts [here | 3D photos].

     

Rather than being a conventional archaeological tour of the site, consider this immersive 360 video to be just as much about an open-eyed meditation on the place – a mindfulness experience, if you will. Look at the ruin, but also listen to the winds blow, the birds sing, and the leaves gently flutter on the breeze. 

You can view it on an ordinary browser, but for best results we recommend the immersive experience that comes with an Oculus/Google Cardboard headset. Please feel free to 
Like and Share the video and Subscribe to the Archaeology 360 channel. If you’re feeling peculiarly generous and wish to help purchase snacks to sustain the Chapples Minor in the field, please drop something in the Tip Jar on the top right of this page.

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Archaeology 360: Early Medieval ecclesiastical site, Nendrum, Co. Down

I know this blog has been quiet for a while. The realities of the Covid-19 lockdown meant I ended up focusing more on other priorities for a while. When the restrictions in Northern Ireland eased slightly and we were allowed to invite other people to come sit in our garden we invited a couple of our neighbours around for gin and elderflower champagne. In the course of a delightful evening the conversation turned to things of a tech nature and a revelation was made – our neighbours had a lovely Oculus Go headset that they didn’t use and wondered if the Chapples Minor would care for it? Never being known to look a gift horse in the mouth, I enthusiastically agreed. I had to bide my time until the children got over their first flurry of fervour and I got a look in. When I did, I was struck by a number of things, not the least of which is that I’m terrified of rollercoasters, both real and digital! It further reaffirmed my belief in the work of trailblazers such as Howard Goldbaum’s Voices from the Dawn and affiliated projects which skilfully blend historical research with stunning 360° immersive visuals. However, other then Howard’s work there is not much to find in terms of archaeology-themed 360 videos (Colleen Morgan’s blog post on the topic being a notable exception). Rather than curse the darkness, it’s better to light a candle, so I found an older model Gear 360 camera for a reasonable price and (after some help getting the software to work – you know who you are & I thank you from the bottom of my heart!) I started to make some short test videos. After this little practice I felt ready to take on an actual archaeological project and over two days the Chapples Minor and I completed a number of filming projects. Today, we’d like to unveil the first of these – a 360 video tour of the Early Medieval ecclesiastical site at Nendrum, Co. Down [Wiki] and a dedicated Archaeology 360 YouTube channel [here].

You can view it on an ordinary browser, but for best results we recommend the immersive experience that comes with an Oculus/Google Cardboard headset. Please feel free to Like and Share the video and Subscribe to the Archaeology 360 channel. If you’re feeling peculiarly generous and wish to help purchase snacks to sustain the Chapples Minor in the field, please drop something in the Tip Jar on the top right of this page.


Tuesday, April 14, 2020

The Library is Open! Helping students of Irish Archaeology during the Covid-19 Pandemic



It’s week four of social isolation and I think that many people are getting used to this ‘new normal’. Personally, I’ve found it, by turns, difficult living without so much social interaction and remarkably appealing. Some months ago I decided to work my way through all 1228 movies that appear in all editions of the book ‘1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die’. This now seems like a well-reasoned and socially responsible plan, and not the descent into madness it may have at first seemed to those closest to me. While my first priority has been to keep my family safe, I’ve been trying to do what I can for others too … which brings me to the subject of today’s post!

Browsing Twitter last night, I saw a thread regarding the additional difficulties faced by PhD students and Postdoctoral Fellows in Irish universities owing to the current pandemic. It appears that some PhD students (those funded through RCUK) at UK universities have been granted an additional six months of funded research time to complete their research (see: here). As yet, the same sort of support has not been extended to Irish universities. Although I can’t influence that decision, it did make me wonder what assistance I could offer to students of Irish archaeology. Which is how I came up with this:

Although it’s slightly out of date, I’ve made the catalogue of my personal library available as a Google doc. If I’ve managed the permissions correctly, you’ll be able to read it, but not edit here:


It’s not exhaustive and it’s understandably tailored towards my personal interests, but If you don’t have a copy of your own & you need a reference checked up or a few pages copied, please send me a message on social media & I’ll do my best to help you out.

Twitter: @RMChapple

Please feel free to share this post with anyone who may be able to benefit.

Otherwise, please stay indoors & keep safe.

Robert

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Co Dublin: Archaeological Objects at The British Museum

The British Museum holds 32 items identified as coming from Co Dublin. The majority of these (17) are assigned to the Medieval period, followed by the Early Medieval (7) and Late Medieval (4) periods. The most common object type represented are jugs (10) and pitchers (6), followed by pins (4) and floor-tiles (3). Only three material types are represented in this assemblage: Pottery (20), Metal (11), and Amber (1).


Neolithic (?)/Bronze Age (?)/Iron Age (?): Amber item
Kilmainham
bead
18880719.122
Amber globular bead.


Bronze Age: Metal item
Dublin
spear-head
18750401.440
Copper alloy socketed spear-head, pegged.


Late Bronze Age: Metal item
Contarf
penannular ring
18490301.180
Gold small penannular ring with external longitudinal striations on the body. The terminals are decorated with three lightly incised horizontal lines and finish in pointed ends.
1150BC-750BC (circa)


Early Medieval: Metal items
Dublin (City)
crozier
18540307.400
Copper alloy crozier socket with alternate plain and interlace panels; sub-rectangular panels of animals round top, two scrolls.
8thC-9thC

Dublin (City)
pin
18680709.390
Brass wheel headed pin; flat circular head, pierced in centre; shank of oval section.
8thC-9thC

Dublin (City)
pin
18680709.370
Leaded brass mushroom-headed pin with ribbed sub-biconical head; shank of circular section.
5thC-10thC

Dublin (City)
pin
18680709.360
Bronze triskele-headed pin; vertical incised lines at neck; shank of oval section.
6thC-7thC

Dublin (City)
pin
18680709.380
Leaded gun metal pin with rounded head decorated with incised lines radiating from centre; shank of oval section.
5thC-10thC

Phoenix Park
book-cover
18540307.300
Gilt copper alloy book-mount, sub-triangular, decorated with 2 confronted interlaced animals with gaping jaws and scrolled hips.
8thC

Thomas Street,St Johns Abbey
shrine; figurine
18680709.520
Copper alloy gilt ecclesiastical figurine, with hands raised; robes with incised and relief panels, pierced for attachment to shrine?
12thC(early)


Viking: Metal item
Phoenix Park, grave
oval brooch
18540307.100
Copper alloy oval brooch with part of one long side missing; four diamond-shaped fields, of which two with masks, two with ribbon design.
9thC


Medieval: Metal item
Dublin (City)
bowl
AF.3042
Silver bowl; shallow rounded cup on conical foot with beaded band; engraved line near rim inside, outside and around foot; inside: circular medallion containing engraved monster/wyvern. Made in England.
13thC


Medieval: Pottery items
Dublin (City)
jug
19701205.305
Pottery jug (fragment).

Dublin (City)
jug
19701205.306
Pottery jug (fragment).

Dublin (City)
jug
19701205.303
Pottery jug (fragment).

Dublin (City)
jug
19701205.302
Pottery jug (fragment).

Dublin (City)
jug
19701205.297
Pottery jug (fragment); green glaze & vertical grooves.

Dublin (City)
jug
19701205.301
Pottery jug (fragment); base.

Dublin (City)
jug
19701205.299
Pottery jug (fragment); green glaze.

Dublin (City)
jug
19701205.304
Pottery jug (fragment); yellow to olive green glaze.

Dublin (City)
jug
19701205.300
Pottery jug(fragment); base; patchy green glaze.

Dublin (City)
jug
19701205.298
Pottery jug(fragment); green glaze.

High Street
pitcher
19701205.307
Pottery pitcher(fragment); from base, smoke-blackened.

High Street
pitcher
19701205.309
Pottery pitcher(fragment); rim and neck, green glaze. French import.

High Street
pitcher
19701205.311
Pottery pitcher(fragment); body sherd, green glaze both sides. French import.

High Street
pitcher
19701205.308
Pottery pitcher(fragment); rim and neck, green glaze with deep groove. French import.

High Street
pitcher
19701205.312
Pottery pitcher(fragment); body sherd, green glaze. French import.

High Street
pitcher
19701205.310
Pottery pitcher(fragment); body sherd, green glaze. French import.


Late Medieval: Pottery items
Christ Church Cathedral
tile
18990306.100
Tile; earthenware; slightly concave brickware with white glaze and radiating shapes in brown, green and yellow. Made in: Spain (southern)
15thC-16thC

St Mary's Abbey, abbey chapter house
floor-tile
19470505.1326
Earthenware floor tile, lead-glazed; grotesque.
14thC-15thC

St Patrick's Cathedral
floor-tile
18870307.11097
Earthenware floor tile, lead-glazed.
14thC-15thC

St Patrick's Cathedral
floor-tile
18870307.111
Earthenware floor tile, lead-glazed.
14thC-15thC