Showing posts from September, 2021

Archaeology 360: Monea Castle, Co Fermanagh

Monea castle is one of Northern Ireland's iconic castles. It lies in gently undulating countryside, about 4 km to the west of Lough Erne. The major building work of the castle was carried out between 1616 and 1618. However, a Survey of 1619 noted that it was 'a strong Castle of Lime & Stone, being 54ft long & 20ft broad; but hath no Bawne unto it'. This 'Bawn', or outer defensive wall, was not completed until 1622. Its designer and first owner was Scotsman, Malcolm Hamilton, who started off as the Rector of Devenish, before being appointed Chancellor of Down in 1612. Things clearly went well for him as he was made archbishop of Cashel in 1623. But not too well, as Wikipedia records that in 1629 he 'died of an unknown infectious disease', which seems somehow unsettling ... but mostly for Malcolm! The subsequent history of the site has it passing back & forth between Irish and Colonist control for much of the 17th century. It appears to have burnt

Archaeology 360: Errigal Keerogue, Co. Tyrone

Dr Chris Lynn & Giant Pillar of Light at Errigal Keerogue, 2000 Historical sources suggest that a  St  Chiarog founded a chri stian  monastery here in the 6th century, but  there has probably a been a religious site of some description on this esporgent hill in rural Tyrone for as long as there have been humans to want religion. Today it is a quiet spot, quite a bit off the main road, dominated by the ruin of a late medieval church perched on top of the hill. Inside the church is a replica of a medieval tombstone, possibly representing a knight. However, the real treasure of this fantastic little site stands just to the west of the church building -  an unfinished High Cross of Early Medieval date.  The site describes is as having 'Short stubby arms ... slightly protruding from an unpierced ring'. In the right light you can see a set of incised lines marking a ring and concave arms on on the eastern face. On the opposite (western) face there is a low,

Archaeology 360: Killadeas, Co Fermanagh

  Killadeas is a little town in Co. Fermanagh, on the eastern shore of Lough Erne. In the little graveyard of the modern Church of Ireland church. Our little 360-degree tour starts near the large upright Early Christian Cross inscribed stone (with possible bullaun mortar holes on its the back), moves on the pillar/standing stone, past the cross-base (that looks like a large stone donut set on edge in the ground*), and onto the ‘Bishop’s Stone’. The latter has a depiction of a bishop – identified by his bell and crozier – on one broad side and a ’grotesque’ mask on a narrow side. The stone is dated to the Early Christian/Early Medieval period, around the 9th to 10th centuries. When the light is just right and the shadows fall in a particular way, the bishop appears to have a slight wistful smile and almost a twinkle in his ancient eye. I’ve visited this site on many occasions over the years and am always taken by his exquisite, pointy topped shoes. Taken together, these remnants indic

Filming & presenting an archaeological excavation: Thoughts on Must Farm

The photos and videos that came out of the excavations at Must Farm, near Peterborough in Cambridgeshire, during the most recent excavations ( 2015-16)  were some of the most exciting prehistoric images I’ve seen in years – the incredible preservation of features and artefacts stunned both professional archaeologists and the interested public alike. Those excavations uncovered the remains of several Bronze Age houses – set on stilts above the water surface - and an associated defensive palisade and walkway. The evidence indicates that the site was destroyed in a catastrophic fire and that the settlement was abandoned. Wikipedia notes of the excavation that ‘Objects recovered include pots still containing food, textiles woven from lime tree bark and other plant fibres, sections of wattle walls, and glass beads’ [ here ]. Between the BBC documentary, the innovative use of legacy and modern social media, along with a variety of engagement strategies, the operation has garnered a well dese