‘Above & below: the archaeology of roads and light rail‘ under the editorship of Michael Stanley is a new publication by Transport Infrastructure Ireland to be launched on 28th August. This book contains a paper I wrote entitled ‘Carrickmines Castle: a modern perspective on medieval fortifications“. Continue reading
Archaeological Impact Assessments normally form part of a submission for planning permission and are undertaken to determine the potential for archaeological remains in an area. Assessments include desktop research, a site visit, an examination of any visible features and the production of a report which describes the archaeological potential of the site, and the potential impact (or lack thereof) of a proposed development on archaeological heritage. The purpose of the report is to allow the relevant authorities to make an informed decision on each individual development proposal.
In the case of sites which contain a ruined archaeological monuments, the impact assessment is slightly different as it involves the study of the ruined building or structure, and is sometimes called a historic building assessment. Continue reading
Farnaught Lime Kiln is possibly the most ornate and well-designed lime kilns in Ireland. In a period when most lime kilns consisted of an open-topped chamber built into the side of a hill, Farnaght kiln is an architectural exemplar within a model estate demense, concealing the kiln within a well-built T-shaped house.
Lime kilns were one of the commonest structures found in the Irish countryside from the medieval period to the mid-twentieth century. Most lime kilns were normally simple structures dug into rising ground with a charging hole above to load stone and fuel, and a draw-hole below to extract quicklime. Farnaught Lime Kiln is exceptional, concealing a brick-lined continuous draw kiln within a well-built stone house forming part of the model Lough Rynn estate of William Sydney Clements, the 3rd Earl of Leitrim.
Discovering Historic Fingal a Guide to the Study of Monuments, Historic Buildings and Landscapes was commissioned in Summer 2006 by Fingal County Council, in association with The Heritage Council, as an action of the Fingal Heritage Plan 2005-2010. The purpose of the guide is to provide a practical, comprehensive and user-friendly reference book to all available archaeological and architectural source material for Fingal. The concept of an area of “Fingal” begins in the early medieval period, with the land known as Fine Gall or “territory of the strangers” referring to establishment of Viking settlers. The guide is intended for a wide range of users, including the general public, professional users, those in formal education at all levels, policy and decision makers, and the wider archaeological and architectural communities.
The guide introduces the essential source material for researching the built heritage of the county including textual information, maps, photographs, illustrations, models and artefact repositories. In order to provide the necessary context, researchers are also guided towards national repositories and general sources of Irish archaeological, architectural and art historical source material which may be relevant. The guide is not intended as an exhaustive work or a bibliography, but is instead intended as a practical reference book to guide researchers to where useful information can be found.
New researchers should approach the information contained in both primary and secondary sources with a degree of caution, and develop an understanding of “source criticism”, or the strengths and weaknesses of historical material. Historical sources are not infallible, are unlikely to be wholly accurate or truthful, and researchers assessing the significance and value of source material would be wise to be aware of Continue reading
Sweat houses are one of the smaller field monuments surviving in the Irish landscape. The origins of sweathouses are unclear, but they function in the same manner as Scandinavian saunas. This project involved study of thirty sweathouses in County Leitrim to consider their significance, vulnerability, what repairs they might need, and how they could be interpreted and appreciated.
Straddling Sliabh an Iarainn in County Leitrim and scattered through the surrounding landscape are small almost invisible testaments to the past. Marked on old maps, and with most already lost, sweathouses, or “teach alluis”, are found from Rathlin Island off the north coast of Ireland to south Cork, with examples in Derry, Tyrone, Sligo, Longford, Louth, Roscommon, Galway, Tipperary, Waterford and Wicklow. However, the largest concentration of sweathouses are found in an area comprising modern Leitrim, Cavan and Fermanagh.
Sweathouses were used for the treatment for a wide range of ailments up to the late 19th and early 20th centuries, primarily rheumatism but also including sciatica, lameness, sore eyes, gout, skin disorders, psychiatric disorders, impotence and infertility. Surviving records indicate that treatment was Continue reading
Halloween, the night of Samhain when the boundaries between life and death become blurred, is an evening now associated with bonfires, costumes and trick-or-treating, but reflective of the rich tradition of beliefs, traditions and folklore which once permeated the Irish landscape. The dark shadows flittering across ruined buildings and monuments have attracted their fair share of ghost stories and macabre tales. Though this should come as no surprise in a land with stories of a blood-sucking dwarf vampire buried headfirst beneath a boulder, men who become wolves, monsters in lakes, dragons in the sky, sidhe, grogochs, pechts, leprechauns, cluricauns, banshees and sheela-na-gigs. In the spirit of the season, I offer a few tales of ghosts and goblins from monuments I’ve worked on: Continue reading
This week I am presenting a paper on the conservation of fortifications at the International Conference on Fortified Heritage: Management and Sustainable Development from 15-17 October 2014 in Pamplona. The conference acts as a forum for debate and information exchange on the preservation of fortifications and the opportunities defensive structures offer to transform spaces and drive both economic and recreational activity.
The presentation and discussion of case studies from Europe, Latin America, Asia and North America allows attendees to consider different approaches to both conservation and development and the commonalities faced with the conservation of military heritage (buildings, landscapes, urban fabric etc) in the different regions and countries. Defensive structures are much more than simply a memorial or cultural reference point in our everyday experience, and much of the conference was devoted to sharing international experiences in transforming and adapting defensive structures and complexes to new sustainable and innovative uses. Continue reading
Historic graveyards provide us with landscapes of cultural, historic and natural interest, and often remain in use. Irish historic graveyards may contain a wide range of monuments such as headstones, ledger slabs, box tomb chests, allegorical sculpture and mausoleums. Many graveyards are also archaeological monuments, retaining much earlier burials and structures and so require special consideration and consents for necessary repair and conservation works.
Deterioration and weathering are inevitable parts of the history of a monument, and the principles and techniques Continue reading
The publication of the Dalkey Islands Conservation Plan 2014-2024 was launched in Dalkey Castle by the Cathaoirleach Cllr Carrie Smyth on Tuesday 3rd June 2014 in Dalkey Castle. The conservation plan is used to guide the management of the Dalkey Islands and its significant ecological, archaeological, architectural and cultural heritage. The islands contain evidence of human settlement going back to the mesolithic period (7500-4000 BC) a promontory fort, the early medieval St. Begnet’s church, ancient crosses carved into the granite, and a Martello tower and Battery. The islands support a nationally important tern colony and other protected bird species, and a range of terrestrial and marine habitats.
In general, most authors have followed the general rule that builders from prehistory to the post-medieval period commonly used locally obtained material for general building, with more distant stone sources exploited for decorative elements. However, as covered on Saturdays lecture, in conservation practice, stone quarries form a richer and more useful resource which may add to our understanding of the significance of a site; relationships with Continue reading