Internship Blog Series – Summer 2018 – Week 9

In this final week intern Erin tells us about the Medieval Feast…

Week 9 – 23rd July 2018

I am sad to say this was my final week of my internship. This week the weather was much cooler and cloudy – finally some nice Irish weather!

Ashely continued her surveying this week. She surveying the site for any subsurface features such as walls or ditches. We have yet to receive any post-processing results on site, she indicated that there were some features found – more updates to come! Meanwhile, I began creating a tapestry for this summer’s archaeological dig, which was comprised of all aspects of the excavation.

On Thursday, we had a medieval feast to celebrate the end of the field school.  It was complicated to plan but was worth it in the end! Some students participated in an ethical hunting workshop and then skinned and butchered rabbits to be cooked in a Bronze Age Fulacht Fiadh and over an open fire. Other students prepared vegetable stew, salads, potatoes and desserts, all without the use of modern technology. The final group, the prep team, set up decorations, and made Viking goblets and props for a photo booth. It was a fun day and a great way to end the summer season. After the feast, some students even stayed the night in the Heritage Park’s replica ringfort!

Friday was the last day for this group of students and for the dig as a whole. We finished excavating and recording the site, covered the site with sandbags to ensure its safety, floated soil samples, and packed up the office to prepare for our move to the Birr office on Sunday.

This was my last week with the IAFS and I am now off to another field school in Spain! It has been a great summer so far and a great two months in Wexford. Thank you to all of the INHP staff, as well as Denis and Richard for a wonderful experience. Until next time!

Erin Kislan

Internship Blog Series – Summer 2018 – Week 8

Intern Aisling describes the excitement on site when a student found an unusual piece of pottery…

Week 8 – 16th July 2018

IAFS Internship Blog 2018

Monday was one of the most exciting days on site of the season. The day started like usual: digging and sieving. My job for the day was to finish removing the orange soil (F1027) from the sondage in Cutting 1, with Edgar. Just an hour or so into the day, Sloane discovered an incredible piece of pottery in Cutting 2 north. It was in the shape of either a horn or claw, with a brownish glaze on one side of the piece.  We are unsure about what it is, but will find out on Friday when Clare McCutcheon, a medieval pottery specialist, is arriving to the site. For the rest of the day, you could feel the excitement in the air! In the afternoon, we packed up our tools early and each student explained what was happening in their cuttings. Edgar and I gave a short talk about our sondage in Cutting 1, and explained what we have found and what we think it means.

IAFS Internship Blog 2018

On Tuesday, the excitement continued, as we had another exciting find in the morning. Melania Leung found what we think is a decoration piece for a horse strap, in Cutting 2 north.  Meanwhile, I was in the Cutting 1 sondage with Gigi, taking photographs and making a section drawing. After lunch we were joined by zoo-archaeologist Fiona Beglane of the Institute of Technology in Sligo. She taught us how to identify animal bones and the species and body part it belongs to. She explained which animals are common in the area – pigs, cows and goats – as well as those that aren’t as common, such as the two missing camels of Ireland! It was fantastic to participate in her workshop and learn more about the types of bones we have been finding on site.

IAFS Internship Blog 2018

On Wednesday, Ashely Green arrived to conduct GPR and EM geophysical surveys of the fortification site and the town of Carrick. While Ashely did her surveying work, the rest of the students continued in our cuttings. In the morning, Gigi and I finished our section drawing of the Cutting 1 sondage. After that, I started correcting and completing the Cutting 1 feature sheets, and then joined Cutting 2 north and helped them trowel back the section between Claire Cotter’s two trenches. At the end of the day, we packed up early to visit Jim and the birds at the falconry center next door!

IAFS Internship Blog 2018

The next day, I finished the majority of the feature sheets for Cutting 1, except for the walls, which will need further investigation. I then moved back into the Cutting 1 sondage to see if there were any other foundation stones that were not visible to us at the moment. While doing this, we found that the foundation stones were about 60cm deeper than previously believed and we found the cut that was made in order to place the wall foundation.

IAFS Internship Blog 2018

On Friday, Ashely finished her surveys at the site and moved to the town of Carrick. Meanwhile, Gwyneth and I made a profile drawing of the revetment wall in Cutting 1. In the afternoon, we all listened to Clare McCutcheon give a talk on medieval and post-medieval ceramics in Ireland. She not only showed us finds that she brought with her, but also talked about our finds, including the piece that Sloane found on Monday. She told us that it was a 13th century local pottery called an aquamanile. The piece that was found was not a claw, but rather a Fallow deer antler and would have been a part of a larger jug in the shape of the deer. She described its significance and said it was a rare find because it was made out of ceramic, instead of the usual metal.

Aisling Lacey

Internship Blog Series – Summer 2018 – Week 7

Intern Gaile had an entertaining weekend after working hard all week in a new Cutting…

Week 7 – 9th July 2018

IAFS Internship Blog 2018

This week was a lot of the same old, same old. I moved into Cutting 4, our test trench, to find the returning wall of the eastern building. The team consisted of Danni, David, and myself. When I joined them, they had already cut down through the sod and uncovered a layer of rubble but had yet to find anything.

IAFS Internship Blog 2018

Opening a new cutting consists of lots of recording, including digital, written, and drawn. Because archaeology is a destructive process, it is important for others to know exactly what you uncovered. Therefore, as we trowelled Cutting 4 this week, we took written notes on all the different layers of soil and drew plans of what the cutting looked like during different stages. We also took levels using the dumpy level in order to compare the rubble layer that we exposed to the rubble layer in Cutting 3 to see if they were at the same level. We eventually exposed what we thought was a robber’s trench from the quarry of stone in the previous centuries.

IAFS Internship Blog 2018

Despite the slow week, Danni found some interesting red clay pottery sherds. We will have to wait until next week for any answer as to what kind it is. Typically, on a site like this you can find Saintonge, a fine French pottery used for wine and oils, Leinster Cooking Ware, a coarse local ware; and English wares such as Ham Green A and B.

IAFS Internship Blog 2018

During the weekend, there were a few local festivals, including the Kilmore Seafood Festival, which we ended up going to on Saturday. The small town was filled with locals and visitors alike. The chipper was splitting at its seams because who doesn’t want some fish and chips with a refreshing glass of cider on a hot summer evening? While it’s wonderful being able to dig every day and be in my element, it’s also important to experience local culture and have a bit of fun!

Gaile Juknevicius

Internship Blog Series – Summer 2018 – Week 6

This week our intern Erin tells us about her tour of Wexford as temperatures soared in Ireland…

Week 6 – 2nd July 2018

This week marks the halfway point of my internship, and it was orientation week for the new group of IFR students. We reached record-breaking temperatures this week. I am glad for the beautiful weather but I only wish I had more water to drink!

IAFS Internship Blog 2018

On Tuesday, we listened to a lecture and took a historical tour of Wexford town, both led by Emmett Stafford, a local archaeologist. The tour of the town was beautiful, and we were able to see what remained of the original wall of medieval Wexford. He also took us to St. Patrick’s Church, Selskar Abbey, and St. John’s Graveyard. In the graveyard, he asked us to locate the remains of a medieval church, and we found a coffin, which was standing upright. It was made of stone and had three holes in the bottom,  which according to Emmett, were used as a drainage system for after the bodies decayed and returned to the earth. After the tour of Wexford town, we went to Rathmacknee Castle for a tour.

IAFS Internship Blog 2018

Emmett also taught us about the process of repairing medieval walls. One must wait until winter to scan the wall to see it clearly without all the vines and shrubbery. The next step is to remove the plants without damaging the wall. This must be done carefully because if the mortar loosens, the wall becomes weakened.

IAFS Internship Blog 2018

The next day as the students headed off to Hook Lighthouse with intern Aisling, the rest of the interns and staff stayed on site and began weeding the ferns that were growing back within the cuttings. We also did our best to weed around the tree stumps, as we cannot remove them, at risk of damaging the walls and structures within the cuttings and removing any potential evidence.

IAFS Internship Blog 2018

For the remainder of the week, I assisted Ryan, who continued his LiDAR scanning, both on site and across the road, in the hopes of scanning the “Lost Town of Carrick”.  I sketched an image of the site from across the bridge, as well as an image of what we believe the town looked like.

Next week I will be digitizing the plans of Cuttings 1 and 2 – I can’t wait to get started!

Erin Kislan

Internship Blog Series – Summer 2018 – Week 5

‘Time flies when you’re having fun’ according to intern Aisling – to find out more read below…

Week 5 – 25th June 2018

The weeks seem to be going by even more quickly. It is week three of my internship and I cannot believe it, but I guess they do say ‘time flies when you’re having fun’.

IAFS Internship Blog 2018

Last week, we began a two-week excavation program with Maynooth University. The students have been here for one week, and have completed a heap of work and took a field trip to Ferns. This week they continued their hard work and took a field trip to Hook Lighthouse.

IAFS Internship Blog 2018

On Monday, the students got a lesson on how to take levels and we continued removing topsoil from the newly re-opened Cutting 3 at the excavation site. It ended up getting so hot during the day that Clara, one of the students, hopped into the large freezer to cool herself off! On Tuesday, we continued to remove the topsoil from Cutting 3, in order to begin our plans of the cutting. By the end of the day, the majority of Cutting 3 was cleaned back and we could now see the masonry from the curtain wall and the smaller structure.

IAFS Internship Blog 2018

On Wednesday, Gaile and I spent part of the day cleaning up the wall in Cutting 3, while the other students and interns spent the day planning Cutting 3. Today was the first day that Ryan began his LiDAR survey of the site. Ryan hopes to create a digital scan of the fort and surroundings of the excavation site.

During the next day, Gaile and I began to try to reach the natural subsoil in the bank of Cutting 1. In the afternoon, Denis sent me to the library to search the microfilm for any references to the landing of the Normans in Ireland. After I left, Orla helped Gaile reach the subsoil within Cutting 1, while the other students continued to excavate Cutting 3.

IAFS Internship Blog 2018

Friday was the last day of the program for this group of students. We met at the park for the final time and received a lecture on site photography. Then, the students and interns left for Hook lighthouse, while Denis, Richard, Ryan and I stayed back at the park. I transcribed the newspaper articles that I found on the Norman landings in Ireland at the library the day before.

IAFS Internship Blog 2018

This past week was extremely rewarding for the students, staff and interns. We all accomplished an incredible amount of work and discovered some amazing finds, such as an 18thcentury coin! The week has made me even more excited for the weeks to come.

Aisling Lacey

Internship Blog Series – Summer 2018 – Week 4

IAFS internships are extremely varied so there is never a dull moment.  Read below where intern Gaile recounts the start of the first excavation this summer…

Week 4 – 18th June 2018

IAFS Internship Blog 2018

This week, new students arrived for a two-week excavation course with IAFS and thus this season’s excavation began. Our week started with a lecture of the history of Ferrycarrig and the town of Wexford. To make a long story short… Diarmait Mac Murchada, the king of Leinster in the mid twelfth-century, sought aid from King Henry II to regain control of this land. An ambitious knight, Robert Fitzstephen and the Earl of Pembroke, Strongbow took to helping Mac Murchada for the prospect of gaining land and prestige. Carrig was the area chosen by Fitzstephen to build a ringwork castle to establish his power. Even though Fitzstephen quickly lost power, his legacy lived on and so did the castle he built, until around 1324 CE when it was said to be in ruins.

IAFS Internship Blog 2018

Before any excavations could commence, there was still a lot of clearing of shrubbery that needed to be done. Clara, Maddy, Erin and I continued to clear various plants and soil from the bottom of Cutting 3 in order to expose the plastic left from Claire Cotter’s excavations in 1986-1987 before the establishment of the Irish National Heritage Park.

IAFS Internship Blog 2018

Actual excavations began on Thursday 21st June after removing several trees and bushes that had grown in the cutting. According to Claire Cotter’s drawings, she had found a curtain wall in Cutting 3, so we were interested to find it.

This week, we also continued research at the library. Our research focuses on the attitude of the Irish towards the English in 1969, on the 800th anniversary of the landing of the Anglo-Normans. I finished reading through Free Press from that year without much luck and started skimming through the Enniscorthy Echo from the same year with little results. However, our research continues and hopefully there will be more information as I read on!

Gaile Juknevicius