Friday, July 8, 2011

International Archaeological Field School 2009

Students worked at a number of different graveyards, learning to decipher inscriptions, take measurements and fill in coded sheets, do rubbings of stones to assist reading texts and to record designs, take photographs of monuments, and sue survey equipment to produce a measured plan of a graveyard. The students from the Field School and from the University of Liverpool worked hard to work at five different burial grounds, ranging in size from 40 to 250 monuments.

Group photo

The research plan for this season was to complete work in County Louth begun in 2008 so that a suitable sample size of northern Louth stones could be compared with those already collected to the south of the county. The remaining surveys were in south County Monaghan, to provide contrasting data sets from those already obtained at Clones and Killeevan, County Monaghan and Aghalurcher, Co. Fermanagh. They will allow further investigation of the relationships between Protestant planter families and the indigenous Catholic population.

The first graveyard visited in 2009 was Knockbridge, Co. Louth; a notable feature of this graveyard was the presence of several early 20th-century memorials with a strong Irish nationalist iconography and texts that gave the deceased’s association with the republican mobvement.

Two burial grounds are located in Inishkeen, County Monaghan, both very well kept. The old graveyard, around the 19th-century Gothic revival Protestant church, contained inscribed and uninscribed monuments. The new graveyard surrounded an 18th-century rendered church now converted into the Kavanagh visitor centre, though the graveyard is still in use. Monuments to 1919 were recorded, with a few selected later memorials.

Of particular interest was a headstone to the Mullan family that was re-erected whilst the survey was going on. Members of the family were very co-operative in explaining what they had done in what is an interesting example of contemporary graveyard practice in Ireland. The original limestone headstone, erected by Hugh and Paudge Mullan in memory of their father Thomas, who died in 1842, was a typical shape for the time, with a lightly incised radiate IHS in the centre and two cherubs carved in deep false relief, one either side.

For more interesting topics related to archaeology, visit archaeology excavations.

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