2010 Field Season – Black Friary Day 33-37 (23-27 Aug-10)

Blog by Gabrielle Gill, Wagner University, New York, USA

Donal the hard taskmaster barks the orders

The last week of the Blackfriary dig started off quite dismal, Monday was spent indoors catching up on data entry and cleaning and sorting finds.  Tuesday morning was equally rainy at first, and when it stopped we made a break for the site. Little did we know someone had visited our precious site over the weekend. When we arrived all of the red fencing and orange netting, as well as the posts holding them up had been ripped up and thrown in. It was truly upsetting. But in the mist, quietly we all started putting our site back together.  

Fin and the gang pause to take stock


After that Ciaran and Peter worked extending the North edge of the cutting just in front of F3, attempting to find an end point or perhaps more face stones. Rachel (our new representative from Canada, eh) and I worked at trying to find face stones on the north side of the F21, while also exposing the back of F20.           

On Wednesday Donal joined us for the morning and we all continued with our tasks at hand, and Peter created a cutting at the base of F24 in an effort to see if it was just more rubble below, or more substantial masonry. Rachel and I mattocked and shovelled away, after ripping up moss of a previously exposed portion of collapsed masonry and disturbing some unfriendly Irish ants. In our area we found some teeth, various animal bone, medieval pottery, and an interesting diamond shaped bit of plaster covered stone which may be part of some kind of mosaic.

Thursday, being field trip day, got us off to an early start (after a late night for some) en route to Dublin to hear some NRA (National Roads Authority as opposed to Rifle Association!) lectures. Before that however we headed off to the National Museum of Ireland where we heard a very lively lecture on sheela na-gighs. At the NRA lectures we were able to see others present their excavations and the portion we were there for was themed on death and burials, including pathology and looking at the evidence different diseases leaves on bones and what that means about the population in discussion. My favourite part was the emphasis on asking why instead of what. At the end of the conference we made our way to the barracks and saw a wonderful exhibit on high crosses, one which we had seen on our field trip last week. After a tiring, yet educational day, we went home- and stopped to visit Tara and Bective Abbey so that Rachel could see.

Today was our last day on site and as fate would have it this is when we started finding all the good stuff! It started with Peter finding a portion of beautiful moulding, with a slight angle confirming the arch theory, as well as two pieces of medieval glass. Then, on the south side of F12 Rachel and I had made a cutting to see if the drainage system seen from the top corner extended all the way through- that way we could tell if it was all one continuous piece of masonry. In the cutting I found a piece of painted plaster, of which about 65 abbeys in Ireland had, but it is definitely a sign of status. Finally, Ciaran found a knife with two rounded knobs at the end of the handle! While I am writing this I am sure Rachel has found something spectacular, however in the case that she hasn’t I would like to state that “I couldn’ta done it withoutchya ;).”

It is sad that these four weeks have flown by already, but I have learned so much and met so many great people. I want to give a hugggee thank you to Fin for everything she has done for us, she is so knowledgeable incredibly kind and always good for a laugh. I couldn’t have asked for a better program director. J Thank you to everyone who made this possible and to everyone that participated! I don’t know how this ended up like a way too long Academy Awards speech, but ‘til next year!


About Irish Archaeology Field School

The Irish Archaeology Field School (IAFS) is Ireland’s leading provider of university accredited, site based archaeological research and training. Our archaeological and heritage programs include research projects in a number of locations in Ireland, including in Co. Wexford and Co. Offaly (with satellite schools frequently undertaken elsewhere). We provide credited and uncredited programs (and internships) for novice and experienced students, and also specialise in the preparation of purpose-built faculty led programs incorporating excavation, historical research, remote sensing, non-invasive survey, ground investigation, landscape assessment etc. Whilst our programs are excavation-centered and aimed primarily at students of archaeology, anthropology and history, courses are open to all, and are guaranteed to give you an enriching and thoroughly worthwhile study abroad adventure.
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