Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Seminar series 14/15: "Insular monasticism and Royal patronage in the Glen of Aherlow"

The next seminar will be

"Insular Monasticism and Royal Patronage in the Glen of Aherlow: Survey and Excavations at Toureen Peakaun"


Dr Tomás O'Carragain


University College Cork

Thursday 30th October 2014

Room A109, Newman Building


CLICK HERE for all seminar posters and reports. 

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Essay writing seminar and workshop !

 Dear everyone,

For the first time, the Society is hosting an essay writing seminar and workshop to help you get ready for your academic assignments. It will take place on Wednesday 22nd October in the Blue Room of the Old Student centre at 12pm and 1pm (to accommodate people who can't make either 12 or 1). This is aimed at helping you tackle both essay and exam questions. It will centre around the three core points of structure, content and style.

The first part will be a PowerPoint presentation by one of our PhD students, giving you loads of tips and advice on how to write a good essay. The second part will be a workshop where you can start thinking about one of your assignment.

If you are interested in attending this seminar+workshop, we ask you to bring an essay title you are currently working on so that you can reflect on it. You do not have to, but bear in mind this would be highly helpful for you. The chosen essay title does not need to be an archaeology one: the seminar and workshop aim at making you ready to address any essay question!

A handout with all the tips and advice contained in the seminar presentation will be provided.

Pub quiz with the Classics Society

Helloo everyone!

On Wednesday 22nd October, we will be teaming up with the merry bunch from the Classics Society for a pub quiz!It will take place up in Kielys in Mount Merrion (see map below). Teams of 5 at 1 euro per person. Be there for around 7:30pm to make your teams and get organised. The quiz will be starting at 8:00pm. Drink promotions will be available on the night along side an array of prizes that will be up for grabs.

Map to Kiely's pub

Night trip to the Samhain Festival of Fire

Copyright Joe Conlon from Friends of Tlachtga

Dear everyone,

This year the society has organised a very special trip to the Hill of Ward on the occasion of the Samhain Festival of Fire.

A bus will leave UCD on Friday 31st October at ca. 5pm inn order to be in Athboy for the torch procession at 7:30pm. The bus will then leave at ca. 10:30pm in order to be back at UCD by 1am.

The festival itself is free, so feel free to meet us in Athboy if you can get there by yourself. If you wish to get a seat on the Society bus, it will cost 5€ to be paid to Sean Kinsella at this week's coffee morning (12-3pm in the Blue Room) and next week's coffee morning. Spaces on the bus are limited so make sure you book your seat early!

For any question, please feel free to contact us

Seminar Series 2014/14 reports: "In The Plains of Mag Femen: Excavations at The Royal Fort of Rathnadrinna" By Richard O'Brien

This week, Richard O’ Brien, lead excavator at the Quadrivallete ringfort at Rathnadrinna gave a lecture titled: In The Plains of Mag Femen: Excavations at The Royal Fort of Rathnadrinna. The Rathnadrinna royal site located just outside Cashel, County Tipperary has been the location of an immensely interesting and successful archaeological project over the last five to six years. Being a Multivallete ringfort the site is considered a royal site of vital importance. However, before 2009 very little work was done on this monument. It is also important to remember to keep the Rock of Cashel in mind as it was probably closely related with this fort being a royal site itself.
As a summery, the fort ditch measures 40 meters externally and geophysics have confirmed a significant number of auxiliary forts located around the main site. While not situated as high as The Rock of Cashel it is still placed on a noticeable prominence giving an impressive view of the surrounding countryside. As of today it is still not considered a national monument but that may change once Richard publishes his report.

Following the introduction and site summery, Richard continued with a chronological description of the work undertaken at Rathnadrinna from 2009 to present. Between 2009 and 2010 geophysics were carried out on the fort and the surrounding area. These surveys yielded a significant amount of results including the aforementioned satellite forts as well as ringbarrows and a large number of pits and ditches within the fort itself. Following these the discoveries Richard received funding from the Royal Irish Academic Society for three seasons of excavation (20 weeks in total).
Excavations began on the site on June 11th 2012 however Richard told us that they were met with immediate difficulty on the first day. Due to one of the wettest summers on record the trenches were soon flooded and progress slowed significantly. Work continued regardless of this problem and once the trenches dried out enough, work resumed. Interestingly that year, pre-fort features were discovered within the fort ramparts including stakeholes and a house with a possible hearth.
Excavations continued as planned in summer, 2013 which had more focus within the fort interior and the many ditches discovered during the surveys. Cutting 2 C focused on an interesting arcing ditch and pit circle feature which was unusual thing to find within the fort itself. These features were dated to the Iron Age but respected an earlier Bronze Age ditch.

Richard then continued on to discuss the excavations carried out this year. Around twenty Early Medieval houses were uncovered with multiple overlapping wall slots and a huge amount of stakeholes and postholes within cutting 2 C. These buildings indicate the importance of this site and its continuing use over time. Meanwhile in cutting 3, a metal working area also dating to the Early Medieval period was found with cobbling and charcoal deposits.

 Richard concluded with a brief report on the material finds at the site. These included Worked wood, a copper alloy stud mount from a reliquary with gold coating, various pieces Iron and lead slag and a small number of lithics. Richard is hoping to continue work on this site for the foreseeable future and it is worth checking out. The Rathnadrinna Facebook page posts regular updates on the status of the site as well as the ongoing research associated with it.

By Emmet Fennelly

Monday, 13 October 2014

Seminar series 2014/15: "In the plains of Mag Femen: Excavations at the Royal fort of Rathnadrinna"

The next seminar will be 

"In the plains of Mag Femen: Excavations at the Royal fort of Rathnadrinna"

Richard O'Brien

Thursday 16th of October

Room A109, Newman building


Click Here For all seminar posters and reports

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Annual trip abroad: destination Madrid!

This year, the Society has chosen Madrid as its destination for the annual trip abroad! The Spanish capital is vibrant city with a rich history and the cultural highlights include the National Archaeological Museum and the stunning Catedral de la Almudena. And let's not forget the amazing Toledo !
More information to follow regarding the exact itinerary of the trip and visits to take place.

The trip will take place on the
12th- 16th January 2015

Places are limited so make sure you sign up early! You can sign up at our coffee mornings, and secure your place by paying a deposit of 20€. 

Nota bene: the deposit must be paid before 31st October. 

Each student taking part in the trip needs to book their own flights, which will be with Ryanair and cost ca. 50€ (Nota: that is without a hold luggage. A bag will cost you 15-25€ extra, each way). In addition to your initial deposit, we will ask you for a 40€ payment which will cover your accommodation and transport. 

Overall, the cost of the trip will be only ca. 110€ !

The exact flight times will be communicated once you are signed up for the trip and have paid your deposit. 

Email our trip officer Sean Kinsella (sean.kinsella@ucdconnect.ie) for any question!

Society day trip to Carlow: the details!

Dear everyone,

On Saturday the 25th of October  Saturday 15th of November, we will be heading on our first trip of the semester to  Co. Carlow. We will be stopping to see Brownes Hill in Carlow including a visit to Carlow Museum, and Carlow Castle, being accompanied by NRA Archaeologist Noel Dunne and Carlow Museum Curator Dermot Mulligan.

We will be departing UCD at 9:00 am and returning no later than 5:30pm. The price of the trip will be 3€, which can be paid at this week's coffee morning. If you are interested in coming along, please contact our trips and tours officer Sean to secure your place (sean.kinsella@ucdconnect.ie)

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Seminars 2014/15 report: "The Bective Abbey project: Survey, excavation and results"

Report by Stephen Domican:

The Bective Abbey Project: Survey, Excavation, and Results

It was a great pleasure to have Geraldine Stout of the National Monuments Service present some of the results of her research on Bective Abbey, located on the river Boyne, County Meath. This focused on not only the Medieval Cistercian abbey itself, but took a broader survey of the landscape: looking at not only the social and economic activity of the abbey itself, but also the granges that the religious order owned and that were worked by the order.

There was a particular focus on the lower, lay order of monks who conducted the general labour within the Abbey. These monks are believed to have paved the way for future agricultural developments in Ireland, such as the implementation of crop rotation systems, as well as having a lasting influence on the later development of Medieval Manor houses.
Using topographical and geophysical survey results, the decision was made to excavate in three main locations. In the lay brothers range, excavations uncovered a pit and hearth that are thought to have been the dining area for the lay monks, as well uncovering a rich assemblage of ceramic, metal and bone artifacts.

Excavations were also conducted in an area initially though to have been a Cistercian barn. However, due to the discovery of masonry pads which are believed to have been used to support a raised floor, this is now believed to have actually been used as a granary; the discovery of ploughing tools also suggesting it may haved served an additional role as a storage space for farming equipment.
Trenches were also dug in the Cistercian garden; this was found to be enclosed by a bank and ditch, the centre of which had several spade dug furrows. These furrows contained not only charcoal but also other household waste, which is believed to have been deposited in the furrows for composting. From this a rich assemblage of food remains has been analysed, including many different types of meats and seafood, such as Cod, Haddock, as well as shellfish and oysters. Analysis of these organic remains shows that the monks had a highly varied diet, with a rich variety of foods to choose from.
Economic activity cannot be analysed in isolation, and what I really enjoyed was how some of the most thorough environmental research ever conducted on Medieval Ireland – in total looking at around 47,000 archaeological plant remains – was combined with a broad analysis of both the Abbey and outer grange to deliver a snapshot of what Cistercian Abbey life was like. It was surprising to learn just how well off the monks would have been: enjoying a diet with a wide variety of grains, meat and seafood, as well as how involved the Abbey was in managing their landscape: both through the cultivation of a wide array of crops, as well as the raising of domestic animals, such as rearing lambs.

There was a real excitement from the audience, as many of them had been personally involved in the project. Both myself and the UCD archaeological society would like to wish Ms Stout all the best in her future endeavours, and would like to thank her for taking the time to present her findings.

Monday, 6 October 2014

Seminars 2014/15 report: "Death in the Scottish wars of Independence"

During our first seminar of the year Dr. Jo Buckberry of Bradford University took us back to the Scottish Wars of Independence and more specifically a building in Stirling Castle. Excavations that were carried out in 1997, of what was first believed to be the “Old Governor’s Kitchen” unearthed evidence of 9 sets of skeletal remains. The vast majority of the remains date to the Wars of Independence and show evidence of trauma. Originally there were thought to be 10 sets of remains but later analysis identified that what was believed to be two separate skeletons was one infant aged between 3-6 months. Among the 8 remaining, sex determination was predominately male and 1 female, with 2 left undermined. Analysis of the remains showed skeletal variation, evidence of both dental and skeletal diseases and signs of healed and unhealed trauma.

Dr.Buckberry began the seminar by providing a brief background into osteological study and terminology. She explained that blunt force trauma occurs when the victim is hit by an object with a large surface area for example a pavement or a club while sharp force trauma occurs when the injury is inflicted by a bladed object. If a wound is determined to have occurred ante-mortem then it was before the time of death and evidence of healing would typically be present. It can be difficult to differentiate between peri-mortem and post-mortem. Peri-mortem injuries have no evidence of healing but still retain an elastic response however post-mortem injuries show no elastic response.Bone mechanics that tell us if there is evidence of an elastic response.

The seminar continued with specific discussion concerning each set of remains. 

  • Skeleton SK199 was composed of a pair of feet therefore the sex was undetermined. It was estimated by the level of epiphyseal fusion that the remains were aged at least over the age of 13yrs. 
  • SK176 represents the remains of an infant aged between 3-6 months. Analysis provided evidence of  active rickets, identified by flared bone ends and ribs. There is evidence of possible scurvy alongside the skull. Interpretations highlight the infant was malnourished or that the mother was malnourished. 
  • SK196 is of undetermined sex with an estimated age between 16-18 years. Trauma was identified on the remains as 4 peri-mortem fractures. 
  • SK523 was identified as a male aged between 16-28 years with evidence of probable peri-mortem fractures to the lower limbs and ribs. 
  • SK190 was identified as a male aged between 16-20 years. Dental notches were present in the victim’s mouth highlighting that the victim used his mouth as a way to hold objects. Further evidence of trauma included 4-6 post cranial injuries, blunt force trauma to the right scapula and right humerus. one stab injury to the 8th rib. This latter injury was located close to the heart and the blade had been inserted horizontally. Seven or eight other fractures are present along the base of the cranium, as well as 1-3 mandibular fractures. 
  • SK148 is identified as an older male aged between 24-57 years. There is a healed sharp force injury to the frontal bone. Cysts are present above the upper incisors, these occur as a plug of soft tissue that forms when the tooth dies. Is this evidence of violence?
  • SK539 is the only female identified at Stirling aged between 29-60 years. The skeletal remains were robust and she had a cleft neural arch of C1 of the vertebrae. Evidence of cranial trauma is present in the form of 2 penetrating lesions with internal bevelling. 10 linear and curvilinear lesions were also identified. 
  • SK150 is male aged between 24-46 years. There is potentially a hundred peri- mortem fractures, 40/44 of these occurred to the cranium and less than 60 to the post cranial skeleton including rib fractures and a crushed knee. Was this the result of being crushed, tortured or a fall? Developmental conditions are evident, this man suffered from scoliosis and sacralisation. A C14 date has been obtained and the remains date between 1217 –1292 AD.
  • SK141 is male aged between 29-57 years. A radio carbon date places these remains much later than the rest, between 1442-1627 AD. 
Carbon and nitrogen isotope analysis was carried out to examine the diet of those at Stirling Castle. Results identified their diet as typical of a medieval population’s diet. The pattern of trauma amongst the remains however is not typical of the period. Evidence discovered at Towton and Fishergate Castles highlights sharp force trauma as common but at Stirling evidence of blunt force trauma is clear. Debates have discussed whether or not the remains were left here after one serious traumatic event. Was this event a siege? This hypothesis is supported by the unusual burial site location and evidence of scurvy in a number of the individuals.

By Emily Geoghegan 



Hey everyone, thanks to committee member Brandon Walsh the society hoody is back with eight available colours! They will cost just €20, come to coffee mornings to find out more and order one in your size :) 
Size measurements:
Chest (to fit) S - 34/36”, M - 38/40”, L - 42/44”, XL - 46/48”, 2XL - 50/52

Friday, 3 October 2014

BYOB Bowling Night!


Dear everyone,
On Tuesday 7th October (Next week) the Society will be heading to Stillorgan for a relaxed evening of bowling and snooker/pool in Leisureplex, with dinner in Eddie Rocket's beforehand!. 

Here is the plan for the evening:

We will be meeting outside the Newman building at 6:30pm to then catch a bus to Stillorgan and we are planning on being at Eddie Rocket's for 7pm. You can join us there if you want.

**If you are coming for dinner, please let us know so we can arrange to have enough space for everyone. You can do this by either answering the poll on the Facebook event page, or by emailing us ** 

Afterwards, we will be heading to the Leisureplex for 9pm, the time at which they allow alcohol to be brought in: you can buy alcoholic or non-alcoholic beverages in Tesco or Tesco Off-License until late. 

For any questions, please feel free to contact us

See you there!