Why Archaeological Archives Matter: Preserving the Pieces of Our Past at the National Museum of Ireland – Archaeology

On the 2015 Day of Archaeology, I am working with the reserve archaeological collections in the Antiquities Division of the National Museum of Ireland – Archaeology as a member of the museum’s Inventory Project. This work involves the identification, organisation and documentation of a vast quantity of varied archaeological artefacts, which are mainly stored in wooden drawers in the basement storage area below our exhibition space – an area commonly known to us as ‘the crypt’.

The storage crypt of the National Museum of Ireland - Archaeology

The storage crypt of the National Museum of Ireland – Archaeology

We document the collections from the crypt by the process of each team member working on one drawer of material at a time. Any individual drawer can contain a varied and eclectic mix of artefacts, often unrelated by chronology or provenance, with sometimes the only shared connection being that they were acquired or accessioned by the museum in the same year. Following the post theme of “Why Archaeological Archives Matter” suggested to us members of the Society for Museum Archaeology, I decided to share my work with the museum reserve collections in order to discuss this subject.

Artefact storage drawers in the crypt of the National Museum of Ireland - Archaeology

Artefact storage drawers in the crypt of the National Museum of Ireland – Archaeology

Of the last few drawers that I have documented, the artefacts have ranged widely in type and age, with some recent examples including Neolithic pottery, a bronze spearhead, a stone spindle whorl, a copper alloy seal matrix, a clay pipe stem, and some post-medieval glass and pottery sherds.

A sample artefact drawer from the reserve collections

A sample artefact drawer from the reserve collections

The museum’s reserve collections may often be mistakenly underestimated in value by the public due to the fact that they consist of objects which are not on permanent view in the exhibition galleries, but the worth and importance of these collections cannot be overstated. The placement of objects in the reserve collections can often be due to their inability to match the themes displayed in the institution’s current exhibitions, or simply due the lack of space to display such an enormous number of artefacts. A number of unusual and unique artefacts from the reserve collections have been re-discovered and re-assessed during the work of the Inventory Project, a number of which have been detailed on our Documentation Discoveries blog.

The museum reserve collections span all archaeological chronologies and typologies, and offer a physical timeline of the development of material culture, seen within the changes and advances of material choices and the design of objects. As an example, seeing a flint javelin head, a bronze spearhead, and a collection of musket balls all in the same storage drawer clearly shows some of the development in weaponry throughout thousands of years of the human past.

A sample artefact drawer from the reserve collections

A sample artefact drawer from the reserve collections

A large section of the reserve collections consists of domestic material uncovered during archaeological site excavation – items such as pottery sherds, samples of shellfish and butchered animal bone, and waste material from craft and industry. While perhaps not aesthetically arresting or unique, objects such as glass sherds, clay pipe stems and metal slag samples offer us valuable and extensive information on everyday life and practices in both the near and distant past. The reserve collections also offer an extensive base for archaeological researchers and students to study specific artefact types or groups, or the complete physical results of an archaeological excavation.

A sample artefact drawer from the reserve collections

A sample artefact drawer from the reserve collections

The artefacts hold further valuable information in their detailed documentation in the museum’s paper and digital records, which can consist of topographical files, accession registers, object archives and collection databases. These sources record important supplementary information relating to the object provenance, find circumstances, typology, associations and acquisition – all of which provide researchers with an improved and necessary understanding of the full story in the life of the artefact. Overall, the archaeological archives of the museum reserve collection are held in trust for a number of reasons – for conservation and security, for potential future display, as well as for their use as a research base for the future. Work with these collections constantly educates me on our sizeable and impressive national material culture, and the continual need to conserve and collect these important pieces of our past.



Finds from Home

Coming from Ireland but working in England I particularly enjoy when finds have a connection with home. Liverpool and Dublin have always had strong links and it should be of no surprise then when objects are handed in for recording on which have been found in the North West and have strong Irish parallels or links.

Tonight I’ve been working on an object which I recorded recently, a rare socketed heeled sickle of Iron Age date, LVPL-23E5CF. The sickle is in three pieces and has been irregularly broken during antiquity. On one face of the object the heal, in line with the socket, is decorated with a squirly circlet decoration. When researching the sickle I found that it is the only socketed example currently on the PAS database. Immediately I contacted my fellow FLOs Peter and Dot who have an interest in the late Bronze Age and early Iron Age. They directed me a similar example in Norwich County Museum which may have been created in the same mould. Then during the course of her research Dot spotted another parallel illustrated on p.14 of P.W Joyce, A Reading book in Irish History. Eager to find out more I emailed the National Museum of Ireland who got back to me straight away with a bit more information about their object. The Irish sickle was discovered in Westmeath and catalogued by William Wilde.

Early Iron Age sickle

Early Iron Age sickle

A spectacular find now in the Museum of Liverpool is the Huxley Hoard, LVPL-C63F8A. A hoard of silver bracelets with flat, punch-decorated bands belong to a well-known Hiberno-Scandinavian type found distributed in areas around both sides of the Irish Sea and produced in Ireland during the second half of the 9th and first half of the 10th centuries. The hoard like that from Cuerdale was probably part of a war chest belonging to the Vikings driven from Dublin by the Irish to settle in the Wirral, Lancashire and Cumbria at the beginning of the 10th century.

The Huxley Hoard

The Huxley Hoard

This mount from Doddington, Cheshire East LVPL-D35B84 is another great example of Irish metalworking and the decoration can be compared to mounts from the ‘near Navan’ hoard for which an eighth-ninth century date was suggested. Again probably brought to England due to Viking activity.

Early Medieval Mount

Early Medieval Mount

Another Irish vessel mount is LVPL1646 recorded in 2000. The stylised staring face and the lavish use of enamel are features characteristic of eighth-century Irish decorative metalwork. Similar anthropomorphic mounts have also been found on Irish bowls and buckets in Norway. As well as vessels, Irish mounts and fittings traveled with the Vikings as loot or traded goods, or possibly as gifts and dowry pieces. While often of no value as bullion, they were appreciated for their decoration, bright gilding and enamel.

Hanging bowl mount

Hanging bowl mount

Objects connect us with people and places and figuring out their stories is a great way to connect us to the past and for me, to home.

God Amend Thee, Sinner…

Most years so far the Day of Archaeology has coincided with the closing down of the west of Ireland, and in particular, Galway City and County. We’re in the middle of Festival Season with the Galway International Arts Festival just finishing and the Galway Races about to start.

Galway journalist, and ‘demonstrably the best rock ‘n’ roll interviewer in the world’, Olaf Tyaransen describes the feeling of all Galwegians well in a recent article:

“Everything being a constant carnival, there is no carnival left” – Victor Hugo

No sooner has the Arts Festival ended than the Galway Races begin. All bets are off with this one. It’s like a mad race to the bottom. The city becomes a giant vomitorium, you can’t get a seat in a restaurant (not even Supermacs), and the hospital emergency rooms – or rather room – jam up with weeping women in silly hats who’ve slipped on their impractical stilettos.

After the Races:

There’s the Tuam Arts Festival, the Roundstone Summer Fest, the Clarenbridge Oyster Festival, the Ballinasloe Horse Fair, Clifden Arts Week, and many more besides. Even the Aran Islands aren’t safe.

They have Tedfest. But that would be an ecumenical matter.

So, put simply, we’re in wind down at Moore Group. Most of us are getting away from the madness for the week. We’ll be taking ourselves away somewhere quiet and pleasant, where the noise of the helicopters and the chatter of the elites over their oysters and Guinness is a distant hum and a distant memory.

The Day of Archaeology therefore, revolves around tidying up all the outstanding jobs. Finishing and editing reports, getting out the all important invoices, chasing people for money, and by day’s end popping open a well deserved bottle of craft beer and leaving it all behind.

Beside me, my colleague Billy has been doing a bit of detective work – completing an assessment of a proposed development in a townland called ‘Goddamendy’.

He’s been investigating the origin of the townland name, which sometimes reveals clues as to the cultural heritage of the location. These names are a rich source of information for the land use, history, archaeology and folklore of an area. The placename can have a variety of language origins such as, Irish, Viking, Anglo-Norman and English. They can provide information on families, topographical features, and historical incidents. In terms of the built environment many names reference churches, fords, castles, raths, graveyards, roads and passes etc. Townlands are the smallest administrative land divisions used in Ireland and are in fact the only surviving administrative structure with a continuous history of development going back to medieval times if not earlier.

The names feature on the Ordnance Survey maps, the first edition of which was completed for the whole country circa 1842.  In the compilation of the Ordnance Survey scholars such as Eugene O’Curry and John O’Donovan were commissioned to provide the Survey with the anglicised forms of the Irish place-names, and it is these anglicised forms that have been in general use ever since.

Bill’s consulted the Placenames Database of Ireland – and Irish Names of Places by P.W. Joyce  to try to find the origin of ‘Goddamendy’, but had no luck with it.

Finally, Wikipedia tells him that the townland of Goddamendy is perhaps the only townland in Ireland containing a prayer in its name. Tradition has it that when a priest arrived late for the anointing of a dying man, the dead man’s relative cursed the priest, who replied “May God amend thee!”….

No citation for that, but it sounds reasonable to me.

I’m completing the report for a peatland survey we carried out along with wetland specialists last week. A total of 10 archaeological sightings representing five individual archaeological sites were identified during the survey. The sites identified consist of a Road – class 1 togher, a Road – class 3 togher and three sites classified as Structure – peatland.

The togher (trackway) is a substantial one of planks, roundwoods and limestone flags, identified in five locations and traced for 65 m running through the bog. Built with large timbers, roundwoods and limestone flags this togher represents a significant attempt to cross or access the bog.

Our GIS consultant, Nigel, of Impact GIS has created a lovely Photogrammetric model of the togher for your viewing and there’s a nice plan of it too.



For the smaller toghers, Professor Aidan O’Sullivan remarks in “Exploring past people’s interaction with wetland environments in Ireland” that “there is a growing sense that these were not structures designed to cross the bog, but to get into the bog”. Our trackway does appear to be aligned between two headlands so, in this case, it may have been an attempt to traverse the area. We’ve sampled it and will be forwarding for dating shortly. We anticipate an Early Bronze Age date, based on the depth within the bog it was noted.


Expert Guidance from the National Museum of Ireland Conservation Department

The Blackfriary Community Archaeology Project in Trim, Co. Meath Ireland, now in its fifth year, focuses research led archaeological excavation at the site of the 13th century Dominican Black Friary in Trim, Co. Meath. Founded in 1263 by Geoffrey de Geneville Lord of Meath, the friary was a significant site for centuries until the Dissolution of the monasteries in the mid 16th century. It was finally razed to the ground in the 18th century when sold off as a quarry. During the past five years university students, under the direction of the Irish Archaeology Field School, have been excavating the buried remains of this friary, and rediscovering its secrets.

The 18th century activity on the site had a devastating impact on the majestic architecture of the friary; the quarry men dug ‘robber trenches’ to access the wall foundations and remove as much of stone work as they could from the buildings. The stained glass windows were also removed and the lead harvested for recycling. The glass was discarded and, as we have found, beaten out of its lead matrix leaving behind only fragments of the stained glass windows that would have adorned the east window of the church, and possibly elsewhere in the friary precinct.


Stained glass window within its lead matrix

Stained glass window within its lead matrix

This year, working westward from the ecclesiastical buildings towards the garden range, students have uncovered three surviving fragments of stained glass window, with the glass still in its lead matrix.

This is an unprecedented find for the site, and due to the extreme fragility of the glass, we immediately sought advice from Head of Conservation at the National Museum of Ireland, Rolly Read. Rolly advised that the window fragments should be block lifted and came to the site himself to undertake the block lift. Block lifting is a technique used by conservation professionals to recover delicate or sensitive archaeological objects.


Site director Finola O'Carroll and supervisor Laura Corrway excavate the plinths

Site director Finola O’Carroll and supervisor Laura Corrway excavate the plinths

The block lifting took place over two days; to facilitate this we excavated a small regular area around the window fragments, creating a pedestal for each piece. This work required precision excavation to ensure that the window fragments remained supported by the soil matrix in which they had survived, while allowing scope to undercut each pedestal when they had been prepared for block lifting. When Rolly was satisfied that we had excavated to a sufficient depth around each piece, he got to work. With the assistance of a number of our staff and students, and an audience of most of the rest of the crew, he started by packing each pedestal with moistened acid-free conservation grade tissue paper, to support the delicate leadwork. Each piece was then wrapped in film to consolidate and protect it from the final stabilising stage. Once sufficiently wrapped and stable, Rolly used a quick drying mesh bandage to ‘cast’ each piece. This required precise and quick execution to ensure each piece was fully wrapped before this material started to set. The setting or curing process took about 20 minutes. When set this mesh formed a solid case around the piece, encasing it in the surrounding soil matrix. The final undercutting was carried out using trowels. Each piece was deftly flipped over into a tray, and further stabilised with film wrap, ready for transport. Each piece will now be fully excavated in lab conditions by conservators, allowing them to carry out consolidation and conservation work as they uncover the window fragments.


Rolly Read, Head of Conservation at the National Museum of Ireland, wraps the glass as the IAFS crew look on

Rolly Read, Head of Conservation at the National Museum of Ireland, wraps the glass as the IAFS crew look on

Rolly Read, Head of Conservation at the National Museum of Ireland, 'casts' the stained glass

Rolly Read, Head of Conservation at the National Museum of Ireland, ‘casts’ the stained glass


There are few surviving examples of medieval windows from archaeological contexts in Ireland so we are absolutely thrilled to have uncovered these pieces, and to have had expert guidance and assistance from the Museum to ensure that they may be consolidated in the best possible conditions!




The glass is ready to be lifted and taken to the museum for conservation

The glass is ready to be lifted and taken to the museum for conservation


Documenting the material past in the National Museum of Ireland

A very late entry from the museum archaeology sector! On the Day of Archaeology this year, I am working as a Documentation Assistant in the National Museum of Ireland – Archaeology, Dublin. I work as a team member of the museum’s Inventory project in the Irish Antiquities Division of the institution.

The National Museum of Ireland - Archaeology in Kildare Street, Dublin city

The National Museum of Ireland – Archaeology in Kildare Street, Dublin city

This project involves the documentation of the entire collections of the museum – a vast amount of objects amassed over a hundred years of collecting and conserving the Irish past. Documentation involves the organisation of information relating to all objects within a museum collection. When an object enters the museum collection, its details are recorded – e.g. object type, origins, dimensions and features – and it is assigned a unique museum registration number for future identification. The object is then placed in storage, and its details, registration number and current location are added to the museum database. If the object is taken out of storage, placed on exhibition, or loaned to another museum, the database record for the object is kept updated in order to monitor and track its location. A database of this nature also allows curators and researchers to search museum databases for specific object types, and to record secure curatorial and conservation information regarding a specific object. The National Museum of Ireland collection totals over four million objects, so without stringent documentation procedures, it would be impossible to maintain the required level of information, control and identification of their collections.

The Inventory Team documents the contents of hundreds of wooden drawers of artefacts from the storage crypt of the museum. The contents of the drawers can vary widely, and generally contain a mixed collection of artefact varieties and materials from several different chronological periods. Day to day, we can encounter a huge range of artefact types. These can consist of bronze swords, bone pins, flint scrapers, stone axes – and everything in between! We also deal with the more everyday domestic material unearthed from archaeological excavations, such as animal bones, organic samples and lots of pottery. Following a previous day of documenting a drawer of butchered animal bone, charcoal samples and clay pipe stems, I am rewarded today in my drawer of artefacts. I deal with a number of varied objects from an a donated antiquarian collection, which includes stone cannon shot, stone lamps, copper alloy dress pins and stone moulds used for casting jettons and bronze axes.


Stone moulds used for casting a bronze axe and jettons

Each artefact is identified, entered into our database with information on its find place, donor, distinguishing features and habitat. It is then given a new label and storage bag, and if necessary, repackaging for conservation needs.

The work can be challenging, with the former recording and storage standards of artefacts differing significantly over time, but this role gives me the opportunity to work hands-on with an amazing artefact collection. Each day gives me the chance to encounter and handle a previously unseen piece of our past, and gain an expanded knowledge and appreciation of our material culture.

To get an idea of the range of objects encountered during the National Museum of Ireland Inventory Project, a number of our most interesting and unusual artefacts are profiled on our Documentation Discoveries blog .


Student Archaeology Summer Project

I never thought that at the age of 50 I would be on summer holidays from college, but you know that’s just one of the many unexpected twists and surprises on the journey of life. Archaeology is a bit like that: a  journey of discovery with a sense of stuff (as George Carlin terms “material culture”) waiting to be discovered. My name is Dolores Kearney, and I have one more year in my joint degree of archaeology and history. This summer I decided to submit an abstract for the Archaeology department magazine.

This abstract was accepted, and research needed to start. The subject content is in the category of historical archaeology, and the title is “The Search for Abel Ram’s Gorey Palatines”. My research process is almost completed, and today I went viewing and comparing farmsteads between the north and south of Co Wexford Ireland. This was done in order to assist me in finding the fixed point in the Wexford landscape for the original 16th century Palatine settlement.

I have before me this evening a visual record of some very stylish neat and niche Wexford rural architecture of the 18th century, and the next step is to mark similarities between the houses of the north and the south. My final step on the research ladder is the setting up of interviews with some descendants of the original Palatine settlers of Gorey, Co Wexford.Then the writing starts….


Game of Stones

The Boyne Valley in Ireland, like Westeros, is a land that is steeped in fantastical history. It has everything from prehistoric mounds to stone castles to medieval town walls. Archaeologists are drawn to it, while the rest of us wait to see what the new season will uncover. There is the same anticipation for a new season of Game of Thrones, and this is what inspired us to celebrate the work of the archaeologists for this years’ Day of Archaeology. Well, to be honest, we had a lot of fun last year, so we wanted to do something again. It is a great way of getting the public to interact with archaeology and to imagine what might have been.

We put the call out that we wanted to do a Game of Thrones inspired trailer based on the archaeology this year. We already had access to the type of prime locations that Hollywood scouts would love to get their hands on. All we needed was permission from the archaeologists again, some willing bodies with an uncanny resemblance to the series characters, a few creative types and fabulous costumes from the local living history group. Oh, and sunshine, in Ireland. Thankfully, we got what we needed and the result can be seen above.

But what about the archaeology that inspired it? This year, after a few seasons of remote sensing, excavations started at the multivallate earthworks on the Hill of Ward in Meath. Known as Tlachtga, this site is associated with Irish Halloween folklore and pre-Christian fire rituals. It was also the site of a murderous parlay between Gaelic and Norman lords which changed the balance of power in Medieval Ireland. The excavations were carried out by UCD School of Archaeology. This generated a lot of curiosity and it has put another fantastic site on the map for people to visit.

This year also saw the return of the Irish Archaeological Field School for their fifth season of excavations of a 13th century Dominican friary under waste ground in Trim known as the Blackfriary. This is uncovering more foundations of the friary, lots of medieval artifacts and more burials. The local community are welcome to visit the site and open days will be happening during the Summer. There is even talk about reclaiming the site to turn it into a public gardening area.

Other areas that feature in our parody are Trim Castle, (one of the finest Norman Castles in Ireland and subject to numerous seasons of excavations over the years), Newtown Cathedral and the medieval town gates of Trim.

Special thanks to the archaeologists who let us film during excavations and to all the locals who played a part.

Oulala Productions

Investigating the peat bogs of Ireland

I am the Bord Na Móna Project Archaeologist and this year we are inaugurating a new 3 year campaign of archaeological and palaeoenvironmental investigations in the peatlands of Ireland.

Re-locating sites in peatland

Re-locating sites in peatland, Cloonshannagh Bog, Co. Roscommon.

The Irish peatlands because of their waterlogged anaerobic environment are an internationally important repository of archaeological sites and artefacts as well as ancient environmental and climatic biofacts. They preserve evidence ranging from human remains, settlements and trackways and platforms to food and artefacts, plants, pollen, insects, amoeba and even the fallout from ancient volcanic eruptions.

Bord Na Móna is the state sponsored company with interests in energy, fuel supply, horticulture, waste management and the environmental markets, and has the responsibility to manage a large part of Ireland’s peat resource. The company owns and manages some 80,000 hectares of lands, the majority of which are peatlands. Archaeological survey of the peatlands over the last 30 years has resulted in the discovery of many archaeological sites and structures preserved within peat. Bord Na Móna has the responsibility to organise and finance the archaeological investigation of its peatlands in advance of peat harvesting. My role as Project Archaeologist is to work, under the terms of the Code of Practice between the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, the National Museum of Ireland and Bord na Móna and identify the archaeological sites to be investigated. I am responsible for developing a programme of investigations and assisting with the selection of archaeological consultants to carry out the work through the EU tender framework. I also manage the implementation and delivery of the project investigations including analysis and reporting. Over the next 3 years we will be investigating more than a hundred archaeological sites in bogs in counties Longford, Offaly, Roscommon and Westmeath.

Medieval leather shoe from  Toar Bog, Co. Westmeath.

Medieval leather shoe found in Toar Bog, Co. Westmeath.

This week we are advancing the work by precisely re-locating and marking sites to be investigated. This will allow us to identify the best places to open excavation cuttings. The work involves finding the coordinates of the monuments identified during earlier surveys with GPS, checking their condition and deciding on the optimal placement of excavation trenches. The work is physically demanding and requires walking long distances over the bog and jumping across dozens of deep water-filled drains. The monuments include trackways and platforms that range in date from the Neolithic to the Medieval period and are visible at various depths in the faces of the drains and sometimes on the surface. Sometimes in the course of the work we make a new find, like the Medieval leather shoe illustrated above, that was identified by a keen-eyed member of the team earlier in the week. The moccasin shoe had a leather sole and was probably lost when an earlier bog walker stepped into a bog hole. Unable to retrieve it they had to make the long trudge back home with only a single shoe. Luckily we made it back with all our boots and equipment intact! The shoe will be conserved and analysed and sent to the National Museum for permanent curation.

Education, Documentation and Administration in The Viking Triangle

I am an Irish museum archaeologist, currently working in the historic centre of Waterford city, known locally as The Viking Triangle due to its heritage relating to the founding of the city by the Vikings in the tenth century. I work within a complex of three city museums, known collectively as Waterford Museum of Treasures ( ). The collections of the three museums range widely in chronology, beginning with Viking artefacts from the founding of the city, through the Anglo-Norman, ecclesiastical  and English monarchical influences of the medieval period, the Georgian period, and extending right up to the modern social history of the city in the late twentieth century.

As is common in most museums today, I wear many hats in my current role, which can range in tasks and content from day to day – including artefact documentation, marketing, customer services, curatorial assistance and museum education.

Documentation, one of my main responsibilities, refers to the organisation of information relating to all objects within a museum collection. When an object enters the museum collection, its details are recorded – e.g. object type, origins, dimensions and features – and it is assigned a unique museum registration number for future identification. The object is then stored in an appropriate location, and its details, registration number and current location are added to the museum database. If the object is taken out of storage, placed on exhibition, or loaned to another museum, the database record for the object is kept updated in order to monitor and track its location. A database of this nature also allows curators and researchers to search museum databases for specific object types, and to record secure curatorial and conservator information regarding a specific object. Considering that museums possess collections of thousands of objects, it would be impossible to maintain the required level of information, control and identification of their collections without the use of the documentation process.

In my documentation responsibilities, I deal with a wide and varying range of artefacts and chronologies on a daily basis, and today I am documenting a local donation of three large vintage leather suitcases into our collection. Our museum’s collection policy allows for the collection of contemporary and historical objects in order to preserve these items into the future, and the museum is extremely lucky to continually benefit from ongoing donations by Waterford citizens with a sense of civic pride for their museums.

I am currently compiling new education packs and activities for use by primary schools visiting our museums during their school terms, and that has formed the bulk of my day’s work. This will be a work pack which we will provide to visiting schools, which will provide them with worksheets and activities related to the museum exhibitions to carry out during their visit.

Due to school budget constraints relating to participation in off-site activities, it is imperative that our museum can offer a valuable, curriculum-based learning experience in order to validate the educational worth of the school visit. It is therefore vital that the questions and tasks in the education packs relate directly to necessities within the outlined curriculum targets for particular age-groups and subjects. My work trawling the primary school curriculum guidelines over the past month has given me a new-found respect for the work of school teachers! The museum provides a unique learning environment, and I hope that our work packs will reflect and enhance this advantage, and help achieve the absolute highest potential of the school visit experience. Children are a wonderful audience for archaeology, and my work in education is a great opportunity to try and pass on my enthusiasm and passion for the subject to the next generation.

I spend the morning going through our Medieval Museum in order to test the suitability of my current worksheet questions and tasks with the practical aspects of our exhibitions – such as eye levels of display cases, gallery orientation for activity trails and case lighting levels for clear observation. This involved the task of me lowering myself to a child-friendly level in front of the exhibit cases, and, understandably, I receive a number of confused looks from visitors, who quietly wonder why I am kneeling in front of the display cases!

Also to be done today is a number of administrative tasks relating to our upcoming renewal application for the Museum Standards Programme of Ireland (MSPI). This is a standards programme which aims to improve all aspects of museum practice and levels of collections care and management. Our museums currently hold full accreditation to the programme since 2009, which we will maintain by renewal application later this year. The programme is important as it helps the museum to maintain management focus and paramount collections care, and is a display of our museum’s commitment to best professional practice and management.

The day is over before I know it, and although I still have a lot of work left to do in the near future, I feel as though I’m making positive progress with it all….fingers crossed!!

Public Archaeology – a community view

This all singing, all dancing contribution was undertaken by local film makers Delphine Coudray, and Roy Murray includes archaeologists, university students, local children and Paddy Rispin, from the Trim Living History group.

Dodging torrential rain showers, in between excavation cuttings, this is archaeological interpretation, community style: Blackfriary Community DoA 2013

DoA video

The Archaeology:

The Blackfriary Community Archaeology Project is collaboration between the Irish Archaeology Field School (IAFS), Meath Local Authorities and the community of Trim, Co. Meath, Ireland. The focus of the project is the Blackfriary, a 13th Dominican Friary, founded by the Anglo-Norman Geoffrey de Geneville, Lord of Meath in 1267. The friary was quarried out in the 18th century and the remains of are mostly buried. The site, listed as a National Monument in the 1970’s, is situated in a large field and is surrounded by housing. As the town developed, around it, the field fell into disuse and eventual dereliction. The Project is challenged with investigating the archaeological remains of the site, much now underground, and working with the local community to create a space where community and visitors alike can explore heritage and use the site in a mutually beneficial and sustainable way. The Irish Archaeology Field School carries out a summer excavation project at the site annually; this incorporates a practical field programme for archaeology, anthropology and forensic students into the archaeological research project.

The Community:

Our summer excavation season depends very much on the good relationship the School has with the community; Trim has an active community that are creative, resourceful and proud of their heritage. The School asked members of the community to help out with a contribution for the Day of Archaeology, something that the community themselves would be interested in… Although not perhaps a typical day for archaeologists, the imagination, enthusiasm and fun of this contribution is very typical of the School’s experience of working in this wonderful community. Enjoy!