Would ya ever just fulacht off with yourself*… Or Blog ‘Post Quem’

*Credit @voxhiberionacum

Our last three Days of Archaeology posts catalogue the collapse of the Celtic Tiger and the collapse of the profession in Ireland, the challenges we face etc….

Being Irish, I find it very difficult to be optimistic and positive. I laugh at the motivational speakers, haven’t drank the Kool Aid of positive thinking and have always been a deep cynic. Pessimism seems to be our natural state as a people. Despite a slight economic upturn which appears to be reflected in the amount of archaeological work that’s out there, there’s a deep rooted cynicism within us which leads us to expect the worst.

But we did survive the famine, didn’t we (well, some of us did), and it’ll never be that bad again, surely?

This year Moore Group has been busier than any time in the past six years and we’re all feeling much more positive about the future. Maybe it’s just the fine weather which is infecting us with hope. Maybe it’ll all go wrong again tomorrow. Whatever happens, we woke up this morning feeling positive, with two gigs involving actual archaeology – so here’s our happy, happy, fun day of archaeology in tweets and video with some small explication.

So, early start for all of us. I make my way to a small town in North Galway to investigate a number of features we uncovered yesterday while testing for a proposed road widening scheme, while a second team travels to a midlands town to excavate a section of medieval town defences uncovered during the course of a water improvement scheme;

The principal feature we’ve encountered is a burnt mound or Fulacht Fiadh – You can read loads more about what we think these sites were for on our blog by clicking here or just go to our blog and type ‘beer’ into the search box. Here’s the primer:

The majority of Irish field monuments are defined by their names – a standing stone is a standing stone and a ringfort is a ringfort but not so the fulacht fiadh, characterised by its horseshoe-shaped mound and associated trough. The name derives from Geoffrey Keating’s seventeenth century manuscript Foras Feasa ar Eirinn and as a complete term does not appear in any early manuscripts. Conventional wisdom, based largely on M.J. O’Kelly’s 1952 experiments in Ballyvourney, Co. Cork suggests that they were used for cooking. John Waddell points out that ‘the fact that meat can be boiled in them does not prove that this was their main purpose’. Alternative theories that have been proposed include bathing, dyeing and tanning. It is however, generally agreed that their primary function was to heat water by depositing fired stones into a water-filled trough.

First job this morning is the clean back:

After a few hours we have a nice clean surface and can discern a possible trough feature:

After recording, surveying and drawing the features we dig a small trench into the possible trough feature and we discover that the base has some timber planking:

Here’s some of the responses to our tweeting of what some people think is a very dull and uninteresting site type (not our opinion)..

After recording we cover the burnt mound with geotextile so it’s ready for excavation in the coming months.

And then off up the road to another small site uncovered yesterday:

This one comprises a small burnt spread – some burnt stone and fire reddened clay.. quick survey and we’re done:

Meanwhile in a Midlands town our other team have encountered a wall during the course of monitoring a water scheme. The face of the wall  was exposed earlier during the week to a length of 4.4m and a maximum depth of 1.43m below the ground surface.  The face of the wall was not perfectly straight and bowed slightly giving the appearance that it may have started to turn slightly more towards a nearby river. It’s constructed of unworked limestone with a mixture of rectangular and rounded stones. There’s an evident batter  and we’re fairly convinced that its part of the towns medieval defenses:

By 2.30 pm we’re finished with the burnt mounds and ready to head home…

And then my Day of Archaeological becomes a long, long wait…

I try to Vine my misery, newspaper finished, bored with twitter, drizzle starting – but Vine crashes..

And finally at 5.15 my machine driver arrives – backfill can begin and our fulacht can be put back to bed.

Somewhat like the circumstances posted by Natasha Powers earlier I am limited in what I can post – I haven’t asked permission from my clients to post details of the where’s and whats… but here’s a hint from some of our recent findings as to where the burnt mound site was – Link.

And here’s a hint as to where the town defenses were found: Link.

And to round off a lovely day, my passenger Graeme identified a possible archaeological feature (another area of burning) in a recently ploughed field just beyond where we were working today – pictured below…








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