Ireland

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Science Notes – Calculating historical population fluctuations in Ireland

Previously, large-scale changes in population were quite difficult, if not impossible, to discern from the archaeological record. But while there are still many biases and pitfalls, new statistical techniques are starting to provide innovative ways to determine movement and migration patterns. In this month’s ‘Science Notes’, we explore some of these new techniques, and examine recent research that has utilised them to assess population fluctuations in Ireland.

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New insights into Irish bog butter

A study recently published in Scientific Reports, examining examples from across Ireland of what is known as bog butter – waxy deposits found in the peat bogs of Ireland and Scotland (see CA 226) – has demonstrated that this was an unusually long-lived practice, spanning from the Early Bronze Age through to the post-medieval period.

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Investigating leprosy in Ireland

New research into the origins of leprosy in Ireland has revealed connections with the Viking world. A team from Queen’s University Belfast, the University of Surrey, the University of Southampton, and the University of East Anglia analysed five skeletons: three from Dublin (SkCXLVIII, SkCXCV, SkCCXXX), one from Armoy, Co. Antrim (Sk171), and the last from Ardreigh, Co. Kildare (Sk1494). All five presented with lesions consistent with leprosy, but to confirm the diagnosis the team conducted aDNA analysis of the remains.

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Caherconnell Archaeological Field School

Caherconnell Archaeological Field School (CAFS) was set up in 2010 with a vision for providing unforgettable archaeological experiences in the unique Burren region. In partnership with the National University of Ireland in Galway we aim to provide the very best archaeological education as well as a cultural element which sees students interact with the people […]

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Isert Kelly Castle Excavation

The Galway Archaeological Field School provides students with hands-on experience of the archaeology and architecture of medieval Ireland. We specialise in this field and seek to immerse our students in the wealth of medieval castles, churches and monasteries which lie scattered across the Irish landscape. In summer 2020, we will return to Isert Kelly Castle […]

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Dental health and poverty during the Great Irish Famine

A new study analysing the teeth of adults who died in the Kilkenny Union Workhouse at the height of the Great Famine (1845-1852) has revealed some of the possible social reasons for their poor oral health, and how this may have affected their general wellbeing.

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Review – The Quest for the Irish Celt: the Harvard Archaeological Mission to Ireland

his book tells the story of the Harvard Archaeological Mission, which worked in Ireland between 1932 and 1936 to explore the Celtic origins of the Irish race. Using now-controversial eugenics ideas, it looked to physically identify a Celtic race in the modern Irish. Its social anthropologists saw 1930s Ireland as a society in transition from a traditional, rural, Celtic way of life to modernity. And its archaeologists sought, through excavation, to find evidence of the Celtic presence in Irish prehistory, linked to Continental European cultures.

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Megalithic discoveries in County Meath

A previously unknown Neolithic passage tomb has been discovered in County Meath, Ireland, beneath the 18th-century manor house of Dowth Hall. The monument was unearthed by a team from Devenish – the Belfast-based agri-technology firm that has owned Dowth Hall and the surrounding estate since 2013 – in partnership with UCD School of Archaeology, and has been hailed by Dr Clíodhna Ní Lionáin, lead archaeologist on the project, as ‘truly the find of a lifetime.’

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Current Archaeology 342

Even a brand new town can hold ancient secrets. That is certainly the case at Sherford, currently under construction outside Plymouth, where wide-ranging excavations have revealed a wealth of clues to much earlier occupation spanning thousands of years. Some of the Sherford structures are enigmatic, but the estate covered in our next feature is downright […]

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Climate change in Bronze Age Ireland

It is well known that the Industrial revolution led to a staggering shift in the global nitrogen cycle – a key process that supports life by circulating nutrients between the land, atmosphere, and oceans – but human-linked impacts on the environment in earlier periods of history are far less well understood. A paper recently published by an international team of researchers led by the University of British Columbia and the Institute of Technology, Sligo, is set to change that, however, showing that humans may have had a significant impact on the nitrogen cycle in Ireland during the Bronze Age.

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