The Journal of Irish Archaeology Volume XIX 2010: Review


One of the highlights of the archaeological year is the publication of the Journal of Irish Archaeology by the Institute of Archaeologists of Ireland. This latest volume XIX for 2010 is edited by Prof. James Mallory of Queen’s University Belfast and includes six papers on a variety of topics ranging from prehistory to the post-medieval period. There are papers on the rock art of Loughcrew and George Petrie’s work on megalithic tombs. There are surveys of Inis Airc Island, medieval church altars and the limestone quarries of the Hook Peninsula, and there is also a report on the excavation of early medieval and prehistoric features at Ballyburn Upper, Co. Kildare.

Open-air rock art at Loughcrew, Co. Meath

Elizabeth Shee Twohig, Corinne Roughley, Colin Shell, Ciaran O’Reilly, Peter Clarke and Gillian Swanton

Elizabeth SheeTwohig et al. report on 10 new examples of rock art found in the vicinity of the Loughcrew, Co. Meath passage Tomb cemetery since 2003. They discuss the geology and location of the art and present a catalogue and drawings and review the earlier discoveries. They discuss the repertoire and organisation of the art. In the conclusion they suggest that the open-air rock art and passage tomb art could be contemporary.

Druids’ altars, Carrowmore and the birth of Irish archaeology

David McGuinness

David McGuinness in a paper on the history of archaeology explores how George Petrie’s work on the Carrowmore megalithic cemetery in 1837 and the opening of the Knockmary Tumulus in the Phoenix Park Dublin in front of the members of the Royal Irish Academy lead to the acceptance of megalithic sites as tombs rather than temples.

Reconsidering early medieval seascapes: new insights from Inis Airc, Co. Galway. Ireland

Ian Kujit, Ryan Lash, Michael, Gibbons, Jim Higgins, Nathan Goodale and John O’Neill

Field survey of Inis Airc, Co. Galway suggests that the island with its stone church, graveyards, cashel and possible oratory, holy wells and open air altar may have been an early medieval ecclesiastical settlement.

Settlement and economy of an early medieval site in the vicinity of two newly discovered enclosures near the Carlow/Kildare border.

Nial O’Neill

This is a report of the excavation of an unenclosed early medieval subsistence and manufacturing site as well as the testing of the two hilltop enclosures, one with a large burnt deposit at its centre, and a Bronze Age hut site at Ballyburn Upper, Co. Kildare. The discussion is focussed on the unenclosed subsistence and manufacturing site as this is an indication that not all activity took place within the enclosed farmsteads known as ringforts and cashels.

Altars in Ireland. 1050-1200: a survey

Griffin Murray

This assessment of eight stone alters from the medieval period finds that they were all of a uniform size and shape in order to hold a reasonable number of religious artefacts and that there decoration was influenced by altars of wood and metal.

Between the sea and the land: coastal limestone quarries on the Hook Peninsula, Co. Wexford

Niall Colfer

Niall Colfer discusses the post-medieval industrial limestone quarries of the Loftus Estate of the Hook Peninsula, Co. Wexford. He notes that the stone was used to construct many of the landscape features we see on the peninsula today.

Cite this post as:

Mount, C. The Journal of Irish Archaeology Volume XIX 2010: Review. The Charles Mount Blog, August 25, 2011.

The Archaeological Institute of America Archaeological Heritage Map of Ireland on Google Earth

Google skin screenshot

I read about the new Google Earth skin  on Jennifer Lockett’s blog and decided to give it a try at the AIA webpage . Unfortunately the site states:“As you visit these sites, remember that each year hundreds of irreplaceable archaeological sites are destroyed by unrestrained development, looting, the vagaries of war, and environmental changes”. Whatever about the “unrestrained development”, Ireland hasn’t been at war for nearly 90 years and is one of the most peaceful places in the world. I hope this misplaced rhetoric won’t discourage any visitors to Ireland.

Laying that aside this is a useful Google Earth skin that looks forward to the exciting ways that Google Earth can be used to present cultural heritage to the public. I’ve been using it to generate distribution maps for a book I’m working on. The data downloaded to my computer very quickly and without fuss. Clicking on a site name in the places menu brings you smartly to the site you want and a cleverly designed window opens providing you information on the site. Clicking on learn more brings you to a window from Heritage that provides copious information on getting to the site, opening hours, length of visit, admissions fees etc. This section is also usefully provided in seven European languages. This type of user friendly application is what the Irish Archaeological Survey should be moving towards and a comparison with the Sites and Monuments Database (which was not working when I tried to access it for this review) is revealing. But the AIA Google Earth layer is not without its bugs. I found that the Passage Tomb cemetery at Loughcrew is marked in the wrong place, to the north-east of Wilkinstown, when it’s actually near Oldcastle many miles to the west (see the image above). But this shouldn’t detract from the usefulness of this application and the AIA is to be congratulated.

Mount, C. The Archaeological Institute of America Archaeological Heritage Map of Ireland on Google Earth? The Charles Mount Blog, May 18, 2011.