THE ASSOCIATION OF YOUNG IRISH ARCHAEOLOGISTS ANNUAL CONFERENCE 2006 Hosted By
University College Cork 3rd –5th February 2006
Kerri Cleary & Graham McCarthy
Proceedings of the annual conference of The Association of Young Irish Archaeologists, University College Cork, 3rd to 5th February 2006.
Published in 2006 by The Association of Young Irish Archaeologists c/o Department of Archaeology, University College Cork.
Copyright ÂŠ The authors
ISBN: 0-9503627-1-9 ISBN: 978-0-9503627-1-7
Cover design: David Redmond Copy-editing: Kerri Cleary and Graham McCarthy Layout: Kerri Cleary
Printed by Snap Printing, Crawford Hall, Western Road, Cork.
Foreword The 2006 Association of Young Irish Archaeologists conference was a huge success, with a wide range of topics presented to a very high standard. It was deemed essential, therefore, to publish the proceedings and continue the good reputation of the AYIA. Although the level of activity within the association has fluctuated since its’ founding in Belfast in 1968, the annual conference remains the associations’ main event, hosted in rotation by the various student societies. The AYIA is a platform through which people can offer their views and open the floor to discussion. It can often be the first opportunity for people to present their research in public and with the reputation of a friendly atmosphere there can be no better place to take this first step. The 2006 conference was hosted by the Archaeological Society, University College Cork and attended by almost one hundred people, with representatives also from University College Dublin; Trinity College Dublin; Queens University Belfast; the National University of Ireland, Galway; the Institute of Technology Sligo and the commercial sector. In particular the work of the organising committee: Rachel English; Lisa Carey; Andrew Mills; Pat Grogan; Griffin Murray and Niamh McCullagh should be acknowledged, for without their assistance the weekend could not have been such a success. The weekend offered a wide variety of papers, both chronologically and thematically. Prof. Peter Woodman, a founding member of the association, opened the proceedings by discussing the history of the AYIA and the way forward for both the organisation and archaeology in general. The inaugural lecture was presented by Dr. Marion Dowd, where she delved into the role of caves for funerary activity during the Neolithic. The papers produced in this volume were presented on the Saturday and span the Mesolithic through to the post-medieval period, covering both artefacts and buildings, with further studies on underwater archaeology and the law, environmental changes in Central Asia and archaeology and the media. Recognition must also go to Sheilagh Condon and Mícheál Ó Cearbhalláin, who due to other commitments were unable to provide papers for these proceedings, despite their valuable contributions at the conference. The 2006 AYIA conference was an overwhelming success due to both the large and geographically wide attendance and the high standard of presentations and lively debate that followed. The event clearly emphasised the growing importance the Association has in the world of Irish archaeology and related disciplines. Each year the conference evolves, new themes come to the forefront and new friends and future colleagues are made. For all of these reasons and more, the Association of Young Irish Archaeologists is worth getting involved in, even if just for the memories of a great annual conference, the fun that was had and the issues debated.
Kerri Cleary AYIA Chairperson 2006
Acknowledgements The Association of Young Irish Archaeologists would like to thank the generous sponsors of the 2006 conference: The Department of the Environment Heritage and Local Government; The Heritage Council of Ireland; The Societies Guild, UCC; The Department of Archaeology, UCC; The Archaeological Services Unit, UCC and The Cork City Council. This publication was only made possible through their contributions. We would also like to thank the guest speakers, Prof. Peter Woodman and Dr. Marion Dowd, for opening the conference and contributing to the overall professionalism of the event. Thank you to the twelve speakers on the Saturday for the wide variety of topics and the high standard of presentations. Acknowledgement is also due to the various behind the scenes organisation that made the conference such a success: the AYIA 2006 committee (see foreword); Liz Carroll, Services Manager of the Student Centre, UCC; Campbell’s Catering; An Spalpín Fánac public house; musicians: Seamus Mathews and Graham McCarthy; table quiz organisers: Niamh McCullagh, Griffin Murray, Britta Schnittger and Edward Meaney; Brendan Coughlan of Beamish & Crawford Plc.; Kerri Cleary, James Lyttleton, Graham McCarthy and Griffin Murray for contributing to the Sunday fieldtrip; Tom Kavanagh Bus Service; Campus House Hostel, Read’s Newsagents and Edward Carroll for his help with the conference packs. Thanks also to Brian Dolan for advice in the early stages of preparing this publication and to Robin Turk for assistance with the graphics. Finally, a huge thank you is due to David Redmond, who designed both the book cover and the new AYIA logo.
CONTENTS Kerri Cleary Foreword & Acknowledgments
Brian Dolan Lambay Lithics: The Taphonomy of a non Ploughzone Surface Scatter
Neil Carlin Some Findings from a Study of Beaker Settlement in Leinster
Conn Herriott The Numinous Aquatic: symbolic interaction with watery places throughout Irish prehistory Gary Mulrooney It takes Two to Tango: A Review of Beehive Querns
Ian Johnston New Approaches to the study of Medieval Town Walls: The Waterford City Case Study
Joe Nunan The Fortified Houses of County Cork: Origin, fabric, form, function and social space
Aisling Tierney International Organisations and Legislation Affecting the Underwater Cultural Heritage
Don Oâ€™Meara Well you can always talk about the weather: An examination of the present use of palaeoclimatology and geoarchaeology in Kazakhstan, as well as an interpretative framework for how landscape and climate affects human society Gearoid Kelleher Archaeology and the Media
Lambay Lithics: The Taphonomy of a NonPloughzone Surface Scatter. Brian Dolan Surface artefact scatters are an important and abundant archaeological resource. Lithic specialists have for a long time recognised, and exploited, the potential of scatters brought to light through ploughing. This paper uses the case study of a surface collection from Lambay Island, Co. Dublin to highlight the potential of surface material affected by a variety of other taphonomic processes including rabbit and cattle activity, coastal erosion and spade cultivation. The various effects of these processes and the difficulties they pose for interpretation of the material are discussed and one methodology for dealing with them is detailed. It is concluded that, despite the problems inherent in the material, non-ploughzone surface scatters can provide valuable insights into the lives of the people who created them.
INTRODUCTION The analysis of surface artefact scatters is nothing new to the field of archaeology; some of the earliest antiquarian collections of stone tools consisted of surface collected artefacts. In nineteenth century Ireland antiquarian collectors such as Knowles, Gray and Buick amassed large collections, particularly in the north of the country (see Woodman 1978, 327-330). More recently, research has focused on material brought to the surface through ploughing and collected through systematic, gridded surveys. Consequently, recent considerations of lithic artefact taphonomy have focussed on ploughed contexts, in particular the effects of the taphonomic processes involved in bringing stone tools to the surface (Schofield 1991a; Dunnell and Simek 1995; Shott 1995; Steinberg 1996). Despite the problems these processes present, numerous studies (Cooney 1990; Green and Zvelebil 1990; Peterson 1990; Schofield 1991b; Guinan 1992; Hodgers 1994) have considered what this easily accessible and collectable material can contribute to our knowledge of the past. This paper considers the very different taphonomic processes affecting a small surface assemblage of lithics from Lambay Island, Co. Dublin and outlines one methodology for dealing with them. In 2005 detailed analysis of two surface collections from Lambay was undertaken as part of an MA dissertation in the UCD School of Archaeology. The analysis formed part of Professor Gabriel Cooneyâ€™s wider research program for the island with the aim of determining what could be learned about the landscapes of the prehistoric people who created and deposited the collections. Early in the research it became clear that there was little in the literature either considering or demonstrating how to deal with the distinctive taphonomic processes which brought the Lambay collections to light. A new approach was developed, utilizing GIS technology and more traditional techniques of analysis, in a way that attempted to maximise the potential of the unusual data under study.
BACKGROUND Lambay Island, the largest island off the east coast of Ireland, is located 4km off the north Dublin coast, east of Rush and north-east of Ireland’s Eye and Howth Head. The modern island is the remnant of a long extinct volcano, which has left approximately two thirds of the island as uplands and created the famous Lambay porphyry (Stillman 1994). The island has an area of 250 hectares above the high water mark and a highest point of 126 metres accentuated by a prehistoric hilltop cairn (Cooney forthcoming, 15). The western third of Lambay is low-lying and boasts the largest area with substantial soil cover. The rest of the island is generally characterised by patchy glacial till punctuated with rocky outcrops (Fig. 1). Parts of the western shore are made up of raised beach material including sand, shells, beach shingle, and “traces of midden deposits” (Seymour 1907, 8). The topography is highly variable and has influenced how people used the island in the past and also how artefacts were deposited, moved and rediscovered.
Figure 1 - Aerial Photograph with 1937 OS 6” Map overlay showing the extent of the two collections and some placenames mentioned in the text. (© Ordnance Survey Ireland/Government of Ireland Copyright Permit No. MP 003406).
The most recent and probably best known work carried out on Lambay has been Prof. Cooney’s excavations of a Neolithic stone axe production/quarry site. The site is extremely important as it is the first definite recognition in Ireland or Britain of a quarry site where the rock was not primarily worked through flaking (Cooney 2005, 17). Cooney has also undertaken some smaller-scale rescue excavations, large-scale geophysical survey of parts of the island and the collection of one of the surface collections under consideration here, all as part of an ongoing research program (Cooney 1998a; Cooney 1998b; Cooney 2000b; Cooney 2000a; Cooney forthcoming). Lambay Island, however, has attracted archaeological attention for many years. The collection of surface artefacts on the island was recorded as far back 2
as the nineteenth century (Seymour 1896) and lithic artefacts from Lambay are present in the Keiller-Knowles collection (Cooney forthcoming, 16). Mitchell (1946) also reported finding chipped stone artefacts, including a hollow scraper. Macalister (1929; Herity 1982) reported a number of artefacts found during work on the islandâ€™s harbour in the twenties that dated to the Neolithic/Bronze Age as well as the Iron Age, including some highly unusual La TĂ¨ne and Roman finds later re-interpreted by Rynne (1976). The recent analysis of the surface collections has extended the history of human settlement on the island as far back as the late Mesolithic and possibly farther (Dolan 2005).
COLLECTION Methods of collection are extremely important in interpreting surface assemblages. They can easily introduce biases, affect and possibly create patterns in the material analysed. As mentioned above, there are references to the collection of lithic material on Lambay since at least the nineteenth century. This is unsurprising considering their ubiquity and the ease with which they can be gathered. It is unclear as to how many artefacts were collected or what effect their absence had on the current analysis. The material considered here was collected in a similar fashion, as an aside to excavations and surveys on the island and on both random walks around the island and walks specifically to find artefacts. The data recorded for each artefact was variable within the assemblage and this had repercussions on how the methodology was designed and how the data was analysed and interpreted. The assemblage consisted of two separate collections (Fig. 1). The main part of the assemblage analysed, consisting of 493 artefacts, was collected between the years 1992 and 2005 as a by-product of annual fieldwork by Cooney (Collection 1). A smaller part of the assemblage, consisting of 156 artefacts, was collected by Beatrice Kelly during occasional visits to the island over a less well defined period of time. These were picked up as casual finds on walks and also in repeated visits to locations known to produce high numbers of finds (Collection 2). Both collections were accumulated during walks that would have covered the majority of the islandâ€™s surface, although some areas would certainly have been walked more frequently then others. Areas where the ground was broken or sections were exposed were specifically surveyed for artefacts and areas known to produce a lot of flint were deliberately revisited. Repeated survey has been noted as being very important in reducing biases caused by variations in survey intensity, individual variability, weather conditions, visibility and weathering (Shott 1995). It is particularly important when only small numbers of artefacts are visible at any one time, as in limited erosive contexts. Finds from Collection 1 were bagged and recorded in the field. Artefacts from particular findspots were bagged together and the location described on the bag and/or plotted on a field map of the island. The accuracy of the plots varied depending on the proximity of the findspot to mapped features. In 2004 and 2005 some co-ordinates were also recorded using a handheld GPS (Global Positioning System). A large proportion of the artefacts recorded during this survey could be located with some confidence in the GIS (Geographical Information System), while some could be assigned to much less specific locations. The collection methods for Collection 2 are not as well known. Some finds were numbered and their locations recorded in a notebook but none were plotted on field 3
maps. The spatial information for Collection 2 was therefore less reliable than that for Collection 1.
TAPHONOMY The taphonomic processes affecting the Lambay material are very distinctive. While none of the surface assemblage was recovered from recently ploughed contexts, ploughing has taken place on the island in the past and has played an indirect part in shaping some of the assemblage. Similarly, spade cultivation on the island played no part in bringing the collections to the surface but its role in the shaping of the assemblage cannot be ignored. The actual exposure of artefacts on Lambay and consequently their collection has been caused by a variety of natural erosive processes. Coastal erosion has uncovered artefacts along the western shore while the movement of cattle around the island has led to broken ground at gates, tracks, watering holes and sheltered spots. The most significant cause of erosion, however, is the islandâ€™s large rabbit population, estimated in 2005 to be c.15,000-20,000. Their excavations have led to significant soil disturbance on almost all areas of the island, particularly on the steeper slopes (Fig. 2).
Figure 2 - Rabbit burrows in the cliffs above Carnoon Bay (ÂŠ B. Dolan).
Rabbits were originally introduced to Ireland and presumably Lambay Island by the Anglo-Normans (Butler 1989) and have clearly had a long-term impact on the island landscape, although population levels have fluctuated. Very little research has been carried out on the biases created by the excavation of archaeological material by rabbits (although see Barclay 1994). The best conditions for their burrows consist of areas of light sandy soil with few rocks (Harting 1986, 60). Only the western shore of Lambay, where there is a thin north-south band of sandy raised beach material, offers this ideal environment. This can be seen particularly in the area bordered by the two harbour walls where there is a profusion of burrows. Conversely, there is an absence of burrows along Beach 2 (Fig. 4) due to the shallow, stony nature of the soil (Fig. 3). 4
At the tip of ‘The Point’ (Fig. 1) this changes and there are numerous rabbit excavations running on, above and a little back from the shoreline, from here to Bishop’s Bay (Fig. 4). There are also plentiful burrows along the shore at Beach 1, while the coast of Scotch Point, where the soil is thinner and rockier, boasts few (Fig. 3). The northern and eastern coastlines of the island are high and rocky and only support sporadic rabbit activity. The interior of the island also has varying patterns of rabbit disturbance. In the upland eastern portion of the island burrows are spread randomly wherever soil cover is thick enough and the soil not too rocky. Fields used for grazing cattle, mainly located in the lowland western area of the island, have only slight visible rabbit activity. In general, sporadic burrow activity occurs over much of the island with particularly dense concentrations near the harbour and along the coastal till cliffs (e.g. Fig. 2). Where the soil cover is thin, in particularly stony areas or in flat areas where cattle can graze, burrows are absent or much less dense. The effect of all this rabbit activity at the level of individual artefacts is unclear. Rabbits certainly move artefacts (see Barclay 1994, 6-7) and the tendency of rabbit burrows to be located on slopes may indicate that down-slope movement is important. In most cases it is thought that the spatial disturbance caused by burrowing does not have a significant effect beyond the local level. On Lambay the areas where down-slope movement is likely to have been most acute are the steep coastal cliffs. An important point to note is that the soils favoured by rabbits are the light, well-drained soils also likely to have been favoured for human settlement during prehistory.
Figure 3 - Beach 2. Note its stony nature and the lack of any rabbit activity in the thin stony soil at the edge of the beach (© B. Dolan).
A significant number of artefacts were collected from a small number of beach sections exposed by wave action. Coastal erosion has exposed sections of raised beach/midden material at Beaches 1, 3 and 7 (Fig. 4), all of which have produced stone tools. Artefacts from these sections appear to be in situ in midden deposits and are unlikely to have been subjected to the spatial displacement affecting artefacts from other erosive contexts.
Cattle erosion did not expose a large number of artefacts. Churned up cattle tracks occur in only a few places and were not important findspots; a few finds were found in areas of broken ground at field gates, around the cattle sheds and at a seasonal watering spot to the east of Knockbane. One significant exception to this rule was ‘Assemblage 10’ (see Fig. 6), a large collection of artefacts recovered over a number of years from one cattle scrape which also displayed some rabbit activity (Dolan 2005). Although none of the artefacts analysed were from freshly ploughed contexts, a substantial number of the artefacts collected came from once-ploughed areas. At the time of collection these had not been under tillage for a number of decades (Gabriel Cooney pers. comm.). Indeed, many of the areas of the island that have produced finds may never have been ploughed at all. It is not known to what extent the island was ploughed in prehistory but there is clear evidence that it was under tillage in the medieval period. One findspot produced a medieval plough pebble (Fig. 1); these have been associated with medieval ridge and furrow cultivation (see O'Kelly 1976, Brady 1988). A small excavation prior to the installation of a new windmill in the Windmill Field (Fig. 1) revealed evidence for ploughing using a horse drawn metal plough, in the form of scrapes on a rock under the soil (Cooney and Byrnes 2001, 4). All of the evidence for ploughing, as might be expected, is concentrated in the western half of the island in the area with the best soil coverage. Ploughing much of the eastern upland areas would not have been easy, although the improved nature of the upland field to the east of Knockbane (Fig. 1) may indicate it has been ploughed in the past. It is important to recognise the effects of previous ploughing episodes on some areas of the island as artefacts from these areas may have seen extensive disturbance and mixing. It is also important to recognise that ploughing does not completely destroy or homogenise the archaeological record, patterns of association still exist (Steinberg 1996, 368). The island was heavily cultivated in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and the evidence for this can be found all over the island in the remains of field boundaries and cultivation ridges. The ridges are the result of spade cultivation and although no detailed research has been done, it is thought likely that this method of farming would have resulted in the movement of artefacts both laterally and down slope. Spade cultivation can certainly destroy archaeological features, as was discovered during excavations on the Neolithic axe quarry and production site (Cooney 2005, 19, 27). Despite the localised effect of cultivation it is likely that if broader patterns in the archaeological record can survive ploughing then they can also survive this method of agriculture.
METHODOLOGY Analysis of the surface collection from Lambay Island required a tailored approach that took into account the nature of the evidence, its strengths and its shortcomings. The unusual taphonomy and circumstances of collection meant that there were no existing methodological models to work from; as a result a fresh approach was devised. A variety of techniques were used, including a beach pebble survey, the analysis of individual artefacts within a database, the aggregation of finds into ‘assemblages’ and finally the interpretation of these assemblages through the use of statistical analysis and a GIS integrated with the database. 6
A GIS was created for two reasons. Firstly, it allowed the easy creation of a wide variety of maps from the data entered into the database and secondly it served as an invaluable interpretive tool allowing instant visual interpretation of multiple database queries. Unfortunately, getting to this stage of integration was not as simple as it first appeared. Analyses of surface collections in the past have run into a major problem when attempting to define ‘sites’ to be plotted onto maps (see Schofield 1991a). ‘Sites’ have been defined as dense clusters of artefacts occurring against a low density ‘background’ (Schofield 1991c, 4). Difficulties arise in defining how many artefacts are needed for a site to be ‘high density’ and how to identify spatial limits. A concern with ‘sites’ can also lead to ignorance of the wider landscape. In the Lambay analysis an attempt was made to avoid the pitfalls of earlier work; ideally, artefacts would have been plotted individually avoiding the problems inherent in assigning artefacts to sites (see Holdaway et al., 1998). Unfortunately, the spatial information available for the collection was too variable to allow this approach so a new technique was required.
Figure 4 - 1937 OS 6” map showing the confidence levels of different sites and the beaches mentioned in the text. (© Ordnance Survey Ireland/Government of Ireland Copyright Permit No. MP 003406).
Artefacts were grouped according to the spatial information available. Where artefacts were found in the same spot in different years they were included in one assemblage and the assemblage was given a number. If only one artefact was found in any one spot then this would also be termed an assemblage and assigned a number. A way was needed to illustrate the varying accuracy of the locational information for different assemblages and for this reason each assemblage was assigned a confidence level between 1 and 7 (Fig. 2; Fig. 5). These levels give an idea of how well known the find location of each artefact was and how likely it was that artefacts in particular assemblages were associated. Associations between artefacts were at best considered to be spatial and not chronological or stratigraphical. 7
Criteria Finds likely to be associated with each other. Location certain. Located using handheld GPS to specific grid co-ordinates or located to within a few metres on the map. Finds likely to be associated with each other. Location not entirely certain. Plotted on a field map but not close to landmarks. Finds possibly associated with each other. Located to a specific locale. A central grid co-ordinate has been set for the locale. Finds may not have come from this exact spot but from no more than tens of metres away. Finds unlikely to be associated with each other. Located to a general area on the island (For example a field or a hill slope). A central grid co-ordinate has been set for finds from this area but it is not known where exactly they were picked up. Finds unlikely to be associated with each other. Located to a specific area of a beach, fresh finds. These finds are likely to have been eroded from the shoreline nearby. Re-deposited material. For example finds located to a beach and very rolled or finds from paths which have been renewed with material from beaches. No spatial information
Figure 5 - Criteria for assigning confidence levels to different assemblages.
Maps were created using ArcGIS 9.1. The basic building block of the maps created within the GIS was a scanned image of the 1937 O.S. 6” map for Lambay, which was rectified to the Irish national grid. The image was rectified using mapped points taken with a GPS accurate to the nearest centimetre. Next, individual maps were customised by linking tables generated within the database to the GIS. This facilitated the display of multiple aspects of the data. Other layers of information could also be easily added, such as aerial photographs and a variety of other information layers. One week was spent surveying the accessible beaches on Lambay to assess their relative value as sources of flint (Dolan 2005, Chapter 5). Though not directly relevant to resolving the taphonomic issues discussed here, the survey was very useful in identifying sources for raw materials on the island. This helped in the interpretation of densities of materials across the island, informing the identification of taphonomic, natural and social processes affecting the distribution of lithics across the island.
DISCUSSION Data from ‘open sites’ has an inherent suite of problems relating to stratigraphy, definition and chronology. These issues have been called the ‘ploughzone paradox’; there is a great deal of evidence but it lacks context from which chronology and associations can be discerned (Steinberg 1996). Other issues relate to taphonomic processes including cultivation and erosion (see above) and it is clear that aggregations of materials found on the surface cannot be simply equated with deposition in prehistory (Allen 1991). It is likely, however, that at a large, wholeisland scale, measured in thousands of metres, valid patterns in the distribution of artefacts will be identifiable (Holdaway et al., 1998, 2).
It is not clear to what extent the taphonomic processes described above have influenced the distribution of finds across Lambay Island. Certainly it seems that wherever erosion is occurring artefacts have been found. The concentration of rabbit burrows on slopes, especially around the western and southern coast, has probably at least contributed to higher densities of finds in these areas, while the lack of burrows and other forms of erosion over most of the western lowland area has led to blank spots on the distribution map (Fig. 6). It is important, however, to note that at gates and other areas of localised erosion within these ‘blank’ spots artefacts are invariably found. Excavations in the Windmill field produced flint artefacts in test pits with fifteen flints occurring fairly evenly along a cable trench 300m long (Cooney and Byrnes 2001). This suggests that the real distribution of artefacts is widespread and the empty spaces on the map are the result of differential erosion.
Figure 6 - Elevation map showing the density of finds across the island (© B. Dolan).
The upland, eastern, area of the island has a more random distribution of findspots and a few blank areas. The random finds probably reflect the distribution of rabbit burrows and for obvious reasons, only occur in areas with reasonably thick soil cover. Three eastern areas have a noticeably low level of finds; Heath Hill, Thorn Chase Valley and the area north of a line between Assemblage 10 and Pilot Hill (Fig. 4). These ‘blank’ areas are curious as they have significant areas of soil cover and access to fresh water at Raven’s well and the stream emptying into Freshwater Bay, therefore they are likely to have been attractive places in prehistory. The absence of finds may be explained by any of a number of factors; a lack of deposition in prehistory; a lack of modern erosion; differential visibility due to vegetation (see Bevan and Conolly 2002-2004, 127) or a tendency not to collect in these areas, especially as these are the least frequented areas on the island. It may be significant that these areas are quite far away from the western beaches identified as the most abundant sources of flint during the pebble survey (Dolan 2005). Density can be related to areas where access to supply zones is available (Schofield 1991c, 4) and it seems logical to expect a generalised fall off in deposition of flint the farther away from the source an area is. A significant exception to this trend was Assemblage 10, a 9
concentration of chipped stone unique on the island with 123 artefacts (nineteen per cent of the entire collection). Finds collected in a ploughzone survey are thought to represent between two per cent and five per cent of the total artefact population in the ploughsoil at any one time (Shott 1995). While similar estimates are not available for the context in which Assemblage 10 was collected, it is likely that it is representative of a much larger subsurface assemblage. This suggestion is certainly supported by the fact that the small area excavated by Cooney in the location of the axe quarry has produced in the region of 12,000 flint artefacts (Gabriel Cooney pers. comm.). Clearly the taphonomic processes in play on Lambay were significant in shaping the surface scatter considered here. Differential erosion has caused blank spots on the map and the preferences of rabbits have contributed to the particularly high densities of artefacts collected along the southern and western coast of the island. Localised movement of artefacts through rabbit burrowing, spade cultivation, cattle erosion and ploughing have also displaced and distorted many of the artefacts plotted on the distribution map. Recognition of these processes and their effects was extremely important in interpreting the results (Dolan 2005) but the most important conclusion to be drawn from this brief consideration is that valid archaeological patterns are likely to have survived them. With careful and considered interpretation these patterns can be identified. The high density of artefacts in certain areas of the island, for example, may be exaggerated by the predilections of rabbits, but artefacts cannot be exposed if they are not already there. For this reason alone the observed pattern has some archaeological relevance. Blank areas on the distribution maps can be treated with more suspicion, a lack of erosion in an area does not necessarily equate to a scarcity of prehistoric activity, but equally it does not imply abundance.
CONCLUSIONS Interpretation of surface artefact scatters is tricky at the best of times but particularly when dealing with material affected by unknown quantities, such as spade cultivation and rabbit excavation. The methodology outlined attempted to maximise the potential of the data to reveal archaeological patterns. A deeper understanding of the varied processes affecting surface assemblages would increase the likelihood of identifying which patterns are the result of past human actions and which are the result of postdeposition processes. Valuable research has already been carried out in Scotland, concentrating on the structural damage caused by rabbits on archaeological sites (see Barclay 1994, Dunwell and Trout 1999), but a focus on rabbits impact on artefacts before, during and after exposure is needed. Further research into rabbit taphonomy will hopefully inform us about the activities of other burrowing animals, such as moles, who are also known to excavate the odd flint flake (Warren 2001, 68). Similarly there is a reference to burrowing puffins on Lambay (Seymour 1896, 186). While rabbits were a particularly significant factor in the case of Lambay Island it is possible that further understanding of the effects of spade cultivation would be much more significant in a wider Irish context. Spade cultivation has been widely used throughout Ireland (Whelan 1997), particularly in the west, and will have directly impacted on a huge proportion of Irelandâ€™s archaeological heritage, particularly at the level of individual artefacts. While the obstacles to archaeological interpretation of surface scatters have been the central theme of this paper it is important to end optimistically. Though surface scatters, particularly those not systematically
collected, can be difficult to deal with they still have the potential to tell stories about past peoples, their landscapes and their lives.
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I would like to extend my gratitude to all those who have helped during my research on Lambay. In the UCD School of Archaeology particular thanks go to Professor Gabriel Cooney and my supervisor, Dr. Graeme Warren, who read and provided valuable comments on this paper. Also to Dr. Rob Sands for his patient help with all things computerised. Kerri Cleary has to be thanked for successfully organising an extremely impressive conference and succeeding in bringing the proceedings to publication, both are exceedingly difficult tasks. I would also like to thank Patrick, Margaret and Beatrice Kelly and the Lambay Island Trust for permission to work on the island. Finally thanks to Serena and to my family and friends who were a constant support throughout the MA.
BIBLIOGRAPHY Allen, M. J. 1991. Analysing the landscape: a geographical approach to archaeological problems. In A.J. Schofield (ed.) Interpreting Artefact Scatters: Contributions to Ploughzone Archaeology. Oxford, 39-57. Barclay, G. 1994. Earthwork erosion in eastern Scotland. In A. Berry and I. Brown (eds) Erosion on Archaeological Earthworks: Its Prevention, Control and Repair. Clwyd, 25-28. Bevan, A. and Conolly, J. 2002-2004. GIS, archaeological survey, and landscape archaeology on the island of Kythera, Greece. Journal of Field Archaeology, 29, 123-138. Brady, N. D. K. 1988. The plough pebbles of Ireland. Tools and Tillage 6, 47-60. Butler, V. 1989. Animal bones in archaeology. Archaeology Ireland 3, 104-107. Cooney, G. 1990. The Mount Oriel Project: an introduction. Journal of the County Louth Archaeological And Historical Society 22, 125-133. Cooney, G. 1998a. Breaking stones, making places. In A. Gibson and D.D.A. Simpson (eds) Prehistoric Ritual and Religion. Stroud, 108-118. Cooney, G. 1998b. Lambay Island. In I. Bennett (ed.) Excavations 1997. Dublin, 57-8. Cooney, G. 2000a. Lambay Island. In I. Bennett (ed.) Excavations 1999. Dublin, 88. Cooney, G. 2000b. Lambay Island. In I. Bennett (ed.) Excavations 1998. Dublin, 62-4. Cooney, G. 2005. Stereo porphry: quarrying and deposition on Lambay Island, Ireland. In P. Topping and M. Lynott (eds) The Cultural Landscape of Prehistoric Mines. Oxford, 14-29. Cooney, G. Forthcoming. The role of islands in defining identity and regionality during the Neolithic: the Dublin coastal group. In G. Barclay and K. Brophy (eds) Regional Diversity in the Neolithic of Britain and Ireland. Oxford. Cooney, G. and Byrnes, E. 2001. Archaeological Test Excavation and Monitoring on Lambay Island, Co. Dublin, Department of Archaeology, UCD. Unpublished Report. Dolan, B. 2005. An Analysis of the Surface Flint Assemblage from Lambay Island, Co. Dublin. Unpublished MA Thesis, University College Dublin. Dunnell, R. C. and Simek, J. F. 1995. Artifact size and ploughzone process. Journal of Field Archaeology 22, 305-319. Dunwell, A. J. and Trout, R. C. 1999. Burrowing Animals and Archaeology, Historic Scotland Technical Advice Note 16. Green, S. W. and Zvelebil, M. 1990. The Mesolithic colonization and agricultural transition of south-east Ireland. Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society 56, 57-88.
Guinan, B. P. 1992. Ploughzone Archaeology in North Dublin: The Evidence from a Lithic Collection and Fieldwalking Survey. Unpublished MA Thesis, University College Dublin. Harting, J. E. 1986. The Rabbit, Southampton. Herity, M. J. 1982. Irish decorated Neolithic pottery. Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy 82c, 247-404. Hodgers, D. 1994. The Salterstown surface collection project. Journal of the County Louth Archaeological And Historical Society 23, 240-268. Holdaway, S., Witter, D., Fanning, P., Musgrave, R., Cochrane, G., Doelman, T., Greenwood, S., Pidgon, D. and Reeves, J. 1998. New approaches to open site spatial archaeology in Sturt National Park, New South Wales, Australia. Archaeology in Oceania 33, 1-19. Macalister, R. A. S. 1929. On some antiquities discovered upon Lambay Island. Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy 38c, 240-246. Mitchell, G. F. 1946. Unpublished notebook. O'Kelly, M. J. 1976. Plough pebbles from the Boyne Valley. In C. Ó Danachaír (ed.) Folk and Farm: essays in honour of A. T. Lucas. Dublin, 165-176. Peterson, J. D. 1990. From foraging to food production in south-east Ireland: some lithic evidence. Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society 56, 89-99. Rynne, E. 1976. The La Tène and Roman Finds from Lambay, Co. Dublin: a re-assessment. Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy 76c, 231-44. Schofield, A. J. (ed.) 1991a. Interpreting Artefact Scatters: Contributions to Ploughzone Archaeology, Oxford. Schofield, A. J. 1991b. Artefact distributions as activity areas: examples from south-east Hampshire. In A.J. Schofield (ed.) Interpreting Artefact Scatters: Contributions to Ploughzone Archaeology. Oxford, 117-128. Schofield, A. J. 1991c. Interpreting artefact scatters: an introduction. In A.J. Schofield (ed.) Interpreting Artefact Scatters: Contributions to Ploughzone Archaeology. Oxbow Monograph 4, Oxford, 3-8. Seymour, H. J. 1896. Excursions of Dublin Naturalists Field Club to Lambay. The Irish Naturalist 5, 185-186. Seymour, H. J. 1907. Geology of Lambay. The Irish Naturalist 16, 3-13. Shott M. J. 1995. Reliability of archaeological records on cultivated surfaces: a Michigan case study. Journal of Field Archaeology 22, 475-490. Steinberg, J. M. 1996. Ploughzone sampling in Denmark: isolating and interpreting site signatures from disturbed contexts. Antiquity 70, 368-392. Stillman, C. 1994. Lambay, an ancient volcanic island in Ireland. Geology Today 62, 62-67. Warren, G. M. 2001. Towards a social archaeology of the mesolithic in eastern Scotland: landscapes, contexts and experience. Unpublished Ph.D Thesis, University of Edinburgh. Whelan, K. 1997. The modern landscape: from plantation to present. In F.H.A. Aalen, K. Whelan and M. Stout (eds) Atlas of the Irish Rural Landscape. Cork, 67-103. Woodman, P. 1978. The Mesolthic in Ireland: Hunter-Gatherers in an Insular Environment, BAR British Series 58, Oxford.
Some Findings From a Settlement in Leinster.
Neil Carlin The advent of Beaker pottery and its associated material culture signifies key changes in European society, however, its origins, method of distribution and social significance remain a bone of contention. A vast amount of new archaeological data concerning Beaker-related activities in Ireland has been generated by the increase in development led excavations. Much of this information remains unsynthesised, despite its potential to advance Beaker studies at a European-wide level. This paper will outline some of the findings from a study of the published and unpublished information from Leinster.
INTRODUCTION Development led excavations within the Leinster region have produced a high number of Beaker settlement sites. Most of these sites have not yet been published and until recently, no synthesis of them has been carried out. This paper will outline some of the findings from a study of the published and unpublished Beaker settlement sites from Leinster (Carlin 2005). A brief outline of the Beaker phenomenon in Ireland will be followed by an examination of some of the difficulties encountered and the methodologies utilised to overcome these. This will be followed by an exposition of some of the findings of the research. A model of understanding for Beaker settlement will be presented and this will illustrate that this settlement pattern is in keeping with that of the Neolithic. The implications of this evidence for existing explanations of the emergence of Beaker ‘culture’ and associated social change in Ireland will be outlined. Beaker pottery is an essential aspect of a recurrent complex of material culture consisting of copper daggers, stone wristguards, arrowheads, v-perforated buttons and a distinctive burial rite that rapidly spread throughout Europe circa 2500 BC (Shennan 1986, 138). The advent of Beakers signifies key changes in European society, yet its exact origins, method of distribution and social significance remains matters of debate. Numerous theories have been proposed to explain the spread of Beaker pottery and its relationship with contemporary social and technological change. Invading warriors, small immigrant groups, gypsy traders, international exchange and a cult package have all been proposed as possible mediums for the dispersal of the Beaker complex (Clarke 1970, 271; Harrison 1980; Burgess and Shennan 1976). Its emergence is currently considered to indicate the development of a more hierarchical and individualistic society, whereby status was attained and represented by the competitive exchange and display of exotic goods (e.g. Needham 2004, 218; Thorpes and Richards 1984, 70). Beaker ‘culture’ is also thought to be the medium through which Atlantic-Europeans acquired the technological know-how required for the earliest copper metallurgy (Scott 1977a; 1977b, Sheridan 1983) Excavations at Ross Island have confirmed that people using Beaker pottery undertook
the earliest copper metallurgy in Ireland (O’Brien 2005). This is in keeping with other European regions including France (ibid., 557). The Irish manifestation of this complex differs from elsewhere because stereotypical Beaker burials are rare, while settlements are comparatively common* (Case 1995, 19; O’Brien 2005). No original model has ever been proposed to explain the presence of Beakers in Ireland in terms of its manner of distribution or its social significance. As a result, British and European models have been abstracted from their context and projected onto the Irish evidence (e.g. O’Brien 2005; Cooney and Grogan 1999, 78; Waddell 1998, 123). This is inherently problematic as it is based upon the assumption that the Irish evidence is similar to that of Britain. Early Bronze Age studies have traditionally concentrated on artefacts and ceremonial and funerary practises as opposed to settlement (see Woodman 1992, 310). No synthesis of Irish Beaker associated settlement has been undertaken and it has been considered that the distribution of settlement evidence was highly restricted (O’Brien 2005, 480, Brindley 1995, 6). The high level of Beaker settlement evidence that has recently been added to the Irish archaeological record offers the opportunity to examine the everyday context in which Beakers were used. It serves as a very useful counterpoint to other European Beaker studies, which have been forced, by a lack of such data, to focus almost completely on mortuary contexts.
PROBLEMS ENCOUNTERED & METHODOLOGY EMPLOYED The main aim of the research was to synthesise new and unpublished information regarding Beaker settlement in Leinster. Three sites from outside the region were also included in the study in order to assess the extent to which the evidence from Leinster could be considered representative of the entire island. A number of difficulties were encountered in the course of this research and it is necessary to briefly allude to these in order that the reader may understand the limitations of the findings from this study and the reasons for the various methodologies employed. The fact that the vast majority of the sites within this study are from recent and unpublished excavations entailed that the degree of completion of final reports was variable and this had a major impact on the amount of analysis that could be undertaken. Any attempt to compare the findings from various different sites was inherently problematic due to variations in the methods of excavation, the sampling strategies used and the quality of analysis within the specialist reports. A lot of the sites in the study are multi-period and thus it was necessary to examine the context of the Beaker finds from each site in order to select those features which could be considered to have definitive Beaker associations and not representative of a preceding or succeeding period of activity. This selection process greatly narrowed the range of finds and features available to be synthesised.
The ephemeral nature of Beaker settlement remains was another problem to overcome. Traditionally, one expects a settlement to include a structure, but increasingly it is being recognised that the survival of structural evidence is dependent upon the architectural technology used and the level of preservation enjoyed (Grogan 1996, 51, Gibson 1992, 41, Bradley 1970, Simpson 1971, 140). While some structures have been found in association with Beakers (see below), the absence of a readily identifiable house should not lead one to the conclusion that evidence for settlement is lacking. The typical Irish Beaker occupation site consists of spreads, pits and postholes that often lack any recognisable pattern; a characteristic which previously gave rise to theories that Beaker using populations were largely mobile and their settlement pattern, transient and seasonal (e.g. Whittle 1997, 19; Childe 1940, 98; Hodges 1957). To assess site and settlement stability and to overcome the problems with the dataset, a methodological approach was employed, which created a hypothetical model detailing all of the possible characteristics of a long-term stable occupation site. These characteristics consisted of the following: a wide range of tools; a high modified tool ratio (as a percentage of the total chipped stone assemblage); evidence of cereal cultivation in the form of carbonised cereal grains and quernstones; burnt mounds and/or associate trough; pits and postholes; hearths; metalled surfaces; burnt flint; burnt and unburnt animal bone and hammer stones. Most of these categories are self-explanatory and are arguably good indicators of prolonged activity. The â€˜high modified tools ratioâ€™ category refers to the total number of modified chipped stone tools as a percentage of the total Beaker lithic assemblage from a site. Studies have argued that a percentage of between ten and fifteen per cent are indicative of a highly residential element (see Schofield 1991). Thus, the occurrence of a high number of the above characteristics in contemporaneous contexts on a site would be indicative of a long-term residential occupancy. This is so because many of these features are indicative of a substantial investment of energy and time and one would not expect to find these on a site that had not been used for a substantial single phase of occupation. Given that only those features proven to be definitively Beaker were included in the study, it can be assumed that many of these were indeed contemporaneous. Every site in the study was given a score of 1 or 0 based upon the presence or absence of each of these categories. There was no weighting of the scores and each was deemed to be of equal value. These figures were added up to achieve a total score for each site, those sites with high scores were considered to be a long term residence with a high level of settlement stability, while those sites with low scores were regarded as being representative of short term activities. This methodology is highly imperfect as each site has suffered from different taphonomic processes, however, the fact that the list of characteristics is so wide does serve to counteract against this problem. This test cannot reveal what sort of settlement each site is, but it does enable some broad conclusions to be achieved about the degree of settlement stability on any site. The results of this test are detailed below.
WIDESPREAD DISTRIBUTION OF BEAKERS IN IRELAND Traditionally, Beaker material culture was considered to be predominantly restricted to the northern half of the island except for a few locations at the Bend of the Boyne and at Lough Gur (Waddell 1998, 116, Harbison 1979). Case (2001, 375) suggested that Beaker associated artefacts such as barbed and tanged and hollow-based arrowheads and wristguards indicate that Beaker ‘culture’ may have been much more prevalent and widespread in Ireland than previously accepted (ibid., 375). The increase in developmentled excavation has resulted in the discovery of a much greater number and wider range of Beaker sites and has served to confirm this hypothesis. Previously, the only known settlement sites in Leinster were Newgrange, Knowth, Monknewtown, Dalkey Island and Broomfield. This survey added a further twenty-six sites to the list (O’Kelly et al. 1983; O’Brien 1988; Liversage 1968; Eogan and Roche 1997; Sweetman 1976). There are dense distributions of Beaker sites along the western, southern and eastern coasts (Fig 1). It can now be stated that Beaker settlement in Ireland was widespread and appears to have been so from the earliest emergence of Beakers onwards.
Figure 1 – Distribution of Beakers in Ireland (courtesy of Eoin Grogan).
LOCATION OF BEAKER SETTLEMENTS The study revealed that most Beaker occupation sites are located between 6m and 120m above sea level, within 8kms of the coast and within 1km of a river. Sites were most commonly found in slightly undulating topography on south and southeast facing slopes. A clear preference was observed for free draining fertile soils such as Brown Earths and Grey Brown Podzolics that could be used for either pasture or tillage. These same patterns have also been identified in Britain (Bamford 1982, 31; Clarke 1970; Scott 1977b, 9). Settlements were very deliberately situated in order to exploit as large a variety of biospheres as possible. This is clearly demonstrated by the cluster of Beaker sites that are located amongst the foothills of the Dublin Mountains (Carlin 2005, 36). Land quality, proximity to fresh water and timber for building and as a heat source, appropriate stone resources and the suitability of the local topography in terms of farmability and accessibility would all have been important factors that influenced prehistoric peoples choices regarding location of settlement (Grogan 1996, 48). Grogan (ibid.) also stresses the importance of social and cultural factors such as proximity to relatives and allies as well as access to sites of ceremonial and religious importance.
THE BEAKER SETTLEMENT PATTERN The test for residential stability revealed a substantial degree of variability in the settlement pattern. There are sites that display strong evidence for sedentism, but this does not serve to deny the mobility of people at this time. There is much evidence for what would appear to be short-term camps, but there is also clear evidence for the use of permanent farmsteads. The best suggestion is that there was a spectrum ranging from mobile to sedentary, with various combinations of the two being practised in tandem. Based on this, it can be stated that a wide range of subsistence practices appear to have been employed at this time. Sites that exhibited strong evidence for long-term stable settlement and a wide range of activities were excavated at Rathdown, Co. Wicklow (Eogan and Oâ€™Brien 2005); Cloghers II, Co. Kerry (Kiely forthcoming a and b); Roughan Hill, Co. Clare (Jones 1998); Kilgobbin, Co Dublin (Hagen forthcoming b); Laughanstown Site 78, Co. Dublin (Seaver forthcoming); Ahanagloch, Co. Waterford (Tierney forthcoming); Mell, Co. Meath (McQuade 2005) and Newgrange, Co. Meath (Oâ€™Kelly et al. 1983). Some Beaker settlement sites have produced evidence that is suggestive of either short term or peripheral task specific activities. It is possible these indicate some level of seasonal movement of people and livestock, or that they represent short-stay camps that may have been visited repeatedly for extraction and acquisition. Those short term sites, such as Charlesland, Co. Wicklow (Molloy 2004; Phelan 2004) and Beaverstown, Co Dublin (Hagen forthcoming a) are in close proximity to the east coast where beach pebble flint is readily accessible and are likely to have functioned as flint extraction sites. Locally obtained pebble flint was used in the Beaker lithic industry, almost to the complete exclusion of imported chalk flint and this is likely to have led to the creation of task-specific sites such as these. Other short-term sites appear to have been associated primarily with ritual or funerary activity such as Corbally, Co. Kildare
(Purcell 2002), Hill of Rath, Co. Louth (Duffy 2002) and Broomfield, Co. Dublin (O’Brien 1988).
Figure 2 - Location of Beaker sites in relation to geographical features in North Wicklow, Dublin, Meath and Louth. (prepared by Eoin Grogan).
Based on the evidence to date, it would appear that Beaker settlements were dispersed rather than nucleated (Carlin 2005). In this regard, the Newgrange site and other similar sites can be understood to be the product of settlement drift and to represent the remains of prolonged settlement by a small group. This finding is consistent with that from the rest of the Beaker world, where settlements are thought to have been small and dispersed (Case 2004, 22; Clarke 1976, 475). This form of settlement implies a certain level of aggregation at certain points of the year for exchange, marriage, formation and maintenance of social networks through marriage, feasting and deposition (Pollard 1999, 87) and thus, it is likely that these dispersed settlements occurred in clusters of closely spaced farmsteads surrounded by nearby funerary and ritual monuments. This hypothesis is supported by the archaeological remains from Lough Gur, Co. Limerick, the results of the landscape survey at Roughan Hill, Co. Clare and by the cluster of sites in south Dublin (O’Ríordáin 1954; Grogan and Eogan 1987; Jones 1998). In south Dublin, for 18
example (Fig 2), there is a ribbon of Beaker sites along the lower slopes of the foothills of the mountains at Dalkey Island, Cherrywood, Laughanstown, Laughanstown Site 78 and Site 79, Carrickmines, Carrickmines Site 63, Kilgobbin, Newtown Little, Taylorsgrange, and Rocklands, the combination of which testify to a period of intense occupation (see Carlin 2005). The frequent river inlets such as the Loughlinstown and Shanganagh rivers would have provided communication routes for people travelling from the sea inland. Surrounding these sites are the wedge tombs at Shankill, Laughanstown, Kilmashogue, Carrickgolligan and Ballyedmonduff. Furthermore, a number of cup-marked stones were found in low-lying areas during archaeological investigations along the South Eastern motorway (Seaver and Keeley forthcoming). These are considered Late Neolithic/ Early Bronze Age in date and are usually found in close proximity to settlements (Bradley 1995, 92). Cup marks have also been identified on a stone at Ballyedmonduff wedge tomb (Corlett 1999, 110).
EXPANSION OF SETTLEMENT Cooney and Grogan (1999, 105) suggest that a major change occurred in settlement patterns after the Final Neolithic, whereby expansion occurred in tandem with an increase in population in the Early Bronze Age. This may be a result of the deterioration of land in heavily exploited areas and the development of economic strategies that allowed wetter lands to be farmed as a result of technological improvement (Grogan 1996). It is plausible that this expansion actually began in association with the use of Beaker pottery, whereby occupation extended along the rivers into more lowland and upland areas. This is indicated by an increase in the number of megalithic tombs, in the form of wedge tombs, in the south and west of Ireland (Oâ€™Brien 1999, 275) and by the strong evidence for an increase in the number of burnt mounds being constructed at this time. Furthermore, Beakers have been consistently found in areas that only produced evidence of being used for human activities in the Early Neolithic and the Late Bronze Age, both of which seem to have been periods that saw widespread settlement expansion. An example of this is provided by Ballynagilly, Co. Tyrone, where palynological evidence indicates that renewed forest clearance occurred contemporaneously with a Beaker settlement in an area where tree growth had totally regenerated in the intervening period between the abandonment of an Early Neolithic site and the Beaker associated activity (Apsimon 1976).
BEAKER ECONOMY & DIET The study of Beaker settlement sites in Leinster revealed that mixed farming dominated the economy. Cereals were cultivated and barley was identified as being predominant over wheat. Animal husbandry was also undertaken, cattle outnumbered pigs and sheep and goat appeared to have been bred much more infrequently. The available zoological data did not permit more detailed conclusions to be made on this matter, such as evidence
of dairying, though Mount (1994) has argued in its favour and the results of lipid analysis in Britain have revealed that dairying was carried out from early Neolithic times onwards (Copeley et al. 2003). Gathered foods, including nuts and fruit, were recovered from a number of sites and this suggests that the locally available biomass was fully exploited. Evidence of hunting was not detected, but this may be due to biases created by the sampling and sieving strategies employed in the course of these excavations (see McCarthy 2000).
CONTINUITY OF NEOLITHIC SETTLEMENT PATTERNS It may be significant to note the similarities that exist between Neolithic and Beaker settlement patterns as indicated by the many parallels in terms of the generic location of habitations and the evidence for economy and diet. The location of Early Neolithic permanent settlements showed a preference for sites close to and overlooking rivers or lakes with freely draining Brown Earths and Grey Brown Podzolics, which could have been used for either pasture or tillage. The majority of sites also occur on gentle south to west facing slopes, literally the sunniest and driest locations in the landscape (Cooney and Grogan 1999, 46). Supporting evidence for this proposed continuity may be provided by the fact that the dominant Neolithic mortuary rite of cremation persisted in association with the use of Beakers and by the continued use of important settlement foci, such as Dalkey Island (Liversage 1968), Newgrange (Oâ€™Kelly et al. 1983; Sweetman 1985; Sweetman 1987) and Knowth (Eogan and Roche 1997). The unique aspect of the Beaker settlement pattern seems to show a clear preference for riverine and coastal locations, a characteristic that may be of great importance for understanding the emergence of the Beaker complex in Ireland.
BEAKER STRUCTURES Towards the end of the Early Neolithic (c. 3600 BC), architectural technology appears to have changed in tandem with the decline of the rectilinear structures. Buildings in the Middle Neolithic, Late Neolithic and Early Bronze Age were predominantly circular and appear to have been much less substantial constructions. It was not until the Middle Bronze Age that domestic architecture regained a strongly recognisable character with a durable footprint. The typical Beaker site in Ireland consists of occupational spreads, pits and postholes that lack any recognisable pattern, however, as discussed above, the presence of an identifiable structure should no longer be thought of as an essential aspect of a habitation site. The infrequency with which Late Neolithic/Early Bronze Age structures are found may be understood to be as a result of the fact that the architectural technology used in their construction was of a kind that often left little or no lasting footprint in the ground (see Gibson 1996, 138). Such an assertion is supported by the fact that rich settlement evidence has been found on sites with no readily identifiable houses. Furthermore, many of the flimsy structures that have been discovered, owe their survival to the differential levels of preservation afforded to them by certain forms of land-usage
and by the protection created by the construction of nearby upstanding monuments (see Gibson 1996, 137; Darvill 1996, 81). Despite the ephemeral nature of the surviving evidence, some examples have been found in Ireland and in the rest of the British Isles. In Britain these include the Beaker structures at Trelystan, Gwernvale, Gwithian, Hockwold cum Wilton and Northon (See Gibson 1987). Definite Irish examples include Ahanagloch, Co. Waterford; Newgrange, Co. Meath, and Newtownbalregan, Co. Louth (Tierney forthcoming; O’Kelly et al. 1983; Bayley 2005). Examples of structures that may be Beaker associated include Kilgobbin, Co. Dublin; Lough Gur structures C1, C2, C3, D2 and L, Co. Limerick; Piperstown, Co. Dublin and Cloghers, Co. Kerry (Hagen forthcoming b; Grogan and Eogan 1987, O’Ríordáin 1954, Rynne and O'hAéilidhe 1965; Kiely forthcoming a and b). Sizes range from 3.7m to 10m in diameter and the area of space within each structure varies from 11m² to 78m². In plan the structures tend to be circular, oval and rectangular. There appears, however, to be a preference for structures that are round, but we should be cognisant that the structural evidence is so partial that it is often impossible to postulate exactly what shape or form the extant structure would have had. The vast majority of these are between 5m and 6m in diameter and have areas of 19m² to 21m² (Carlin 2005). It has been argued that the formal hearths at Newgrange are indicative of the former location of a structure (Cooney and Grogan 1999, 80). One such structure had inner postholes that may have functioned as roof supports. Another house had an internal arc, posts and stakes. It was inferred from this that four distinct clusters of houses were present at Newgrange, each consisting of four houses that were 5-6m in diameter (ibid.). The evidence from Newgrange needs to be totally reassessed and thus there is little point in discussing the structural evidence in detail here (see Mount 1994; Eogan 1998, 308; Sweetman 1985; Brindley 1999). It has been argued that the structures at Site C and D, Lough Gur are in fact Beaker (Gibson 1987, 7). The architecture used is much more consistent with that of buildings from across the British Isles dating to the Late Neolithic, while proving inconsistent with Early Neolithic architecture. The early Neolithic pottery can be viewed as being residual and unrepresentative of the activities at sites C and D. Lough Gur represents yet another complex of prehistoric activity that is in need of re-evaluation in light of recent conclusions regarding Knockadoon Class II pottery and the dating of the stonewall enclosures, thus further discussion of this is also beyond the remit of this paper (see Roche 2004; Cleary 2003). Two forms of construction emerged as being somewhat typical and sharing in similarities with some of the British structures. A double ring of stakeholes, often with porched entrances, appears to have been a relatively common Late Neolithic structural type built by the users of Grooved Ware and Beakers**. Darvill (1996, 93) categorised this form of architecture as one of five Middle-Late Neolithic architectural types and lists the structures at Gwithian and Chippenham 5 as good examples of the genre. These structures occur in association with Beakers at structures I and II at Lough Gur site D and Structures I, II and III at Site C and at Ahanagloch, Co. Waterford.
A ring of seven or eight substantial posts appears to form another construction style. This technique is common in Early-Middle Bronze Age structures (Doody 2000; Carlin 2006). These may be comparable with the phase one post-framed building at Gwithian (Megaw 1976). Four of these structures were present at Cloghers, Co. Kerry and one was present at Newtownbalregan 5, Co. Louth (Kiely forthcoming a and b; Bayley 2005). Internal features such as pits and centrally located hearths are common features in buildings dating to the late third and early second millennia in Britain (Darvill 1996, 99; Gibson 1987). This is also the case in Ireland (see Carlin 2005). Hearths tend to be at the centre of Late Neolithic buildings and pits are a common internal feature.
THE IMPLICATIONS OF THE SETTLEMENT EVIDENCE This new evidence for settlement raises major questions about our existing understanding of the emergence of Beaker ‘culture’ in Ireland. It would appear that Beaker settlement was widespread and seems to have been so from the earliest emergence of Beakers onwards. Beakers were the main pottery type used in Ireland at this time and appear to have been used in daily life for a wide variety of purposes (see Case 1995, 26). Evidence to suggest that Beaker pottery was used in restricted contexts for ritual purposes prior to its employment in settlements is distinctly lacking. This suggests that the appearance of Beaker pottery in Ireland reflects the continuing adoption of novel ceramic ideas from overseas (see Sheridan 1995, 18). Beakers can be one of many new distinctive objects continually adopted throughout the Neolithic This may contradict any theories for the spread of Beakers based upon concepts of prestige and emulation, however, the type of chronological control needed to prove this is not currently available. Traditionally this period has been seen as a time of great change with much social upheaval. The advent of Beakers is often considered to herald the creation of a ranked individualistic society based on the achievement of power and status through the control and supply of exchangeable goods (Sheridan 1983, 17). Strong competition between the local elites to acquire and consume newer more exotic goods led to an increase in the creation of long distance exchange partners (Shennan 1982; Shennan 1986, 146). It has been suggested that there was a strong territorial awareness and a strict control of resources in the Final Neolithic/Early Bronze Age (O’Brien 2005, 565). This would suggest that conflict, strife and competition would have been common. When Beakers are placed into their Neolithic context, it can be seen that there is little evidence for abrupt and major social change occurring in tandem with the advent of this new ceramic. The Beaker associated settlement evidence demonstrates strong continuity with that of the Neolithic. No evidence was detected in my synthesis for the existence of a putative hierarchical elite or for conflict of any kind. This does raise questions about the extent to which both elites and conflict are identifiable within the archaeological record, but discussion of this matter is beyond the scope of this paper. It should be stated that the identification of Beakers with abrupt social upheaval is predominantly based upon mortuary evidence from certain parts of Europe, where an increase in single graves with
an associated assemblage of ‘rich’ grave goods is considered to indicate the rise of a wealthy elite. This view is problematic as it fails to give due recognition to the fact that mortuary practice often involves the deliberate manipulation of material culture to create an ideal view of an individual or to communicate a certain worldview. Thus, the extent to which mortuary practice can be viewed as reflective of contemporary society is limited. As outlined above, a clear preference for riverine and coastal locations was found to be characteristic of the Beaker associated settlement pattern. This bias appears to be unique to Beakers and is not characteristic of the Middle or Late Neolithic. This aspect of Beaker settlement may be crucial to developing our understanding of the Beaker phenomenon. The fact that Beaker associated settlement was predominantly located along the coastline and beside rivers may suggest that a proximity to routeways was important to the Beaker users. It has been argued that in prehistoric times it would have been much easier for traffic to travel along the sea than over land and that greater interaction existed between coastal dwellers than between landlocked groups (Waddell 1991, 31). The high level of coastal traffic, implicated by the wide dispersal of Irish copper into Northern and Western Britain, indicates that the east coast of Ireland would have been an essential calling point. This may serve to explain the widespread dispersal of Beaker settlement in this region. It is possible that exchange may have been a fundamental aspect of the settlement pattern. This is supported by the dispersed nature of many of the settlements and by the evidence for both sedentism and mobility. It has been proposed that regular seasonal small-scale movements for the purposes of subsistence, exchange and social gatherings resulted in the development of a Beaker interaction network and the adoption of Beaker ‘culture’ (Case 2004; Brodie 1997, 307; Sheridan 1983). It has been argued that intermarriage could have resulted in the widespread uptake of Beakers, as such a strategy would have been an important method of acquiring new technological knowledge, such as that necessary for copper metallurgy (Brodie 1997; Case 1995, 26; 1998).
CONCLUSION This brief review of some of the findings from a study of Beaker settlement in Leinster has not set out to deal with all aspects of the Beaker phenomenon in Ireland. Important issues such as how and why Beaker pottery emerged in Ireland have been barely touched upon. It is hoped, however, to have communicated the fact that Beaker settlement is widespread in Ireland and that a synthesis of this information has much to add to our understanding of the Beaker complex. A complete review of all aspects of Beakers in Ireland is much needed and it is imperative that any future attempt to attain a greater understanding of the emergence of Beakers in Ireland must involve a complete review of both the funerary and settlement evidence.
NOTES * It should be noted that this is somewhat of an over simplification largely based upon the view that the Classic Beaker inhumation is the dominant funerary rite in the British Isles. Recent studies cast doubt upon this (see Gibson 2004) and there is an ever-increasing body of evidence for Beaker mortuary practice in Ireland.
** While stake-hole structures leave a particularly ephemeral footprint, it should be borne in mind that this does not necessarily entail that the construction itself was flimsy (see Gibson 1996, 138).
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS This paper is based on M.A. research carried out in the School of Geography, Archaeology and Palaeoecology, Queens University Belfast in 2005 under the supervision of Prof. Jim Mallory, whom I am grateful to for his guidance. I would also like to thank Eoin Grogan for sharing his expertise. I am indebted to all the site directors, specialists and consultancies who shared their unpublished reports with me.
BIBLIOGRAPHY Apsimon, A. M. 1976. Ballynagilly and the beginning and end of the Irish Neolithic. In S. J. De Laet. (ed.) Acculturation and Continuity in Atlantic Europe mainly during the Neolithic period and Bronze Age. Brugge, 15-30. Bamford, H. 1982. Beaker Domestic Sites in the Fen Edge and East Anglia. East Anglian Archaeology Report No. 16, Norfolk. Bayley, D. 2005. Stratigraphic report of Excavations at site 112, Newtownbalregan. Unpublished Report, IAC Ltd. Bayley, D. 2005. Stratigraphic report of Excavations at site 112, Newtownbalregan. Unpublished Report, IAC Ltd. Bradley, R. 1970. Where Have All The Houses Gone? Some Approaches To Beaker Settlement. Current Archaeology 21, 264-6. Bradley, R. 1995. Making sense of prehistoric rock art. British Archaeology 9, 8-9. Brindley, A. L. 1995. Radiocarbon, chronology and the Bronze Age. In J. Waddell and E. Shee Twohig (eds) Ireland in the Bronze Age. Dublin, 4-13. Brindley, A. L. 1999. Irish Grooved Ware. In R. Cleal & A. MacSween (eds.), Grooved Ware in Britain and Ireland. Neolithic Studies group Seminar Papers 3. Oxford, 23-35. Brodie, N. J. 1997. New Perspectives on the Bell Beaker Culture. Oxford Journal of Archaeology 16, 297â€“314. Burgess, C. and Shennan, S. 1976. The Beaker Phenomenon: some suggestions. In C. Burgess and R. Miket (eds) Settlement and economy in the third and second millenia BC: papers delivered at a conference organised by the Department of Adult Education, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, B.A.R 33, Oxford, 309-331. Carlin, N. 2005. A Study of Beaker Settlement in Leinster. Unpublished MA Thesis, Queens University, Belfast. Carlin, N. 2006. M3 Research Report on Bronze Age Houses In Ireland. Unpublished Report for ACS Ltd on behalf of Meath County Council. Case, H.J. 1995. Irish Beakers in their European Context. In J. Waddell and E. Shee Twohig (eds) Ireland in the Bronze Age. Dublin, 14-29. Case, H.J. 1998. Ou en Sont Les Campaniformes de lâ€™autre cote de la Manche. Bulletin de la societe prehistorique Francaise 95, 403-11. Case, H.J. 2001. The Beaker Culture in Britain and Ireland: Groups, European Contacts and Chronology. In F. Nicolis (ed.) Bell Beakers Today. Pottery, people, culture, symbols in prehistoric Europe. Trento: Provincia Autonoma di Trento, Servizio Beni Culturali, Ufficio Beni Archaeologici, 361-77.
Case, H.J. 2004. Beakers and the Beaker Culture. In J. Czebresuk (ed.) Similar But Different: Bell Beakers in Europe. Poznan, 11-35. Childe, V.G. 1940. Prehistoric communities of the British Isles, London. Clarke, D.L. 1970. Beaker Pottery of Great Britain and Ireland, Cambridge. Clarke, D.L. 1976. The Beaker Network, social and economic models. In J.N. Lanting and J.D. van der Waals (eds) Glockenbechersymposium. Oberried. Bussum, 459-476. Cleary, R. 2003. Enclosed Late Bronze Age Habitation Site and Boundary Wall at Lough Gur, Co. Limerick. Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy 103C, 97-189. Cooney, G. and Grogan, E. 1999. Irish Prehistory: A Social Perspective, Dublin. Copeley, M.S., Berstan, R., Dudd, S.N., Docherty, G., Mukherjce, A.J., Straker, V., Payne, S. and Evershed, R.P. 2003. Direct chemical evidence for widespread dairying in Prehistoric Britain. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 100(4), 1524-29. Corlett, C. 1999. Antiquities of Old Rathdown: the archaeology of south County Dublin and North County Wicklow, Dublin. Darvill, T. 1996. Neolithic Buildings in England, Wales and the Isle of Man. In T. Darvill and J. Thomas (eds) Neolithic houses in Nortwest Europe and Beyond. Oxford, 76-111. Doody, M. 2000. Bronze Age houses in Ireland. In A. Desmond et al. (eds) New agendas in Irish Prehistory. Bray, 135-60. Duffy, C. 2002. Excavations in the Townlands of Mell and Hill of Rath. Unpublished Report, VJK Ltd. Eogan G. 1998. Homes and Homesteads in Bronze Age Ireland. In H. Bernhard (ed.), Man and Environment in European Bronze Age. Kiel, 307-26. Eogan, G. and Roche, H. 1997. Excavations at Knowth, 2, Royal Irish Academy monographs in archaeology 3, Dublin. Eogan, J, and O’Brien, R. 2005. Final Report of Excavations at Rathdown Upper, Greystones, Co. Dublin. Unpublished Report, ADS Ltd. Gibson, A. 1987. Beaker domestic sites across the North Sea: a Review. In Relations entre le Continent et les Isles Britanniques dans 1’Age du Bronze. Congrès Préhistorique de France, 1984, Actes du Colloque de Bronze de Lille, 7-15. Gibson, A. 1992. Approaches To The Later Neolithic and Bronze Age Settlement of Britain. In C. Mordant and A. Richard (eds) L’Habitat et L’Occupation Du Sol L’Age Du Bronze En Europe, Actes du Colloque International de Lons–le-Saunier. Paris, 41-48. Gibson, A. 1996. The Later Neolithic Structures at Trelystan, Powys, Wales: Ten Years on. In T. Darvill and J. Thomas (eds) Neolithic houses in Nortwest Europe and Beyond. Oxford, 133-141. Gibson, A. 2004. Burials and beakers: seeing beneath the veneer in Late Neolithic Britain. In J. Czebresuk (ed.) Similar but Difference: Bell beakers in Europe. Poznan, 173–92. Grogan, E and Eogan, G. 1987. Lough Gur Excavations by Sean. P. Ó Ríordáin: further Neolithic and Beaker Habitations on Knockadoon. Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy 87C, 229- 506. Grogan, E. 1996. Changing Places: settlement patterns in prehistory. The Other Clare 20, 48-52. Hagen, I. Forthcoming a. Excavations at Beaverstown, Co. Dublin Hagen, I. Forthcoming b. Excavations at Kilgobbin, Co. Dublin. Harbison, P. 1979. Who were Irelands first metallurgists? In M. Ryan (ed.) The Origins Of Metallurgy In Atlantic Europe, Proceedings Of The Fifth Atlantic Colloquium. Dublin, 97105. Harrison, R.J. 1980. The Beaker Folk. Copper Age Archaeology in Western Europe, London. Hodges, H.W.M. 1957. Braves, Beakers and Battle Axes. Antiquity 31, 142-6. Jones, C. 1998. Excavations of Mound Walls and an Associated Final Neolithic/Early Bronze Age Settlement on Roughan Hill, Co. Clare. Unpublished Report. Kiely, J. Forthcoming a. Cloghers II, Final Report. Eachtra Archaeological Projects.
Kiely, J. Forthcoming b. Cloghers II: Beaker and Bronze Age Summary. Liversage, G.D. 1968. Excavations at Dalkey Island, Co. Dublin, 1956-1959. Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy 66C, 53-233. McCarthy, M. 2000. Hunting, Fishing, and Fowling in Late prehistoric Ireland: the scarcity of the bone record. In A. Desmond et al. (eds) New agendas in Irish Prehistory. Bray, 107-19. Megaw, V. 1976. Gwithian, Cornwall: some notes on the evidence for Neolithic and Bronze Age Settlement. In C.B. Burgess and R Miket (eds) Settlement and Economy in the Third and Second Millennia BC. B.A.R. 33, Oxford, 51-67. Molloy, B. 2004. Charlesland Residential Development, Co. Wicklow. Site 1B. Unpublished Report, Margaret Gowen & Co. Ltd. Mount, C. 1994. Aspects of ritual deposition in the Late Neolithic and Beaker periods at Newgrange, Co. Meath. Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society 60, 433-43. Needham S.P. 2004. Migdale-Marnoch: sunburst of Scottish metallurgy. In I.A.G. Shepherd and G.J. Barclay (eds) Scotland in Ancient Europe. The Neolithic and Early Bronze Age of Scotland in their European Context. Edinburgh, 217–45. O’Brien, E. 1988. A Find of Beaker Pottery from Broomfield, Ballyboghil, Co. Dublin. Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland 118, 118-23. O’Brien, W. 1999. Sacred Ground: Megalithic Tombs in Coastal South-West Ireland, Galway. O’Brien, W. 2005. Ross Island. Mining, Metal and Society in Early Ireland. Bronze Age Studies 6, Galway. Ó Ríordáin, S.P. 1954. Lough Gur Excavations: Neolithic and Bronze Age houses on Knockadoon. Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy 56C, 297-459. O'Kelly, M. J, Cleary, R.M. and Lehane, D. 1983. Newgrange, Co. Meath, Ireland: the Late Neolithic-Beaker period settlement, B.A.R international series 190, Oxford. Phelan, S. 2004. Charlesland, Co. Wicklow, Area 1C & D. Unpublished Report, Margaret Gowen & Co. Ltd. Pollard, J. 1999. “These Places Have Their Moments”: Thoughts On Settlement Practices in the British Neolithic. In J. Brück and M. Goodman (eds) Making Places in the Prehistoric World: themes in settlement archaeology. London, 76-88. Purcell, A. 2002. Excavation of Three Neolithic houses at Corbally, Kilcullen, Co. Kildare. The Journal of Irish Archaeology 11, 31-75. Roche, H. 2004. The Dating of the Embanked Stone Circle at Grange, Co. Limerick. In H. Roche et al. (eds) From Megaliths to Metals, Essays in honour of George Eogan. Oxford, 109-16. Rynne, E. and O'hAéilidhe, P. 1965. A group of prehistoric sites at Piperstown, Co Dublin. Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy 64C, 61-84. Schofield, A.J. 1991. Interpreting artefact scatters: an introduction. In A.J. Schofield (ed.) Interpreting Artefact Scatters: Contributions to Ploughzone Archaeology. Oxford, 3-8. Scott, B.G. 1977a. Dancing, Drink or Drugs? Comments On the “Beaker Cult-Package” Hypothesis. Irish Archaeological Research Forum 2, 29-34. Scott, B.G. 1977b. Notes on the introduction of non-ferrous metal technology to Ireland and the transition from stone-use to indigenous non-ferrous metal use. Irish Archaeological Research Forum 2, 7-15. Seaver, M. and Keeley, V.J. Forthcoming. Final Report on the Archaeological Excavation of an Archaeological Complex, Laughanstown Townland, Co. Dublin. Seaver, M. Forthcoming. Final Report on Excavations at Site 78, Laughanstown, Co. Dublin. Shennan, S. J. 1982. From minimal to moderate ranking. In C. Renfrew and S.E. Shennan (eds) Ranking, Resource and Exchange. Cambridge, 27-32. Shennan, S. J. 1986. Interaction and change in third millennium BC western and central Europe. In C. Renfrew and J.F. Cherry (eds) Peer Polity Interaction and Socio-Political Change. Cambridge, 137-148.
Sheridan, J.A. 1983. A reconsideration of the origins of Irish metallurgy. Journal of Irish Archaeology 1, 11-19. Sheridan, J.A. 1995. Irish Neolithic Pottery: the story in 1995. In I. Kinnes and G. Varndell (eds) Unbaked Urns of Rudely Shape. Essays on British and Irish Pottery for Ian Longworth. Oxford, 3-21. Simpson, D.D.A. 1971. Beaker houses and settlements in Britain. In D.D.A Simpson (ed.) Economy and settlement in Neolithic and Early Bronze Age Britain. Leicester, 89-112. Sweetman, P.D. 1976. An earthen enclosure at Monknewtown, Slane, Co. Meath. Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy 76C, 25-72. Sweetman, P.D. 1985. A Late Neolithic/Early Bronze Age pit circle at Newgrange, Co. Meath. Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy 85C, 195-221. Sweetman, P.D. 1987. Excavation of a Late Neolithic/Early Bronze Age Site at Newgrange, Co. Meath. Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy 87C, 238-98. Thorpe, I. J. and Richards, C.C. 1984. The decline of ritual authority and the introduction of Beakers into Britain. In R. Bradley and J. Gardiner (eds) Neolithic Studies. B.A.R., Oxford, 67-84. Tierney, J. Forthcoming. Final Report on Excavationsâ€“ N25 Road Realignment Scheme, Kilmacthomas, Co Waterford. Eachtra Archaeological Projects. Waddell, J. 1991. The Irish Sea in Prehistory. The Journal of Irish Archaeology 6, 29-40. Waddell, J. 1998. The Prehistoric Archaeology of Ireland, Dublin. Whitttle, A. 1997. Moving on and moving around: Neolithic settlement mobility. In P. Topping (ed.) Neolithic Landsapes. Neolithic Studies Group-Seminar Papers 2. Oxford, 15-22. Woodman, P. 1992. Filling spaces in Irish prehistory. Antiquity 66, 295-310.
The Numinous Aquatic: symbolic interaction with watery places throughout Irish prehistory Conn Herriott This paper discusses the archaeological evidence for symbolic and spiritual interaction with aquatic sites – the sea, rivers, lakes and bogs – over the course of Irish prehistory. Although many excellent studies have contributed to our understanding of the reasons behind the enculturation of the prehistoric maritime landscape, the construction of water-related monuments and the placement of particular objects in aquatic locations, no interpretive work has satisfactorily capitalised on the fact that the varying forms and expressions of ‘water cult’ can be traced throughout and beyond the seven and a half thousand years of Irish prehistory. The argument presented in this paper is that prehistoric interaction with the numinous aquatic, in Ireland as elsewhere, was rooted in beliefs relating to a cosmological otherworld and to concepts of death. Also, like other elements in the religious structure, such beliefs and rituals were kept in alignment with – and can therefore shed light upon – the changeable economic and social needs of their parent population.
INTRODUCTION Long-term patterns of continuity and change are often ignored in European prehistoric studies. These patterns, however, inform as much about the past as do the details of individual periods. By connecting certain temporally disparate pieces of archaeological evidence and enquiry, attention will be drawn to some such broad patterns of continuity and change in a particular cognitive theme that extends throughout Irish prehistory, from the Mesolithic to the Iron Age and beyond. This is the symbolic use of rivers, lakes, the sea and other watery places. The aquatic environment generates a sense of liminality, the feeling of standing at the edge of an alien, atmospheric place within the world. Water is especially foreign to us because it will kill us if we stay in it for too long. Until recent times the world below the surfaces of rivers, lakes and oceans was off-limits, a complete mystery on which the imagination fed. While this is still true, water also gives life. Due to this sense of liminality and this generative importance of water, for much of human history aquatic places were treated as foci of religious activity in one form or another. Like all religious activity, this was channelled by culture and subsistence patterns. The aim of this paper is to outline the cultural, social and economic reasons for change in the symbolic use of aquatic places in prehistoric Ireland and to trace any underlying cosmological and ideological themes.
The same set of evidence will be examined twice; first through the sociology of religion, as we try to understand how the ‘numinous aquatic’ functioned as a tool of changing social and economic needs and secondly, through addressing the puzzle of what people actually believed when they performed rituals at, or otherwise made symbolic use of, watery places.
STIMULI As with all aspects of religion, water cult served to uphold territorial claims and to maintain social stability. This is a view commonly held by sociologists of religion. Looking at the Mesolithic one is somewhat hampered by a shortage of direct evidence for ritual or symbolic behaviour, but the ethnographic record indicates that for many huntergatherer societies watery places provide a major source of food. The Saltwater Peoples of northern Australia are a prime example of this, where aquatic sites are the foci of rituals and gatherings uniting the people and emphasising their connection with – and thus their claim on – their surroundings (Niven 2003). Excavations in Ireland, such as those at Mount Sandel, Ferriter’s Cove and Lough Boora, have revealed a comparable overwhelming dependence on aquatic creatures for food in Mesolithic Ireland (Woodman et al. 1999, 149). Thus, parallels with the Saltwater Peoples and other water-focused hunter-gatherers are useful for revealing what, in sociological terms, Mesolithic Irish water cult was all about. There are two sets of data that may reasonably be interpreted as potential evidence for Irish Mesolithic symbolic behaviour relating to the aquatic. Both may suggest that waterrelated symbolism was, in these cases at least, connected with territorial claims. The first is comprised of polished stone axeheads found at fording points on the Rivers Shannon, Lee, Blackwater and Bann. Many of these axeheads found their way into these rivers later in prehistory, but a number may well be Mesolithic in date (Woodman 1978, 187-188). If this is indeed the case, it hints at interesting interpretive possibilities. Professor Peter Woodman (1978, 187-188) has proposed that the territorial divisions of land in tribal Tasmania, aligned with river basins, may be an accurate model for territoriality in Mesolithic Ireland. If so, these axeheads could represent the footprints of rituals that, directly or indirectly, demonstrated land claims. They may also, of course, have been accidental losses, but one must bear in mind the secondary ethnographic parallels for hunter-gatherer territorial assertion through aquatic ritual, as well as Woodman’s compelling suggestions and the fact that polished stone axeheads were of considerable social and symbolic value in early prehistoric times. The second piece of potential Mesolithic evidence for aquatic symbolism functioning as a message of territorial claims through landscape enculturation is shell middens. Studying these middens’ cognitive importance to Mesolithic peoples has been the subject of research by Vicki Cummings of Cardiff University (2003). She has highlighted the often conspicuous size to which many shell middens grew. In a number of cases, such as that of Oronsay in Scotland (Fig. 1), Ertebølle in Denmark and to a lesser extent certain middens in Galway, Kerry, Limerick and Sligo, the structures would have been visible from
offshore and along the coast. The construction of such shell middens required considerable time and deliberate, culturally-focused effort. They may therefore have functioned in the same way as megalithic tombs and other monuments of subsequent eras, linking the people to the land and in the Irish instance, to the maritime environment. The middens may also have unified the population through their physical and conceptual position as massive testaments to shared heritage.
Figure 1 - A reconstructed view of the shell midden from Oronsay, as it would have stood during the Late Mesolithic (from Cummings 2003, 75).
Polished stone axeheads and shell middens represent the majority of the direct Irish Mesolithic evidence for how and why society in that period influenced peopleâ€™s natural desire to interact with the numinous aquatic. The ethnographic record remains the strongest, albeit indirect, source of information on the aquatic in Mesolithic cosmologies. When discussing the Neolithic, however, one is on more solid ground. It is generally agreed that, from this point onwards, the evidence for aquatic ritual and symbolism in prehistory can be sociologically taken as representing not only territorial claims but also the interests of an increasingly hierarchical population (e.g. Cooney and Grogan 1999, 78, 82; Shanks and Tilley 1982). The first topic of discussion relates to non-monumental rock carvings. These petroglyphs were initially shaped in the Neolithic and remained in some form of use until the Middle Bronze Age. Susan Johnston (1991; 1993) and Richard Bradley (1993; 1997) have shown that rock art in Ireland and Britain tends to be found on the borders of fertile areas and is often close to routes and pathways through the landscape. It generally also has strong aquatic connections. About eighty-eight per cent of Irish petroglyphs are found within 50m of water sources (Johnston 1991, 90). Examples that are clearly orientated around aquatic places and routeways include various complex compositions, such as Derrynablaha on the Iveragh peninsula (Oâ€™Sullivan and Sheehan 1993, 83; Purcell 1994) and Mevagh in Donegal, where petroglyphs overlook an estuary that links the sea to Mulroy Bay and surrounding lakes. At Doagh Island, 30km away, the shoreline is decorated as it faces the mainland across the channel (Bradley 1993, 94). It would seem, therefore, that these petroglyphs functioned as symbols of landscape enculturation, that is to say, territorial markers. They represented a strong symbolic emphasis on the aquatic as well as terrestrial environments. Rock art, however, also 30
belonged to the larger bricolage of symbolic constructions in the landscape. Its motifs are very similar to the symbols employed at megalithic tombs (Bradley 1997, 66; Johnston 1991) and rock art often lay along paths to these constructed monuments, with compositions becoming more ornate as one drew closer to the built ritual centres (Bradley 1993, 94; Johnston 1993, 266). Petroglyphs, therefore, seem to have been cognitively related both to aquatic routes and boundaries and also to megalithic ritual centres. The idea of ‘centres’ is a key notion here, for the Neolithic is characterised by a centralisation of public ritual. The gradual acceptance of farming encouraged a subtle change in cosmological perception, a conceptual movement away from people harmonising with nature in favour of manipulating it. Food production also led to the establishment of firm social hierarchies that moulded religious expression into more centralised forms. Megalithic constructions served to bring together the population group in rituals that allowed full access only to a limited number of people. Regarding aquatic symbolism, this centralising effort was most overtly expressed by a feature in the Brú na Bóinne complex that is rarely mentioned; artificial ponds (Fig. 2). Their exact use is difficult to establish as no finds have as yet come from them, but the construction of these ponds was an amazingly brazen statement of man’s ability not only to manipulate rocks and earth, but also the aquatic world. This was all due to the psychological effects of an agricultural lifestyle and to the religious requirements of developing social hierarchies.
Figure 2 - The Late Neolithic ritual landscape of Brú na Bóinne, with artificial ponds marked (from Cooney 2000, 166).
Rock art of the type from Neolithic to Middle Bronze Age Ireland is also found across much of Atlantic Europe. In many regions it has been locationally linked not only to megalithic structures but also to artefact concentrations, mainly of stone, copper and bronze weaponry, found in rivers and other watery places (Bradley 1997, 98, 162). The latter constitute a major set of evidence for prehistoric water cult. To complete the sociological review, these object concentrations at aquatic sites will be considered.
Although there may have been deliberate deposition of polished axeheads in rivers throughout the Mesolithic, it is during the Neolithic that the phenomenon began to accelerate at a noticeable rate. It is generally agreed that most of these objects were ritual offerings made at particular liminal points in people’s aquatic and to a lesser extent, terrestrial surroundings. It is also frequently cited that this practice was the religious expression of worries about an increasingly wet Irish climate from the Neolithic period onwards. This latter explanation, however, can be over emphasised. Most importantly, it does not account for the noticeable quantitative and qualitative increase in aquatic depositions of weaponry and other valuable items from the post-cinerary urn Middle Bronze Age onwards (Fig. 3).
Early and Middle Bronze Age Dagger Find Contexts Land 15%
Middle Bronze Age Dirks & Rapier Find Contexts 1 2
3 Bog 25%
Figure 3 – These graphs demonstrate the post-cinerary urn MBA deposition pattern change for weaponry (after Cooney and Grogan 1999). EBA-MBA daggers are more often found with burials than in rivers or bogs, but almost half the known dirks and rapiers, which apparently replaced daggers in the MBA, are from aquatic sites, especially rivers, but are not associated with a single corresponding burial find (ibid., 138-140). As with some Neolithic and EBA axes, many of these weapons were not actually made to withstand the rigours of battle, which suggests a purely ceremonial function (Ramsey 199, 60).
It is now worth looking at aquatic depositions from a socio-cultural viewpoint. The practice may have accelerated with Neolithic worries about climatic deterioration, but its social function, of stating people’s connection with and thus their claim on the land, possibly building on Mesolithic origins, must have aided the ritual’s survival. Neolithic polished stone axeheads seem to have been of considerable symbolic value. Wear and distribution analyses of finds from Lough Gur and elsewhere have supported this and, for instance, the 36cm long specimen from a bog near Carn in Monaghan must surely have been regarded as a status symbol as it was too cumbersome for anything other than ceremonial use. To offer such an object would have been a statement of power and wealth (Cooney 2000, 208). This idea of conspicuous disposal is a familiar one and is often cited in aquatic deposition studies. Symbolic and high-status items were, in earlier Neolithic times, only offered as grave goods. In the Late Neolithic, around the same time as petroglyphs and stone circles were developing, axeheads, maceheads and also the earliest copper and bronze weapons were increasingly found in non-funerary deposits, mostly in watery places. This conspicuous disposal represents a shift from concern with the dead to concern with the living and the 32
promotion of social status. As O’Flaherty (1995) has demonstrated, it is no coincidence that aquatic and non-funerary terrestrial depositions spread through Ireland together with a Late Neolithic and Early Bronze Age south-north diffusion of both metallurgical technology and also single burials. The presence of metallurgical capabilities increased material wealth and thereby solidified social hierarchies, which in turn led to the individualism integral to the concept of single burials – an ideal social climate in which ideas like conspicuous disposal would thrive. Although the rise of rituals that involved leaving objects at aquatic places was most likely due to contemporary climatic and thus economic worries, these rituals were instrumental in reinforcing hierarchies, which, from the Neolithic onwards, became the rule that governed social structures. It is this social function of aquatic deposition rituals that lay behind the relatively sudden post-cinerary urn Middle Bronze Age increase in the quantities of objects deposited in watery places. With metals and farming becoming more integrated as instruments of and influences on insular culture, a more tangible aristocracy began to take shape. This elite section of society brought about a reformation within a religious system that had survived since the Neolithic. Petroglyphs dropped out of use. Burial practices changed. The symbolic, high-status objects, which for many centuries had at least been depositionally shared between watery places, liminal landscape features and burials, now ended up almost exclusively as aquatic offerings. This scenario continued into the Late Bronze and Iron Ages. Some chiefly and ceremonial centres, such as Navan Fort, included artificial ponds into which offerings were thrown (Lynn 1977). In these constructions can once again be seen the increasing centralisation of aquatic ritual to suit aristocratic requirements of control. Similar artificial ponds were constructed, due to similar aristocratic requirements, for the famous inter-kingdom óenaige meetings that took place from at least as early as the Iron Age. For the same reason, people were ritually murdered in bogs, both in Ireland and across many parts of north-western Europe, throughout late prehistory and well into medieval times. Documentary sources indicate that these people were perceived as harmful to social stability, or were prisoners of war and therefore suitable human sacrifices to the numinous aquatic (Tacitus’ Germania, chapter 8; Wells and Hodgkinson 2001, 170). Another source of information is worth exploring. If one can trust that folkloric traditions surviving into historic times were at least in part based on Late Bronze and Iron Age origins, then we see a more defined picture of aquatic depositions. Possible echoes of prehistoric practice may be detected in a continuing Cork city tradition that was first recorded in the eighteenth century, but which is undoubtedly older. On taking office the city mayor and dignitaries would be rowed out into the Harbour, where they would throw a ‘dart’ into the sea ‘as a testimony of their jurisdiction’ (Ó Danachair 1986, 73). Perhaps this directly mirrors the social purpose for prehistoric aquatic depositions*. The folkloric record also reveals many more humble aquatic rituals that betray the economic concerns of common people. Offerings were often thrown into rivers, lakes, bogs, wells and the sea to appease natural forces in order that livestock, crops and loved ones might be protected. It is possible that these traditions extended through many centuries prior to being recorded, as prehistoric economic concerns were surely not that
different to those of historic, pre-industrial Ireland. The liminality of watery places also inspires something spiritual in all people in need, regardless of period or place. Why else do we throw coins into fountains today? Socially, the patterns of continuity and change in the symbolic use of the aquatic in Irish prehistory betray much development over time, with the natural impulse to express spirituality and religious beliefs being moulded by collective needs. On this much, we find at least partial agreement amongst prehistorians in Ireland and abroad. When one examines the ideologies and conscious experiential aspects of aquatic symbolism and ritual, one is on more speculative ground.
GATEWAYS Throughout Irish prehistory and beyond, the barrier to human passage presented by watery places led to their perception as gateways to some otherworld. Influenced also by the life-giving power of water, cosmologies across Eurasia interpreted the aquatic as relating to themes of death, regeneration and life. Of course, this does not tell the full story of prehistoric cognitive and spiritual interactions with water in Ireland. One can, however, trace connections with death in most of the rituals and symbolic usages of the aquatic mentioned above. Direct Mesolithic evidence is sparse in Ireland, with a reliance on parallels with the ethnographic record, Mesolithic remains from other regions and tentative retrospection from later periods. Hunter-gatherers in recorded times provide strong indications for Mesolithic origins to what Zvelebil (2003, 66) calls a ‘pan-Eurasian tradition’ of cosmologically linking water with the underworld. The Kets of Siberia, for example, offer the liquid left over from killing certain animals back into holy points on their main territorial river, as an act of appeasement to nature and a plea that the animal’s soul be regenerated in and returned from the underworld of death. The Kets also see waterfowl as messengers from the underworld. Similar cosmological incorporations of the aquatic are noted amongst the previously mentioned Saltwater Peoples of Australia. No remains of such rituals or beliefs survive from Mesolithic Ireland and there is little evidence that independently leads to a cognitive link between water and any underworld in that period. The number of people that have made this connection, however, is compelling. For this reason Cummings (2003, 77) has suggested that the lack of Mesolithic burials in Ireland and Britain may be due to a tradition of leaving the dead in watery places rather than burying them, as seems to have occurred in Mesolithic Denmark. From the Neolithic the case for ideological connections between aquatic ritual and death becomes stronger. Due to the aforementioned social pressures, symbolic objects such as polished axeheads, which were usually left in graves in the earlier Neolithic, also came to serve as aquatic and terrestrial offerings. Even after this depositional expansion those offerings must have maintained their funerary connotations. This ‘water-burial’ relationship is further supported by the curious artificial ponds constructed near Newgrange. There was clearly a connection here between death and water. Furthermore,
rock art dating from the Neolithic was often linked on the one hand with watery places, such as Co. Donegal and Co. Kerry and on the other hand, shared the same motifs as passage grave art. Finally, Neolithic bog bodies, like that from Stoneyisland in Co. Galway, may also attest to water as symbolically appropriate to death (Brindley and Lanting 1995; Cooney 2000, 130; O’Sullivan 2001, 80). If one considers the offerings, the pools, the rock art and the bodies, it seems that within the complex, interconnected worldviews and beliefs of Neolithic Ireland, probably centred around ancestor worship, a single particular cosmological and ideological strand tended to draw very direct and also quite indirect connections between death-related themes and water. This connection continued throughout later periods. In the post-cinerary urn Middle Bronze Age, prestige objects such as bronze weaponry made a quite definitive locational break from burials. It is most likely that, as suggested (Barrett 1990, 186; Cooney and Grogan 1999, 135-137; Bourke 2001), burials were becoming more ceremonially complex and water offerings were somehow part of a multi-stage funeral process. This is testified to by the fact that, even at a time when material wealth and the social hierarchies that it spawned were clearly reworking both funerals and the entire religious structure, watery sites retained their symbolic status as gateways to the afterlife. This continuity of belief and ritual was maintained right throughout the politically turbulent Late Bronze Age into the Iron Age and indeed beyond. The theme of death always underlay and empowered these elite conspicuous disposal demonstrations. As evidence of this, to the water offerings of weaponry, cauldrons, horns and other funerary and post-funerary ceremonial objects, the Late Bronze Age and Iron Age deposition of human skulls, often in watery places, can be added. Examples of this include Moynagh Lough, Co. Meath, and the purpose-built pool of King’s Stables at the Navan Fort complex (Fig. 4). One also recalls the compelling evidence for the increasing numbers of people ritually murdered at and left in bogs. Collectively this evidence provides strong indications of a death-andwater ideological relationship.
Figure 4 - Given the numerous archaeological finds of prestige items there, King’s Stables artificial pond was probably employed in high-status LBA aquatic rituals by the occupants of nearby Haughey’s Fort within the Navan complex. A similar function is attributed to later prehistoric Loughnashade with respect to Emain Macha (from Cooney 2000, 165).
Furthermore, if one traces the folkloric record, references occur to superstitions all over Ireland regarding various lakes being thought of as homes to the spirits of mythological characters such as Fionn Mac Cumhaill or King Laoghaire (Mac Néill 1962; Ó Danachair 1972). People at the lower end of the economic and social spectrum made offerings to these aquatic spirits to appease them and to protect family, crops and livestock. This belief can reasonably be projected back to late prehistoric times also. If one takes the Late Bronze Age and Iron Age evidence for aquatic rituals into consideration as a background to the folkloric and ancient written sources, one is left with a clear enough picture of watery places still being thought of as boundary zones between this life and the next – an impression that is hard to escape. The same applies throughout the entirety of Irish prehistory. The abiding concept that consistently appears in the evidence for aquatic ritual behaviour from each period is the passage from this world into the next. Water was the liminal point in this crossover. People rich and poor expressed their real economic needs together with perceived subjective social needs through the structure of religion. One can see both requirement types changing through time and so the religious structure is built and rebuilt. Within the shifting complex of over-arching belief, however, the building blocks always survived in one form or another. This is because people in all periods share a spiritual instinct. That is where continuity becomes involved with one’s impression of the ‘numinous aquatic’, on an ideological level. This survival stemmed from the liminality of aquatic places, tied in with human reliance on water for survival, which encouraged both fear and superstition.
CONCLUSION In religious studies there is always a danger of over-simplifying; indeed, this paper does not give due time to the interconnectedness and the small-scale local subtleties of religion and religious behaviour. Nevertheless, when one explores Irish prehistory two general patterns in symbolic interaction with the aquatic are prevalent. The first pattern involves hierarchisation and the development of rigid social structures using watery places to stake claims and send messages, whether it be shell middens and rock carvings enculturating a people’s territory, or built pools that helped focus and gather tribal groups around a single religious and therefore political fulcrum, or water offerings that send messages of status and thus maintain social hierarchies. The second pattern is that of repeated associations with the dead, from Mesolithic beginnings, which for the moment can only be tentatively inferred in large part from secondary sources, to Neolithic pools being built at the Brú na Bóinne cemetery, to Neolithic to Middle Bronze Age rock carvings that present both firm locational links with water and also glyphic connections with passage graves. Throughout prehistory, of course, an island-wide practice developed of offerings loaded with funerary symbolism being thrown into watery places. This occurred hand-in-hand with a very long tradition of placing human and animal remains in aquatic places and also ritually killing people at these locations. Like the temporal and regional distinctions in evidence, important long-term patterns of change and continuity compel us as archaeologists to give meaning to our prehistory. It is
hoped that this broad reading of the numinous aquatic, in large part a synthesis of the fine work of other prehistorians, has contributed to the fuller and more accurate understanding of a particularly fascinating strand of such patterns. NOTES * Kelly (2006) has pointed to the fact that many Bronze Age to Medieval bog bodies and the vast majority of coeval aquatic and terrestrial landscape depositions of symbolic or prestige objects, were placed at old tribal boundaries, barony limits and parish and townland borders. He sees this tendency as indicative of the fact that bog bodies and environmental votive offerings are the results of ancient rituals fundamentally inspired by territorial concerns, such as royal inauguration ceremonies. Such a hypothesis of course neatly slots into the territoriality-entwined theory sketched here for prestige object deposition in watery places, but Kelly is perhaps guilty of stretching the evidence. Firstly, many terrestrial depositions do not correspond locationally with any known ancient land boundaries. Secondly, the link between aquatic sites and territorial limits is an almost inevitable pattern, given that waterways invariably end up being used as borders of one sort or another. Kelly’s explanation is also tainted by over-simplification, in that he neglects to draw the important ideological link between rituals involving aquatic depositions and certain cosmological themes. Both the social and ideological aspects are required in order to fully approximate ourselves to aquatic depositions.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS Thanks to Kerri Cleary and the AYIA committee for their initiative in bringing these proceedings together. I am grateful for the editorial input provided by Kerri and Graham and also for Griffin Murray’s comments. Thanks finally to Josh Pollard for his advice and also to Aidan O’Sullivan for his help and direction in sourcing information.
BIBLIOGRAPHY Barrett, J. 1990. The monumentality of death: the character of Early Bronze Age mortuary mounds in southern Britain. World Archaeology 22, 179-189. Bourke, L. 2001. Crossing the Rubicon: Bronze Age metalwork from Irish rivers, Bronze Age Studies 5, Galway. Bradley, R. 1993. ‘For I would ask a question of them all’: reflections on the prehistoric archaeology of southwest Ireland. In E. Shee Twohig and M. Ronayne (eds) Past perceptions: the prehistoric archaeology of south west Ireland. Cork, 162-170. Bradley, R. 1997. Rock art and the prehistory of Atlantic Europe, London. Brindley, A.L. and Lanting, J.N. 1995. Irish bog bodies: the radiocarbon dates. In R.C. Turner and R.G. Scaife (eds) Bog bodies: new discoveries and new perspectives. London, 133-136. Cooney, G. 2000. Landscapes of Neolithic Ireland, London. Cooney, G. and Grogan, E. 1999. Irish prehistory: a social perspective, Bray. Cummings, V. 2003. The origins of monumentality? Mesolithic world-views of the landscape in western Britain. In L. Larsson, H. Kindgren, K. Knutsson, D. Loefler and A. Åkerlund (eds) Mesolithic on the move: papers presented at the Sixth International Congress on the Mesolithic in Europe, Stockholm 2000. Oxford, 74-81. Johnston, S.A. 1991. Distributional aspects of prehistoric Irish petroglyphs. In P. Bahn and A. Rosenfeld (eds) Rock art and prehistory. Oxford, 86-95. Johnston, S.A. 1993. The relationship between prehistoric rock art and Irish passage tomb art. Oxford Journal of Archaeology 12, 257-279.
Kelly, E.P. 2006. Secrets of the bog bodies: the enigma of the Iron Age explained, Archaeology Ireland 20(1), 26-30. Lynn, C.J. 1977. Trial excavations of the King’s Stables, Tray Townland, County Armagh. Ulster Journal of Archaeology 40, 42-62. Mac Néill, M. 1962. The festival of Lughnasa: a study of the survival of the Celtic festival of the beginning of harvest, London. Niven, I.J. 2003. Saltwater people: spiritscapes, maritime rituals and the archaeology of Australian indigenous seascapes. World Archaeology 35, 329-349. Ó Danachair, C. 1972. The year in Ireland, Cork. Ó Danachair, C. 1986. In Ireland long ago, Cork. O’Flaherty, R. 1995. An analysis of Irish Early Bronze Age hoards containing copper or bronze objects. Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland 125, 10-45. O’Sullivan, A. 2001. Foragers, farmers and fishers in a coastal landscape: an intertidal archaeological survey of the Shannon estuary, Dublin. O’Sullivan, A. and J. Sheehan 1993. Prospection and outlook: aspects of rock art on the Iveragh peninsula, Co. Kerry. In E. Shee Twohig and M. Ronayne (eds) Past perceptions: the prehistoric archaeology of south west Ireland. Cork, 75-84. Purcell, A. 1994. Carved landscapes: the rock art of the Iveragh peninsula. Unpublished MA thesis, University College Cork. Ramsey, G. 1995. Middle Bronze Age metalwork: are artifact studies dead and buried? In J. Waddell and E. Shee Twohig (eds) Ireland in the Bronze Age: proceedings of the Dublin conference, April 1995. Dublin, 156-164. Shanks, M. and Tilley, C. 1982. Ideology, symbolic power and ritual communication: a reinterpretation of Neolithic mortuary practices. In I. Hodder (ed.) Symbolic and structural archaeology. Cambridge, 129-154. Wells, C.E. and Hodgkinson, D. 2001. A Late Bronze Age human skull and associated worked wood from a Lancashire wetland. Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society 67, 163-174. Woodman, P.C. 1978. The Mesolithic in Ireland, B.A.R. Series 58, Oxford. Woodman, P.C., Anderson, E. and Finlay, N. 1999. Excavations at Ferriter’s Cove, 1983-95: last foragers, first farmers in the Dingle Peninsula, Bray. Zvelebil, M. 2003. Enculturation of Mesolithic landscapes. In L. Larsson, H. Kindgren, K. Knutsson, D. Loefler and A. Åkerlund (eds) Mesolithic on the move: papers presented at the Sixth International Congress on the Mesolithic in Europe, Stockholm 2000. Oxford, 65-73.
It takes Two to Tango: A Review of Beehive Querns Gary Mulrooney This article reviews the literature relating to the use and context of later prehistoric beehive quern stones in Ireland. Emphasis is placed on ethnographic evidence relating to food processing technology and harvest rituals. The Late Bronze Age saddle quern technology, which directly preceded the beehive quern stones and the Late Iron Age/Early Medieval disc querns that followed are also briefly discussed. Quern morphology, decoration and distribution traits have previously been widely discussed, however, perhaps they can also reveal something of the everyday life of the user community. The ritual connotation of querns is one such area that has been considered (Raftery 1994, 124), but certainly can more be inferred? Is it possible to ‘re-contextualize’ an item of material culture within its overall cultural milieu (Bevan 1997, 81)?
INTRODUCTION Over the last twenty years archaeological research has established the existence of a high degree of wetland votive deposition, particularly during the Bronze and Iron Ages (Bradley 1990; Cooney and Grogan 1994; Raftery 1998). While research has focused primarily on the deposition of metalwork, the deposition of more ‘mundane’ artefacts such as agricultural equipment including iron sickles and querns has also been noted (Bradley 1990, 164-167). Many wetland sites, however, have been primarily interpreted in terms of purported secular and utilitarian use. In more recent years the balance has begun to be redressed, for example Fredengren’s (2002) reinterpretation of a number of crannógs.
BEEHIVE QUERN STONES During the later part of the Iron Age the long used saddle quern was gradually replaced by the rotary quern, which had the advanced mechanical principle of continuous rotary action (Caulfield 1977, 104). Rotary querns consisted of two distinct forms: the beehive quern and the later disc quern. The lighter and easier-to-use disc quern was a further development of the ‘prototype-like’ beehive quern and continued in use in some areas of Ireland into the twentieth century. Whilst only approximately 200 beehive querns have been identified in Ireland to date, this figure is unlikely to reflect the total number that once existed (ibid., 107). They appear to complement the distribution of La Tène material culture, which occurs in the northern two thirds of the country. Statistical analysis implies that the disparate
distributions of La Tène metalwork and beehive querns reflect two distinct Iron Age cultural groups. Warner (2002, 125) postulates that the metalwork represents ‘wealthy rancher-warriors’, the beehive querns ‘poorer corn-growers’. Given the limited numbers of beehive querns involved, however, the addition of as few as ten new examples could significantly alter this current model.
CHRONOLOGY Caulfield (1977, 120) observed that the type of beehive quern found in Ireland originated in the unpierced northern British beehive querns of the Yorkshire/south Scotland area. Southern Scottish sites, such as Bonchester Hill, indicate that the beehive quern was in use there before the arrival of the Romans. They survived in Yorkshire, Durham and Northumberland as one of the most widespread finds on Romano-British sites of the second to fourth centuries AD (ibid., 107). As the introduction of this quern into northern England could be as early as the second century BC (ibid., 124), a date in the early centuries AD has been suggested for its introduction into Ireland (Mitchell and Ryan 2001, 244). The superiority and specialised nature of the rotary quern and its subsequent rapid adoption by Irish farming communities is the most likely explanation for its initial entry into Ireland (Waddell 1998, 323). Its introduction has also sometimes been considered an indicator of the migration of new people, bringing new technologies, into Ireland (Caulfield 1977, 125; Weir 1995, 108). Thirty-two Irish rotary quern upper stones show some form of non-functional embellishment (Caulfield 1977, 121), while only seven beehive querns display the more elaborate curvilinear decorations. It is these attractive examples that are most frequently illustrated in the archaeological literature, however the vast majority were undecorated, functional objects (Fig. 1). As it is difficult to establish the chronological contexts of Irish rotary querns (see below), their dating is largely based upon northern British examples and the stylistic La Tène decoration on a small number of Irish querns (Fig. 2). This La Tène style art suggests a terminus ante quem of the first century AD for their introduction into Ireland; the evidence from a number of British sites suggests that it could ‘possibly be even one or two centuries earlier’ (Caulfield 1977, 124). Overall, the closest dating suggested for their use in Ireland lies in the period 200 BC – AD 400 (ibid., 124).
Figure 1 - Undecorated upper beehive quern stone from Kellystown, Co. Sligo (© G. Mulrooney).
Figure 2 - Decorated upper beehive quern stone (from Raftery 1994, 132).
MORPHOLOGY Beehive querns consist of two stones, a lower flattened disc and a heavier vertically perforated beehive-shaped stone that rotated upon this disc (Fig. 3). Of the 215 beehives studied by Caulfield (1977), thirty-five are lower stones and over 180 are upper stones, however, more have since been discovered (Waddell 1998, 321). The undecorated upper beehive quern stone from Kellystown, Co. Sligo, (approximately 31.2cm x 31cm x 15.2cm high) has a mass of fifty-six lbs/four stone, requiring two people to carry it for any distance. The upper stones are functionally meaningless without the plain lower stones as, in practice, it takes two to tango.
Figure 3 - Complete set of beehive querns from the north of Ireland (from Waddell 1998, 321).
Upper stones have a number of handle forms; horizontal; vertical (often in a separate projection on the side of the stone) and a third type similar to the horizontal but cut at any angle between the horizontal and vertical (Fig. 4). A number of beehive querns have more than one handle-hole, suggesting possible contemporaneity (Caulfield 1977, 118). Rotary querns are generally thought of as possessing a short wooden handle that would have allowed relatively small scale grain processing. This may not be the case however, as Jones (2001, 37) describes similar rotary querns being used in modern-day Nepal as part of a more substantial milling unit. Instead of a short wooden handle, a long suspended rocker is inserted into the upper stone socket and a wooden chute directs the flour to sacks - ‘such a unit serves a group of farmers [rather] than an individual household’ (ibid.). Jones therefore states that it is worth considering the transition from saddle querns to rotary querns as ‘more than just a slight modification of an essentially domestic item’ (ibid.).
Figure 4 - A: Horizontal-Handle, Drumee, Co. Sligo (from Caulfield 1977, 111). B: Between Horizontal and Vertical-Handle, Derrylough, Co. Longford (from Corlett 1998, 114). C: Vertical-Handle, South Down Coll. (from Caulfield 1977, 111).
The grinding of grain using the earlier saddle querns was both tiring and time-consuming. It involved pushing a rubbing stone over a slightly tilted quern, set as close to the knees as possible, with many passes required to produce flour for baking (Fagan 2001, 262). Observations made among the Bemba of Zambia reveal that it took ‘fully an hour to prepare the grain for one family’s daily requirements’ (Richards 1939 in Coles 1973, 47). Similarly, in the 1970s Hersch interviewed elderly Turkish women who had operated saddle querns in their youth and learnt that it took two women approximately 36 hours labour, spread over three consecutive days, to yield one sack of flour, enough for just one family for one month (Lidström Holmberg 2004, 215). By contrast, Danish experiments in the 1960s confirmed that the corn acts as a lubricant in the turning of a rotary quern, i.e. it is less tiring to rotate the upper stone than to move it back and forwards as with saddle querns (Coles 1973, 46). A rapid turning produces coarse flour; a slow turning produces finer flour (Nielsen 1966 in Coles 1973, 46). Unlike saddle querns, rotary querns simultaneously crushed and ground the cereal and were consequently a major time and labour-saving device. Beehive querns were therefore an extremely important development in the Iron Age. The change from saddle quern was a revolution, albeit a gradual one. Raftery (1994, 124) succinctly described beehive querns as ‘the Microwave’ of the Iron Age, such was the extent of their benefits. Over time, the beehive quern ‘evolved’ into the flatter disc quern, which was lighter and easier-to-use. This was generally a European influence but the Irish beehive querns developed in their own unique way. The beehive quern stones with vertical handle-holes seem to be a development under the influence of the disc quern with vertical handle (i.e. they are later than the horizontal-handled beehive querns). The change to the vertical position, however, is a functional disadvantage since it ‘limits the leverage for revolving the stone; with a horizontal handle the leverage is limited only by the length of the handle itself, while with the vertical handle the leverage is restricted within the diameter of the stone’ (Caulfield 1977, 119). Perhaps the following scene concerning early twentieth century disc quern-usage provides a plausible answer as to why the beehive quern would have ‘evolved’ over time from the more efficient horizontal to the less efficient verticalhandle position: Each member of the team provides himself with a rope about three feet long (in the case of a team of four people). A loop is worked on the end of the rope to be dropped over the wooden peg of the quern. The upper stone is then set in motion, each operator pulling sharply as the peg begins to approach him. The speed gradually increases in intensity, the men picking up the rhythm, which is the modified form of simple harmonic motion familiar in the piston of an engine. With high speed the work is exhausting. Mr. Clery remembers a party of six men who ground four cwts., [approximately 0.2 tonne] of barley in five hours; the two resting, taking turns at pouring the grain into the central orifice of the upper stone. To keep the ropes from fouling each other the operator must take care that they do not slacken on the return motion. (Note that by its arrangement on the peg each rope is in a separate horizontal plane) (Tohall 1951, 70).
It is possible to infer from this passage that having the handle in the vertical position facilitated occasional cereal processing on a more intensive scale. Such an operation would not be possible, or at least extremely awkward, if the handle remained in the horizontal position, as the horizontally planed ropes would soon wrap around the stones. Taking this a step further, it is proposed that this type of evolution would most likely only occur at a time when the need for intensive processing existed. This in turn implies a period for their inception of greater arable cultivation, i.e. towards the end of the late Iron Age, cusping on the Early Medieval period. This may provide a plausible reason for the eventual replacement of the rotary beehive quern by the later rotary disc quern. With increased levels of arable farming in the Early Medieval period, as demonstrated by the pollen-diagrams of circa the third century AD (Mitchell and Ryan 2001, 244), verticallyhandled disc querns would give the option of both single- or multiple-person grain processing.
CONTEXT OF DISCOVERY No beehive quern has ever been found on an Irish excavation. In Britain, however, hundreds have been discovered during excavations of Iron Age and Romano-British sites, including the farmstead site of Huckhoe, near Hadrian’s Wall in Northern England where over forty were discovered (Jobey 1959 in Caulfield 1977, 123). This makes it all the more surprising that none have ever been recovered from Irish habitation sites such as hillforts, crannógs, or even on ringforts. This suggests that this type of quern had disappeared by c. 500 AD when ringforts started to become common (Stout 1997, 23-24). Most beehive querns are old finds, the precise provenance of which is unknown. Many were picked up in fields not associated with any monument. Three come from rivers (two from the Moy, Co. Mayo, and one from the Boyne). The most commonly recorded context for the beehive quern are bogs, which have produced twenty-five examples (Caulfield 1977, 124). These wetland finds constitute approximately thirteen per cent of the known discoveries, inevitably raising the question of ritual deposition (Waddell 1998, 323). Their deposition in wetland contexts with no apparent occupational association and their ‘obvious association with food production and the harvest’ (Raftery 1994, 124), all strongly suggests that many ‘could have been laid down in the context of votive activities’ (ibid.). Why should Iron Age people, either as communities or as families, have wished to deposit a useful, functional, implement in a bog thereby placing it beyond use?
THE IRON AGE CLIMATE There was a trend towards increasing wetness in the Late Bronze Age and Early Iron Age, probably beginning around 1000 BC (Bell 2001, 5). By c.200 BC there is evidence in the pollen record for a reduction in farming whilst woodland was regenerating during the centuries 200 BC – AD 200, known as the Iron Age ‘hiatus’ (Weir 1995, 106; Bell 2001,
9). Pollen records also show that from c. AD 200 there was a dramatic increase in arable farming (Mitchell and Ryan 2001, 246). Deteriorating weather would have meant lower levels of arable produce returns. The quantity of cereals decreased and therefore their symbolic importance may have increased. This is reflected in Bradley’s (1990) work on the deposition of agricultural/fertility artefacts such as ards in Danish bogs and querns in corn storage pits in Britain. Cereals like wheat are highly vulnerable to adverse weather conditions and from the Early Medieval annals it is known that destruction of cereals by bad weather could bring about severe food-shortage, even famine (Kelly 2000, 219). The Annals of Inisfallen, for example, record that much of the corn-crop of 1012 AD was destroyed by heavy rain and that a gale in the autumn of 1077 AD greatly damaged the corn-crop (ibid., 235). There can be little doubt that wetter conditions would have had similar adverse affects centuries earlier in the period 200 BC – AD 200. Whether prehistoric or historic periods, continuous heavy rainfall during summer months will destroy the standing crop. The consequences would be the same; hunger, suffering, poverty and possibly death, especially for the youngest and oldest in a community. Weir (1995, 111) suggests that the frontier earthworks activity at the Dorsey at c.140BC and again at c.95 – 90BC and the contemporaneous linear earthworks at the Black Pig’s Dyke, Co. Monaghan and the Doon of Drumsna, Co. Roscommon, are all evidence for stress among Iron Age society. Similarly, Tarzia (1987) noted that these sorts of boundary defences become most important during periods of stress, e.g. climatic deterioration or an increase in warfare (Weir 1995, 111). In the same vein, it is interesting to note the context in which proposals were made in the fifteenth century for the construction of massive linear earthen defences around the shrinking Anglo-Irish heartland, the ‘Pale’ (Barry 1987, 168). These extraordinary proposals were not made from a position of strength, security and prosperity, but rather when the colony was surrounded by the antagonistic factors of the resurgent Gaelic Irish; a time and atmosphere of uncertainty, doubt and weakness. Likewise, in Britain, it was observed that ‘an increase in social stress over time, in the period around 100 BC, [culminated] in clear indications of aggression and destruction, reflected in the upsurge in the use of the chariot, both as a symbol of prestige and an instrument of war’ (Cunliffe 1995, 37).
THE HARVEST AND RITUAL FERTILITY Harvest time across the world is associated with many traditional beliefs, folklore and associated folk rituals and this is similarly true of both Irish and British farming communities. In Ireland and Scotland the significance of the long survival of the Lughnasa festivals is inextricably intertwined with the fruition of the new crops and ‘the first enjoyment of the new food supply’ (MacNeill 1982, 43). In early twentieth century Ireland it was customary on the first morning of the harvest that the first sheaves cut be ‘scotched or lashed, that is the grain was beaten out without using the flail. The winnowed grain was parched over the fire, ground in a quern and boiled in time to make a breakfast for the reapers’. This ceremonial breakfast ‘undoubtedly preserves archaic
practices’ (Evans 1957, 160). MacNeill (1982, 419) believes it probable that there was also a ‘solemn first cutting of a small quantity of corn’ in antiquity. Likewise, Garlic/Garland Sunday, the last Sunday in July before the first of August or Lughnasa, was the occasion when people first dug up the new potatoes (which took the place of bread in Ireland in recent centuries) from which ‘Cally was made with some ceremony’ and the family all ate together (ibid., 55). This is just one element of the overwhelming evidence of a ritual beginning-of-harvest family feast (ibid., 57). Much emphasis was placed on this first-meal and ‘partaking of it was held to ensure against starvation and failure of the food supply during the coming year’ (ibid., 420). MacNeill (ibid., 422-24) also discussed the symbolic relationship between the start of the harvest season, young courting couples and human fertility. There was also the Scottish harvest-time custom in which any visiting stranger was ‘accosted’ by the local women, held down on the ground, a woman would lie on top of him and another woman would tumble them over (Banks 1937 in Evans 1957, 161). Evans (1957, 161) states that such horseplay was more than a consequence of high spirits, but displays the rites and symbols of fertility, which were closely bound up with the bounty of harvest. Similarly, Lidström Holmberg, discussing the ethnographic study of female initiation ceremonies among the Zambian Bemba, which involves the ritualistic usage of saddle querns, explains that the lower quern slab symbolised a female and the quern-handstone represented ‘male gendered identity’: When used in the ritual act, the two quern parts as a sexual unit were used to perform a socialising story of the ideal relation between the female and the male body. The quern may be seen [as] a distinct metaphor of the embodied relation of two specific gender categories, i.e. males and females of fertile age, both biologically and food-wise (Lidström Holmberg 2004, 227). This is a pertinent analogue in this discussion as it illustrates a culture in which querns symbolically interconnect cereal grains, finely ground food, fertility and reproduction (ibid.). Of course, early twentieth century Scottish, Zambian and even Irish ‘fertility rites’ could never be taken to equate, to any large degree, with Iron Age customs, but they do provide suggestions towards gaining a better understanding. At the other end of the spectrum some harvest time rituals may reflect the ‘darker’ side of fertility rituals, with echoes of the sort of activities that may once have been carried out in the event of crop failure or famine. The beliefs and customs connected with the last sheaf are legion and found all over the world. In Ireland the ‘last sheaf’ is also known as the Cailleach or Hag (Cailleach Bhéarra/Bhéirre – the hag of sovereignty, a symbolic female incarnation of sovereignty/the land and agricultural fertility) (MacKillop 2005, 64). Irish folktales told of the final unreaped cereal rigs being left unclaimed and uncut because their owner feared to incur ‘the famine of the farm’, that is, having the hag to feed until next harvest (Evans 1957, 162). When eating the first of the new food the custom was to say, “Marbh-fhaisg ar an gCailligh Rua! (Destruction to the Red-haired Hag!)…a popular personification of Hunger and Famine” (MacNeill 1982, 57). Tales were even recounted of farmers reaping the last sheaf at night in moonlight to avoid what was an omen of misfortune or death (Evans 1957, 162). Ó Crualaoich (2003, 85) believes that such popular Cailleach Bhéarra folklore appears to preserve the remnants of an older
strand of meaning, her original role as chthonic and fertility goddess, long since transformed by literature into a sovereignty queen.
AGRICULTURAL IMPLEMENTS Beehive querns are not the only agricultural implements found in Iron Age wetland contexts; a number of ards have also been found, for example at Gortygeeheen, Co. Clare and Gortnacartglebe, Co. Donegal which was radiocarbon dated to the 4th – 3rd centuries BC (Mitchell and Ryan 2001, 244). A single iron sickle, arguably the most symbolic of all agricultural tools, was discovered as part of the hoard from Lisnacrogher, Co. Antrim (Raftery 1994, 123). Iron Age querns are not only found in wetland contexts. Bradley (1990, 163-164) sees a connection between the placing of querns in corn storage pits and a number of inhumation burials also in these pits on Southern British settlements, for example Danebury Hillfort, Hampshire. It is therefore of note that a pair of disc querns has recently been found in one of the earliest corn-drying kilns (Kiln F246) at the multiperiod site of Ratoath, Co. Meath (Angela Wallace pers. comm.). The date for the kiln was obtained from charcoal within the middle fill, which contained the rotary querns. This was AMS dated and produced a calibrated date of AD 120-270. The seven fills of the kiln were quite different to other contemporaneous kilns on the site; there was no firereddened scorched area; the kiln had an unusual arrangement of flat stones towards the base (the two quern stones overlay this) and the layer of redeposited subsoil overlying the quern stones indicates a deliberate attempt to seal or hide the stones. There may also have been some sort of ritual dumping associated with the formal arrangement of the stone layer and overlying quern stones with ashy material. Another relevant factor is the frequent fragments of cow skull found in the uppermost fill of the kiln. Bradley (1990, 161) noted that special deposits of animal remains found on dry-land sites in the Iron Age consisted of three main types of deposit; complete or partial skeletons, animal skulls and groups of articulated limbs. Such finds are regularly associated with corn storage pits (ibid.). A strong possibility exists, therefore, that the Ratoath kiln fulfils the symbolic role that Bradley believes was intended to link the sacrifice of food and animals to the regeneration of the seed corn stored underground (ibid.). Being a kiln, even if a seemingly aberrant one, it would not have been used for corn-storage. Kilns, however, are akin to quern stones in that they both have transformatory properties; kilns dry and even ripen the grains before threshing, in the event of a damp harvest and hardens them before milling. Querns transform the non-edible into something digestible (Lidström Holmberg 2004, 226). The combination in the same Iron Age kiln of a rotary quern with cow skull fragments, therefore, possibly resonates with fertility symbolism.
SOCIAL IMPLICATIONS What can be said of the everyday working ‘life’ of the beehive quern prior to its deposition at ‘death’? It is widely assumed that querns were operated by women
(Lidström Holmberg 2004, 203) and the evidence appears to support this. Literary sources, excavated grave goods and ethnographic evidence all reinforce this assumption. Beneath the surface, however, there is more to quern-usage than simply a menial task undertaken by women. The use of querns has both economic and ritual significance. Quern stones were found exclusively in female graves in Bandkeramic graves of Neolithic Europe (Whittle 1985 in Bevan 1997, 86). Osteological studies from the early farming village of Abu Hureyra in Syria indicate an abundance of evidence for repetitive tasks (Molleson 1994 in Fagan 2001, 262). The labour-expensive grinding method involved in saddle quern-usage placed severe stress on knees, wrists and the lower back, ‘reflected [exclusively] in the bones of those who carried out this constant daily work – the women of the community’ (Fagan 2001, 262). The arthritic condition associated with grinding was not found on the first metatarsal of any males (ibid.). Early Medieval literary sources reveal that males were dominant in sowing the cereals, harvesting, threshing and drying the grain in kilns, while the grinding of the grain in querns was usually the job of women, whether wife, daughter, female servant or slave (Kelly 2000, 450). Furthermore, the daughters of small farming families were expected to learn the use of quern, kneading-trough and sieve (Ó Cróinín 1995, 96). While this was true for the Early Medieval period, one can’t be certain it was the case in the Iron Age, although it is a possibility. It is noteworthy that in Early Medieval monastic centres that were exclusively male, the use of querns and the custom of grinding in order to make fresh bread for visitors was therefore undertaken by the male occupants, a fact that frequently appears in the ecclesiastical literature (ibid.). Circumstances may therefore have also existed in Iron Age society where it was not women who used querns, however, our knowledge of Iron Age economic and social organisation is very limited and much of it depends on the extent to which the character of Early Medieval Ireland can be projected back into the Iron Age (Cooney and Grogan 1994, 194). Anthropological studies, however, suggest the almost exclusive use of querns was by women, throughout world cultures, the Zambian Bemba being just one example (Bevan 1997; Lidström Holmberg 2004). Among the contemporary agricultural Lugbara, of north-eastern Zaïre/north-west Uganda, female grave goods include firestones from her hearth and grinding stones, which represent the domestic and agricultural spheres in which the women operate (Bevan 1997, 86). The Naga tribes of north-east India are an example of an economically-simple but symbolically-complex modern-day society. If their surviving material culture was examined a gender bias would exist (Bevan 1997, 85). The more durable weapons and head-hunter skulls associated with male activities would survive, but evidence for the equally important female activities associated with feasts, textiles, agricultural production and the communal symbolic ritual-games would be archaeologically invisible (ibid.). The inorganic, enduring nature of beehive querns is therefore valuable as they may yet shed more light on Iron Age society, particularly the female sphere. Ethnographic evidence confirms that women do most of the maintenance, cleaning, repairing, child-care and food production tasks in agricultural food-producing societies
(Milledge Nelson 1997, 102). Women are very involved with processing and storing the harvest so logically it is argued that agricultural tools would have belonged to the women of the household (ibid.). Furthermore, women may also be in charge of food storage involving pits and kiln-usage (ibid.). These are all important deductions when considering Iron Age society. The varied evidence from disparate sources (literary, archaeological, ethnographic and osteological) would seem to confirm that, in the vast majority of cultures, both past and present, food processing was indeed a female task, hence beehive querns probably belonged to the woman. As it was almost exclusively women utilizing quern technology, it must surely follow therefore that the majority of associated technological advances and quern evolution are the consequence of women’s observation, adaptation and innovation. The time- and labour-saving benefits of rotary quern technology already mentioned, must also relate to some of the social aspects of the community, especially to the principal quern operators, women. An anthropological study of the effect of labour-saving technology on female fertility has been carried out on the Maya of Xculoc, a small, remote subsistence maize-farming village on the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico (Kramer and McMillan 2006). Like the benefits of the beehive quern, the introduction of modern milling technology into the village increased labour efficiency and reduced the amount of time females spent in energetically-costly labour. This in turn reduced the drainage on female calorie levels, an underlying constraint to fertility (ibid., 166). Recent research revealed that such subsistence labour “suppresses ovarian function in adult women even when not accompanied by negative energy balance” (Jasienka and Ellison 1998, 2004 in Kramer and McMillan 2006, 167). The study found that young women reallocated the time saved in “calorically expensive activities to less energetically costly leisure activities [resting, sleeping, socialising, eating, religious participation and personal maintenance], potentially relaxing the physiological constraints on female sexual maturation” (Kramer and McMillan 2006, 168). The main results of new milling technology on the lives of females included (ibid., 171): 1 2
4 5 6 7 8
Young Women: decrease in labour time, increase in personal time. A reproductive-aged daughter became less critical as an economic contributor; from her parents viewpoint she should be less constrained from leaving home to start a family. For a young woman conditions may become more favourable for initiating reproduction at a younger age if the change in [labour and time] efficiency reduces the labour cost of supporting a family. Mothers: women in the after-technology period had bigger families. Age at first-birth dropped significantly, from 21.2 years to 19.5 years (even after allowing for secular trends). The annual probability of giving birth is one and a half times greater after the introduction of labour-saving technology. Childbearing strategies may become more diversified. Overall, the saved time appears to have been allocated to reproductive effort.
While it is impossible to superimpose this scenario onto the Irish Iron Age it is an avenue worth considering as it illustrates one possible relationship between the introduction of a newer milling technology and its principal operators. Of course, there is only so far this analogy can be carried in relation to the daily life of Iron Age women post saddle querns; much of the changes described above would not occur if the saved grinding-time was reallocated back into other subsistence activities. The apparent shift in emphasis towards pasturalism during the Iron Age also has to be noted (Earwood 1997, 34). This shift in the focus of the economy towards cattle-rearing and dairy products, reflected both in the occurrence of bog butter from the Middle Iron Age and pollen diagrams, would have reduced both the amount of time and numbers of people involved in cereal-processing activity. Any fertility/birth-rate affects influenced by the change in quern technologies may not, if at all, have become manifest until the shift in balance to arable farming towards the end of the Iron Age, by which stage the disc quern had replaced the beehive quern. It may then have contributed somewhat to any increase in population levels.
CONCLUSION In his 1966 dissertation on Irish querns Caulfield (1977, 129) asked; “what is the reason for the complete disassociation between beehive querns and our early habitations sites, a cleavage not paralleled in similar Iron Age sites in Britain?” It seems that in late Irish prehistory, at the end of their ‘life’ some beehive querns were deliberately removed from the normal everyday, put beyond further use or retrieval and deliberately deposited in bogs. Due to their mass it would have been awkward to carry them into a bog let alone attempt to retrieve them. The fact that the beehive quern was the form of quern technology in use during what seems to have been an inclement climatic period could go some way to explain why it and not the earlier saddle quern or the later disc quern was deposited as a votive offering in liminal wetland contexts, particularly agriculturally barren and infertile bogs. Maybe this was an attempt to placate a god/goddess of agriculture/fertility, a harvest thanksgiving offering, or a votive deposit for divine intervention. From the ethnographic evidence it is apparent that food processing equipment was, and still is, imbued with fertility symbolism, both agricultural and human-biological. To this can be added other agricultural material culture in use during the Iron Age such as sickles, ards and bog butter, often found in liminal contexts, be they rivers, lakes or bogs. Such activity could strongly suggest that a major emphasis was placed on types of deposits that stressed the links between the population and the fertility of its land (Bradley 1990, 164). We have also seen that it is perhaps possible to re-contextualise the beehive quern back into its everyday cultural milieu – their deposition in bogs may have been their last ‘ritual-function’ after a productive and invaluable functional life.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS Grateful thanks for the advice, time and patience given by Dr. Marion Dowd, Programme Co-ordinator, BSc Applied Archaeology, IT Sligo. Thanks also to Chris Read, IT Sligo/North West Archaeological Services and to Fiona Beglane, IT Sligo. Thank you to Phyl Foley and Frank Johnson and also to Leo Leyden for providing access to the Kellystown beehive quern. A special word of thanks to Angela Wallace for providing relevant information/dates on the unpublished Ratoath site. Many thanks to Kerri Cleary for her help with the conference and editing the papers, and indeed all the AYIA organising committee of the 2006 UCC conference.
BIBLIOGRAPHY Barry, T.B. 1987. The Archaeology of Medieval Ireland, London. Bell, M. 2001. Environment in the First Millennium B.C. In T.C. Champion and J.R. Collis (eds) The Iron Age in Britain and Ireland: Recent Trends. Sheffield, 5-16. Bevan, L. 1997. Skin Scrapers and Pottery Makers? ‘Invisible’ Women in Prehistory. In J. Moore and E. Scott (eds) Invisible People and Processes: Writing Gender and Childhood into European Archaeology. Leicseter, 81-87. Bradley, R. 1990. The Passage of Arms: An Archaeological Analysis of Prehistoric Hoard and Votive Deposits, Oxford. Caulfield, S. 1977. The Beehive Quern in Ireland. Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland 107, 104-139. Coles, J. 1973. Archaeology by Experiment, London. Cooney, G. and Grogan, E. 1994. Irish Prehistory: A Social Perspective, Bray. Cunliffe, B. 1995. The Celtic Chariot: A Footnote. In B. Raftery (ed.) Sites and Sights of the Iron Age: Essays on Fieldworks and Museum Research presented to Ian Mathieson Stead. Oxford, 31-39. Earwood, C. 1997. Bog Butter: A Two Thousand Year History. Journal of Irish Archaeology 8, 25-42. Evans, E.E. 1957. Irish Folk Ways, London. Fagan, B.M. 2001. People of the Earth: An Introduction to World Prehistory, New Jersey. Fredengren, C. 2002. Crannogs, Bray. Jones, M. 2001. Plant Exploitation. In T.C. Champion and J.R. Collis (eds) The Iron Age in Britain and Ireland: Recent Trends. Sheffield, 29-40. Kelly, F. 2000. Early Irish Farming, Dundalk. Kramer, K.L., and McMillan, G.P. 2006. The Effect of Labour-Saving Technology on Longitudinal Fertility Changes. Current Anthropology 47, 165-172. Lidström Holmberg, C. 2004. Saddle Querns and Gendered Dynamics of the Early Neolithic in Mid Central Sweden. In H. Knutsson (ed.) Arrival: Coast to Coast 10. Uppsala Universitet, 199-231. MacKillop, J. 2005. Myths and Legends of the Celts, London. MacNeill, M. 1982. The Festival of Lughnasa, Dublin. Milledge Nelson, S. 1997. Gender in Archaeology: Analysing Power and Prestige, London. Mitchell, F. and Ryan, M. 2001. Reading the Irish Landscape, Dublin. Ó Cróinín, D. 1995. Early Medieval Ireland 400-1200, London. Ó Crualaoich, G. 2003. The Book of the Cailleach: Stories of the Wise-Woman Healer, Cork. Raftery, B. 1994. Pagan Celtic Ireland: The Enigma of the Irish Iron Age, London. Raftery, B. 1998. Knobbed Spearbutts Revisited. In M. Ryan (ed.) Irish Antiquities. Bray, 97-110.
Stout, M. 1997. The Irish Ringfort, Dublin. Tarzia, W. 1987. No Trespassing: Border Defence in the Táin Bó Cuailnge. Emania 3, 28-33. Tohall, P. 1951. Team Work on a Rotary Quern. Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland 81, 70-71. Waddell, J. 1998. The Prehistoric Archaeology of Ireland, Bray Wallace, A. 2006. Ratoath Final Report, Licence No. 03E1781. Unpublished Report. Warner, R. 2002. Beehive Querns and Irish ‘La Tène’ Artefacts: a Statistical Test of their Cultural Relatedness. Journal of Irish Archaeology 11, 125-130. Weir, D.A. 1995. A Palynological Study of Landscape and Agricultural Development in County Louth from the Second Millennium BC to the First Millennium AD. Discovery Programme Reports 2: Project Results 1993, Dublin, 77-126.
New Approaches to the study of Medieval Town Walls: The Waterford City Case Study Ian Johnston The town wall fortifications of Ireland are an interesting research topic for archaeologists, yet relatively few studies have been published. Past studies have in general denied the social element involved in the construction and maintenance of town walls. This paper, based on a study of the Waterford City circuit, aims to show how a greater interpretational depth can be achieved through the application of new approaches influenced by the postprocessual school. Using these new approaches to study walled towns will not only inform us about the urban monuments themselves, but also shed more light on Irish society and urbanism from the Medieval period onwards.
INTRODUCTION Existing in various lengths and sections, intermittently propping up old sheds and buildings, often hidden from the public’s eye and sometimes brought to the forefront of town life, the town wall fortifications of Ireland form an interesting study for archaeologists. Relatively few studies, however, have been published on the topic of this Irish urban phenomenon. The present corpus of literature generally interprets town walls as little more than military architecture, with a primarily defensive function. Bearing the hallmarks of a processual approach, past studies denied the social ‘agency’ involved in the construction and maintenance of town walls. Theories which sought to generalise were applied to the fifty-plus walled town in Ireland by historical geographers and military historians alike. Archaeologists too have chiefly concerned themselves with the chronologies and architectural construction of specific stretches of town walls; only publishing in local journals when commercial developments expose new areas on the circuit. This paper aims to cover two topics. Firstly to illustrate how archaeological theory has influenced the study of town walls. Secondly, to demonstrate how the application of new approaches to the subject allows for a greater interpretational depth to be achieved, influenced by the post-processual school of thought.
TOWN WALLS AND ARCHAEOLOGICAL THEORY During the mid twentieth century, archaeologists began to formally acknowledge the importance and effects of theory on archaeology. Theory not only influences why one practices archaeology, but also the methods used in practice. As Hodder and Hutson (2003, 213) stated, “monuments and material heritage play an active role in society, and archaeologists can contribute to wider debates from the perspective of their theoretical understanding”. The influence of such theories on what archaeologists publish about town walls forms an interesting area of study. The inferences made regarding town walls and their function in the past bear the hallmarks of various theoretical viewpoints. Interpretations, however, rarely penetrate beyond a certain level or towards the social
and symbolic functions of walls. Two predominant theoretical paradigms have influenced Irish archaeology in recent years, including the study of towns and their walls: the processual and post-processual schools of thought. A brief outline of the approaches used by each will allow the reader to place town wall studies into context. The Processual School: Johnson has highlighted seven key points within this school of thought (Johnson 1999, 22-26). Firstly, an emphasis on cultural evolution, which went on to influence the second trait: systems thinking. The starting point for this systemic analysis was the partition of cultural systems into various sub-systems. The division itself was based on a covering or general law that appeared to give equal weight to all sub-systems, but in reality often gave dominance to ‘material’ sub-systems (Hodder and Hutson 2003, 29). Another development was the stress on scientific approach. With the creation of general systems that could be applied to various contexts, the progress of archaeology became the extent to which these hypotheses could be scientifically tested. As this “new archaeology” became older and developed as a body of thought it became known as processualism because of its stress on cultural process, its tendency to generalise and its use of a systemic or functional models (Johnson 1999, 30). The processual approach, however, came under scrutiny in the 1980s. Hodder and Hutson (2003, 42) stress that one main reason for this was that the method assumed some specific general principles or again, its systemic approach. Firstly it assumed societies could be divided into sub-systems for separate types of activities. Secondly it assumed that objects and monuments had universal social functions, linked to their universal meanings. Objects were “wrenched out of their context and explained crossculturally” (ibid., 29). Though the theories were based on a rejection of ‘normative’ archaeology that preceded them, the processual system approach was in many ways functionalist. Beliefs and rituals were seen as rules shared by all members of social communities, with no allowance given to the fact that different people may view objects or monuments differently. This was argued to be particularly problematic when approaching topics such as the social meanings of monuments like town walls, which often had varied meanings to different people. As Hodder and Hutson point out, the approaches were not able to “account for the great richness, variability and expansiveness of ‘the system’” (ibid., 42). The Post Processual School: Just as its predecessor, the post-processual was not a collective school, but a movement away from the inherent problems with the processualists, the “breaking down of established, taken-for-granted dichotomies…it is about the opening up, not shutting down” (ibid., 215). Johnson highlights eight key points which post-processualists share in common (Johnson 1999, 102-107). Firstly, they reject the positivist view of science. To them, archaeologists can never confront data directly but instead see it through a cloud of theory and individual approaches. Interpretation is claimed to be hermeneutic; archaeologists assign meaning when they interpret things. Hodder and Hutson (2003, 208) argue that the same object could have different or conflicting meanings and post-processual archaeology allows for an adequate consideration of ‘agency’, or the variability in individual perception. Another important development showed how the role of the individual was perceived. Postprocessualists disliked the way the individual was lost in theory, largely “obscured in the discussion of systems and sub-systems as key explanatory units” (Champion 1991, 134). The new theory looked to conflict between social groups and how ordinary people experienced the landscape around them. Equally important was the developing
view of material culture and monuments resembling a text. Texts can be read by all and yet have different meanings to different people and can be actively and implicitly manipulated. Post-processualists encourage experimentation with multipleinterpretations in this regard. This has a particular resonance when applied to the study of town walls and when furthering interpretations beyond simply defensive ones. It also confirms the claim that post-processual archaeology is “strongest when broadly networked with other disciplines and most relevant when interwoven with social issues” (Hodder and Hutson 2003, 235). This must be taken into consideration when approaching the treatment of urban defences, especially in the Irish context. A distinction can be made between two trends of archaeological inquiry into this subject; one which bares the hallmarks of processualist approaches and the other which espouses more modern post-processualist ideas.
THE FUNCTIONALIST APPROACH By looking at how people have studied the walls of Waterford City, it is possible to gain an insight into how walls have been treated across Ireland in general. This is termed ‘functionalist’ because it has been the main approach used by most authors on the subject. This functionalist approach incorporates many features of the processual school, even though the researchers classified as in this group may not have seen themselves in that way. The necessity to generalise and form theories can be seen in many texts. Thomas (1992), for example, concentrated on a macro-level general survey of walled towns in Ireland. Consisting of chapter titles such as ‘Creation and Use’ and ‘Site and Location’, it is possible to identify attempts at general theories that could be applied to any town in Ireland. For example, Thomas describes towns such as Waterford, Limerick and Derry as “ridge type sites”, which were chosen and constructed for their eminently defensible position (ibid., 89). That the author concentrates on site and distribution is not surprising given that she comes from a historical-geography background. A similar book by Bradley (1995) continues the macro-level general survey theme. This short volume concentrates on Bradley’s main area of study, urbanisation in Ireland. Hence, the issue of walled towns formed only a pretext to a discussion of urban origins. Bradley’s work sees the development of urban fortifications in a strongly chronological sense (ibid., 5) and the type of defence to be found will be dictated by the era in which it was found. Both works represent generalised approaches which do not take into account the vast variability of times when and reasons why a town wall was created. Such systemic approaches, beyond functionalist interpretations, are limited in their application to town walls. Interpretations about the town itself and the people within it are often missing due to the emphasis on a processual approach. This loss of the individual formed a chief criticism of the processual school. When the role of people and society is discussed, it often refers only to the upper echelons of the town, like the mayor or aldermen. The town itself is seen as a homogenous unit; people within all thinking, reacting and expressing themselves in the same manner. This can be seen in the work of Hurley for instance, who excavated the western end of the old Viking town (Hurley, Scully, and McCutcheon 1997). The individual developments to the walled circuit are seen as communal achievements, a logical improvement endorsed by all factions of the
community as a benefit to all (ibid., 33). Such an approach mirrored writings about walled towns in general, including Bradley and Thomas; it denies the existence of different interest groups within a town. In reality, it may only be in rich merchant’s interests to create a small gate leading out to the quay through a wall. Similarly, a religious precinct might be created through the erection of a walling element around it, thus defining a specific functional space within the walls. A further criticism of the processual approach was its inability to penetrate through to deeper interpretations of archaeology (Hodder and Hutson 2003, 29). If the functionalist approaches used by archaeologists until now had largely ignored the role of the individual, how could they interpret the social and symbolic meanings of town walls to people? Thus, historians like Carroll (1984) can describe the municipal and civic functions of Reginald’s Tower without ever acknowledging its symbolic meaning to citizens of the city. In Processual archaeology the agency concept is fast encroaching into the theoretical vacuum left by the collapse of high-level systemic models, while in post-processual circles, theorists of all kinds are concerned to understand how acting, feeling and related subjects constituted themselves under circumstances beyond their full comprehension or direct control. Accordingly, “agency is the new buzz word in contemporary archaeological theory” (Dobres and Robb 2000, 1).
POST-PROCESSUAL AND NEW APPROACHES Inherent problems clearly exist regarding how archaeologists have studied walled towns in Ireland. Nonetheless it should be possible to move beyond these traditional studies to incorporate new theories and avenues of research. In this regard, the postprocessual dissatisfaction with the new archaeology theories has presented us with new and exciting methods of study. Creighton and Higham’s Medieval Town Walls: An Archaeology and Social History of Urban Defence (2005) has proven a watershed in the subject. Its recent date of publication as well as its relative uniqueness in walled town studies reflects the lack of interpretational depth that has been achieved so far in the Irish context. One of the major developments within Creighton and Higham’s book are the new approaches towards the social aspect of urban defences. Whereas the functionalist approach saw people comprising sub-systems within greater systems, Creighton and Higham argue that “the holistic study of town walls within their wider contexts can open windows into the communities who built and rebuilt them, who lived and died within and around them” (ibid., 26). Town walls clearly have much to tell us about communities, identities and structures of power within the societies that built and maintained them. This clearly fits in with the post-processual assertion of the ‘individual as active’ in the past, existing often in social groups that competed and completed on the landscape (Johnson 1999, 103). An often neglected aspect of walled town studies is the monumentality, or symbolicness of town walls. Within Murtagh’s (2005) and Hurley’s (1997) work, no weight is afforded to such considerations in Waterford’s case. In Thomas (1992) and Bradley (1995), the common processualistic mistake inherent in the systems approach is evident: assuming that objects have universal social functions and meanings (Hodder and Hutson 2003, 29). To them, the walls derived their monumentality from their function, that of defence. Higham and Creighton (2005, 35) open the study to further
possible symbolic meanings. As a symbol of power, did the walls represent the power of the lord, king, urban oligarchy, or even the collective power of the entire town? The situation in Ireland poses more varied interpretations in comparison with Britain. Existing as essentially colonial structures, the presence of a walled town on the Irish landscape was a statement of colonisation visible to all. Perhaps the most important contribution in Higham and Creighton’s book is the debate regarding why towns were walled in the first place. Smith (1985) forcibly offers the traditional and militarily influenced interpretation of defence. Coulson (1982) suggests that only the enhancement of urban prestige can explain the overall level of effort invested in town walls. But Creighton and Higham align themselves with the argument of Palliser (1995) who takes a multi-dimensional approach. Allowing that in situations extending over many centuries, motivations may have varied greatly with time, place and circumstance. All-encompassing explanations are not always possible or feasible, therefore, an emphasis is placed on the individual context of the walled town itself and its own history and development. This argument mirrors the developments in how individuals are viewed, moving from generalised theories to understanding the importance of context and variability. Creighton and Higham’s volume (2005) emphasises the importance of new approaches to the study of town walls. It is not suggested, however, that archaeologists set aside all elements of previous studies. It is essential now that, added to these enquires, is an exploration of the potential for new theories and avenues of research, like those excellently applied in the English situation by Creighton and Higham. By re-thinking how urban defences are studied, it is possible to add a social and symbolic depth to the interpretations of walls across Ireland. This will increase peoples understanding of the defensive, economic, recreational and aesthetic properties of urban defences. Creighton and Higham have shown how subjects which are sometimes considered stagnant still possess great potential for more developed research. The next section of this paper illustrates how new interpretations can be gained from a study of Waterford City’s walls.
WATERFORD CITY WALLS: CASE STUDY Waterford was chosen as a case study for a number of reasons, not lease its richness in both documentary and physical evidence, including twenty-three towers and fifteen gates. Rather than taking a pragmatic functional approach and suggesting defence was the principal reason for the existence of town walls, a more holistic approach is worthy of exploration. Such an approach allows for different individual perspectives and variations in these perspectives through time. This will be achieved by looking at both the social and the symbolic features of Waterford’s walls. Social Features Although town walls are mostly associated in the literature with defence, an important consideration is that few medieval towns spent anymore than a fraction of their history under attack. This is not to deny that town walls acted as a deterrent to any would-be attackers, they were a highly visible and functional barrier; what Mumford (1966, 172) described as “worth a whole army in defence”. It is essential, however, to remember that the town within the wall still had to function on a day-to-day basis. Faced with a
surrounding circuit wall and series of towers and gates, the members of the community within would have adapted to the presence of these structures over the course of time; real people lived within the walls. Town Gates Town walls served a number of judicial and civic functions for urban communities. In this context, the series of gates and towers located along a wall circuit become important. Just fewer than thirty town wall gates survive in Ireland, most as isolated structures, yet cartographic evidence suggests that many towns originally possessed quite a number of gates. Town gates were critical points on a wall and most, on primary routes into the town, featured the finest architectural detail on the circuit, as Moore’s excavation of St. Martin’s Gate in Waterford highlights (Moore 1982). Overall, it is clear that while town gates were defensive features, they were not designed to be primarily defensible. Gates were usually the most expensive and best maintained parts of a wall. Their architecture was not simply functional, but often had symbolic undertones. Far from being purely utilitarian features, “these frequently incorporated complex iconographic elements, proclaiming the apparent wealth, status, identity and independence of urban communities to travellers and traders” (Creighton and Higham 2005, 36). Smith (1746, 188) notes of Waterford’s most elaborate gate, St. John’s, “on the outside, cut in stone, are the arms of King Henry VIII. In this gate it is said, the family of the Wises held a Court-Leet, when they enjoyed a Manor-privilege in this part of the town”. Kostof (1992, 36) suggests that gates might also be the location of, or be named after, actual cult-centres, therefore acquiring “honorific status”. Gates held a wider significance as judicial symbols. Being designated ‘public’ places, the spaces immediately inside and outside the gates provided not only the focus for processions and pageants, but also for “conspicuous warnings about the consequences of wrongdoing” (Creighton and Higham 2005, 171). Occasionally, stocks and other types of punishment facilities and execution paraphernalia were located immediately outside the gates. There was also the infamous custom of displaying the heads of traitors on gates, which usually occurred after a person had been hung, drawn and quartered. This vivisection was carried out in public and was designated to act as a deterrent to other public potential malefactors. Ó Donnabháin (1995, 13) describes the act in detail: The torso was then cut into four portions. Both head and quarters were mounted on the city walls and gates (heads were sometimes initially pre-boiled in heavily salted water to impede decay and to discourage birds from feeding on the remains. The quartering and display of the body parts brought the risk of eternal damnation for the executed individual in an era when the idea of a corporal resurrection would have been taken very seriously (ibid., 13). It is not surprising, then, that the entrances to towns and cities were festooned with these grisly trophies, with various, known examples from Ireland (Fig. 1). A print published in London in 1608 shows the head of Sir Cahir O’ Doherty mounted on a spike over Newgate in Dublin. The plan of the city of Cork published in 1633 by Stafford in his Pacta Hibernia shows three heads mounted on the tower at North Gate Bridge. The fourteenth century seal of the town of Athenry shows two severed heads over a town gate and commemorates the victory of
the Anglo-Irish over a federation of Connaught chieftains at the Battle of Athenry in 1316.
Figure 1 - A woodcut by John Derrick depicting Sir Henry Sidney exiting Dublin Castle under the gaze of the heads impaled on spikes from his 1581work entitled “The Image of Irelande” printed in London.
Social Fragmentation Just as it is possible to identify elements of communality in the supposedly ‘private’ castle fortifications, so is it possible to note elements of private interest in the supposedly ‘communal’ defended town. While town defences were more obviously communal than private in nature, they still represented “a response to the needs of social elites as much as other forms of medieval fortification, with rulers, lords, wealthy merchants and urban authorities becoming a major driving force behind the construction of town walls” (Creighton and Higham 2005, 21). Town walls can represent the sometimes complementary and sometimes competing interests of a range of social groups and elites. Thus, walled areas within towns, as well as stretches of the walls themselves, might actually be quite fragmented, both physically and socially. Waterford’s circuit provides a good example of this social phenomenon. Private Pursuits An important but often underestimated dimension to the social history of medieval town walls, is the manner in which aspects of the ownership and maintenance of defences were contested between different interest groups. Town walls could “act as arenas where power plays between different sectors of the urban community were acted out” (ibid., 171). One way in which the privileged status of certain parts of urban society might be reflected in the physical topography of town walls was through petitioning to create small gates. These provided access to the extramural zone in a manner not available to the population at large. A good example includes those minor gates or posterns built to provide for relevant sectors of urban communities, especially merchants who had access to harbours, waterways and fisheries. Arguably, in
Waterford’s case there may have been as many as five such privately controlled gates along the quay wall. The circuit was completed after the 1370s attack on the city, many years after the rest of the circuit. With no established gates along this section, merchants were quick to re-open parts of the wall to allow easier movement of goods and avoid having to enter the quay from the Barronstrand Street area. Perhaps the urban authorities had tolerated this development since no enemy had taken the city by water since the twelfth century. More evidence can be seen in the physical structure of the gates. By comparison with the symbolic entrances located at St. John’s or St. Patrick’s Gate, these new gates were simple arched openings in the wall. The Great Key Gate at the north end of modern Exchange Street, for example, was the through way between the quay and the corn market, market house and Custom house (Bradley, Halpin and King 1989, 202). A “Goose his gate” is referred to in 1657, a good indication of private ownership (Pender 1947, 173). In 1477 the corporation ordered “all the gates by the Keyes of the citie” to be shut at night and all the owners of each gate to make a grate of iron to protect them (Byrne 2004, 312-3). Colbeck’s Gate was really little more than a “semi-private Gate in as much as it served only St. Catherine’s Abbey which stood on an island in the great marsh” (Power 1943, 124). Permission to “break the city wall” at a certain point in 1694 is recorded near Reginald’s Tower, but “breaches in the wall to press herrings” were disallowed in 1698-9, a rather unusual use and probably not a very pleasant one (Thomas 1992, 128). “As well as structuring the physical development of townscapes, town walls were clearly a powerful influence on their social geographies” (Creighton and Higham 2005, 175). Symbolic Features “There can be no doubting that walls served many purposes, but perhaps as much as anything, they were a status symbol, a visually overwhelming symbol of a city’s power and prosperity” (Girouard 1985, 61). How people interacted with town walls is closely related to the symbolic meanings communities held for the defences. In a movement away from previous studies, it is possible to question what Waterford’s walls represented, not just from a general symbolic view, but to distinguish between views of the people living within the walls and those who lived outside them. Power and Status The individuals and authorities who built, owned and maintained these sites, did so for a variety of reasons. These went some way beyond the simple need for security and defence “but included, to different extents, the desire to display prestige, wealth and social status” (Creighton and Higham 2005, 165). This is demonstrated by the creation of private gates and private dwelling places within gates and towers and through the creation of urban precincts such as church or hospital grounds. For many of the urban oligarchies or power holders, walls represented their stake or claim to power within the town. Many prestigious groups chose to locate within the walled area of a town; the existence of guildhalls being a primary example. The power of the lords, kings, urban oligarchies, and the collective power of the entire community was dependant on the walls. Even for the least powerful individual living within the walled enceinte, there must have been a certain prestige to exist in an urban rather than a rural place, the defended centre rather than the unsafe countryside.
Views of those Outside the Town To the native Irish, a walled town symbolised in a very real and physical sense the success of the English colonial conquest. This clear contrast between how insiders and outsiders viewed their position manifests itself in the series of urban laws passed in the middle ages. The native Irish outside were considered enemies of the English. The Dublin Government was forced to allow trade with the native Irish as the gradual isolation and the approaching frontier of the diminishing colony became facts of life in the fourteenth century. Indeed, in 1463 it was agreed in Parliament that “the profit of every market, city and town in this land depends principally on the resort of Irish people bringing their merchandise to the said cities and towns” (Lyndon 1980, 8). There were continued attempts to demonstrate evidence of Irish acceptance of the English centralised government by having the Irish dressed in an English manner. To achieve this, statutes were passed in major towns such as Galway and Waterford in an attempt to preserve ‘Englishness’ within urban areas that were becoming increasingly swamped by ‘Gaelicness’. Dublin, for example, in contemporary literature from authors like Geraldus Cambrensis (1175) and Edmund Spenser (1633) attempted to portray the native Irish in a barbaric light by the way they described their dress, physical appearance, economy, social structure, and their religion, especially after the reformation. The distinctiveness of Irish dress (Fig. 2) displeased the English administrators in Ireland. In 1462 a tax was passed on all mantles brought into Galway and from the 29th September 1466 “any man found wearing a mantle for his daily garment is to be fined sixpence” (Dunlevy 1989, 35). Town officials were clearly only prepared to deal with the Irish on their own terms. To the native Irish, towns may have symbolised places of oppression in both physical and cultural terms, to pass inside the towns gates meant submission to many English laws.
Figure 2 - A panel on the side of John Speed’s map of Ireland (1610). The English style dress is clearly associated with the ‘gentle’ man and woman. The Irish style of dress, the mantle, is clearly associated with the ‘wild’ man and woman.
Monumentality Whatever ones allegiance whilst viewing a walled town, one feature that must surely have had an impact on communities was the sheer monumentality of the structure facing them. While late medieval and early modern town maps may not contain details of town walls that can be relied on as evidence of their exact topographies and architectural qualities, they do provide “unique opportunities to illuminate how walled circuits were perceived in contemporary minds” (Creighton and Higham 2005, 167). The 1591 York map of Waterford and the 1399 Italian map of Europe (Fig. 3), show just how prominently the town walls of the particular town were symbolised as its main feature. Today we can only imagine how a medieval ship sailing up the River Suir would have viewed the imposing spectacle, a walled town growing in statue as it approached.
Figure 3 - Printed in 1599 in Italy, this map is important for a number of reasons. Not only does it highlight the importance of Waterford as a trading port by depicting it as the only town in Ireland, located on the most important trading river, but it also represents all the major towns in Europe as defended. It is interesting that the monumentality of town walls was used to depict these towns. (Map courtesy of Waterford Museum of Treasures).
The image of the walled city is one of the default representations of urbanism throughout time; even the ancient Egyptian hieroglyph meaning ‘city’, took the form of a cross, representing the streets, within a circle, representing the wall around it. Representations of Jerusalem and Rome consistently depict walls and lent cohesion to the urban image (Rosenau 1983, 26-32). Such representations frequently imbued the physical attributes of the city with religious and moral significance. Indeed, Duffy (1979, 255) has described the images conjured up by a walled defence as being “categorised variously as the dramatic, the spooky, the sexual and the quasi-religious”. Medieval town seals which incorporate elements of towns’ defences are similarly important forms of evidence, providing some indication of how medieval communities conceptualised a walled town. Even today, towns such as Cork, Dublin, Armagh and
Cashel have county crests that display their walled heritage (Collins 1997, 130). When attached to documents in medieval times, seals or symbols “advertised the wealth and protection available to citizens and traders” (Thomas 1992, 11).
CONCLUSION This paper has highlighted new interpretations, beyond those primarily of defence, which can be obtained from an in-depth study of one Irish walled town, Waterford City. It has not been the intention to polarise the argument for the serious defensive functions of town walls on the one hand and issues that emphasise symbolism and status on the other. Such a debate would only hinder and limit the basis for multi-faceted interpretations and explanations appropriate to the spatial, chronological and social diversity that the subject deserves. It is crucial that an artificial distinction between fortifications built for utilitarian reasons and others built to impress is not created. “There was, in reality, a continuous spectrum of emphasis from one extreme to the other, commonly with both qualities existing side by side in one place” (Creighton and Higham 2005, 165). In Ireland, archaeologists and historians have yet to fully embrace new theories of the ways in which past communities lived and interacted with walled towns. The existing literature in the form of excavation reports, periodical journals and general surveys underline this point. When archaeologists do begin to fully incorporate all avenues of interpretation, it is fundamental that they integrate both past and new interpretations, avoiding the creation of false dichotomies. Town walls were to some “indeed symbols of power, pride and prosperity; to others who lived both within and beyond them, they were monuments of oppression (perhaps representing the dominance of a colonial authority) and repression (for example, symbolising seigniorial control over tenants) or just rather inconvenient; and to others still they might on occasion provide real and much-needed protection” (ibid., 249). There is clearly room for further scope and work on this topic. The archaeology of Ireland’s medieval walls would improve as a database of knowledge, whereas the towns themselves could benefit from an attempt to question what value their walled heritage has for them. With the beginning of such a work, Irish archaeologists would truly be in a position to start comparing and contrasting their medieval walled experience with Britain, and further across into Europe.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS I wish to extend my thanks to Mr. Mick Monk who supervised my MA thesis upon which this paper based. I also wish to thank Eamonn McEneaney of the Waterford Museum of Treasures for his input and advice.
BIBLIOGRAPHY Bradley, J. 1995. Walled Towns in Ireland, Dublin. Bradley, J., Halpin, A. and King, S., 1989. Urban Archaeological Survey of Waterford City and County, Waterford. Byrne, N. 2004 (trans). Liber Antiquissimus Civitatis Waterfordiae. Unpublished PhD Thesis, University College Cork. Carroll, J.S. 1984. Reginald’s Tower. Decies 27, 22-27. Champion, T.C. 1991. Theoretical Archaeology in Britain. In I. Hodder (ed.) Archaeological Theory in Europe: The Last Three Decades. London, 129-160. Collins, T. 1997. The Medieval Town Defences of Cashel. Tipperary Historical Journal 10, 124-130. Coulson, C. 1982. Hierachism in Conventual Crenellation. Medieval Archaeology 26, 69-100. Creighton, O. and Higham, R. 2005. Medieval Town Walls: An Archaeology and Social History of Urban Defence, Gloucestershire. Dobres, M.A. and Robb, J.E. 2000. Agency in Archaeology, London. Dunlevy, M. 1989. Dress in Ireland, London Girouard, M. 1985. Cities and People: A Social and Architectural History, Yale. Hodder, I and Hutson, S. 2003. Reading the Past: Current Approaches to Interpretation in Archaeology, Cambridge. Hurley, M.F., Scully, O.M.B., with McCutcheon, S.J. 1997. Late Viking Age and Medieval Waterford: Excavations 1986 – 92, Waterford. Johnson, M. 1999. Archaeological Theory: An Introduction, Oxford. Kostof, S. 1992. The City Assembled, London. Lyndon, J. 1980. The City of Waterford in the Later Middle Ages. Decies 26, 5-12. Moore, M. 1982. City Walls and Gateway at the Site of St. Martin’s Castle. Decies 23, 50-61. Mumford, L. 1966. The City in History: Its Origins, Its Transformations and Its Prospects, New York. Murtagh, B. 2005. The Work at the Double Tower, Waterford. Decies 60, 1-19. Ó Donnabháin, B. 1995. Monuments of Shame – Some Probable Trophy Heads From Medieval Dublin. Archaeology Ireland 9(4), 12-15. Palliser, D.M. 1995. The Cambridge Urban History of Britain, Cambridge. Pender, S. (ed.) 1947. Studies in Waterford History IV: the old council books of the corporation of Waterford: vol 1. Journal of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society 52, 14977. Power, C. 1943. The Town Wall of Waterford. Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland 23, 118-36. Rosenau, H. 1983 (3rd edition). The Ideal City: Its Archaeological Evolution in Europe, London. Smith, C. 1969. The Ancient and Present State of the County and City of Waterford (1746), Dublin. Smith, T.P. 1985. Why did Medieval Towns have Walls?. Current Archaeology 8, 376-9. Thomas, A. 1992. The Walled Towns of Ireland, Dublin.
The Fortified Houses of County Cork: origin, fabric, form, function and social use of space Joe Nunan This analysis of the origin, fabric, form, function and social use of space of the fortified houses in county Cork examines some of the changes that took place within Irish society in the late medieval and early modern period. The rise and decline of the fortified house reflects the passing of the Irish social, political, military and religious (Catholic) order and the rise of the new English elite determined to settle in Ireland. The builder/owners of fortified houses were the elites of Irish society who needed to secure and protect their property and valuables. The fortified house met the para-military and residential need of early seventeenth-century Ireland. It was a uniquely Irish architectural form that bridged the transition from tower-house building to the emergence of the undefended Irish country manor. It can be defined as the initial architectural form that identifies Irelandâ€™s move from the medieval to the modern world.
INTRODUCTION Over the past six decades studies concerning Irish fortified houses have identified them as a transitional genre that emerged at the end of the sixteenth century and acted as an architectural bridge between the Irish medieval tower-house and the country manor house of the late seventeenth century. The fortified house drew on the earlier tradition of the tower-house and was influenced by the Tudor and emerging Jacobean architecture from England and also the Classical and Military architecture coming from Continental Europe. The social, political and military changes that took place from the 1580s to 1650s, were to play a major role in the development of this unique Irish structure. These houses provided a comfortable living space for the elite of early seventeenth-century Irish society, they were fashionable yet defendable. The fortified house also represented a public display of power and wealth. They represented a long-term investment in their ownerâ€™s regional future and were monuments to an aspiration for an English and Continental house style suited to local Irish conditions. On a basic level the construction of a fortified house represented the owners desire to modernise and Anglicize.
ORIGINS The introduction of Tudor architectural forms into Ireland was influenced by the influx of British settlers during the latter half of the sixteenth century, especially throughout Munster. This was a period when New English settlers were arriving in large numbers establishing new towns and villages, initially within the plantation zone, but then rapidly expanding beyond the official regions by acquiring properties through various commercial and political activities. Classical architectural designs reached Ireland in a
variety of ways; the sons of the Irish nobility were educated abroad during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries; Irishmen also traveled to Europe to join Continental armies or religious orders and in the process were exposed to classical architectural forms. The oblong residential building, with projecting corner-towers, square, round and octagonal, was a recurrent theme in English architecture from the thirteenth to the seventeenth century. In England by the mid-sixteenth century these structures, cast in a para-military mould, had little or no defensive significance and were designed with aesthetics rather than functionality in mind. The corner-towers and bastions integrated into the design of many English houses were to become functional elements on the Irish houses. Ireland was an unstable and dangerous country by the seventeenth century; the elite of Irish society provided their own protection and the military features incorporated into the fortified house were sufficient to meet their defensive need. Many of the military elements were taken directly from the tower-house, as they had been effective deterrents against would-be attackers. The vast majority of fortified houses were located within the rural landscape and situated outside the security of the walled towns. This made them susceptible to local banditry and the occasional cattle raid, or to attack in times of rebellion. For those Irish elite living beyond the walled town, the insecure, hostile and unpredictable nature of life in rural early seventeenth-century Ireland was an incentive to provide for their own security. Features such as bartizans, machicolations, wall walks with parapets, corner towers and the provision of many gun loops, were used to secure the fortified houses. The bawn wall with towers and corner-tower was an effective defensive structure used to protect both the inhabitants and the houses. On later built houses the defences moved away from the house and out onto the bawn walls. The walls were provided with many gun loops, their towers and corner-towers were also multilooped.
FABRIC Individual house-styles and plans varied within regions, but ultimately, the fortified houses had an overall Irish architectural quality to them. This resulted from the use of local craftsmen and materials and the incorporation of architectural detail from the towerhouse. The builders were mostly restricted to the materials close at hand, with the choice of construction material dictated by the raw materials available within the immediate area. Outside resources were utilized but transportation by land of heavy, bulky and large amounts of building material was generally difficult given the infrastructure of the day. Over-land carriage was slow and expensive, adding great cost to any building enterprise. Water transport was easier and less expensive and the majority of county Cork houses were situated close to or near a water source (Fig.1). No matter how well placed a building site was in relation to waterways, some land carriage was always necessary, if only to transport the building material from riverside to the site. Glass, lead and some slate or carved stone may not have been produced locally and would have been transported to the various house sites. The distribution of stone built houses correlate to reliable water transportation. According to Airs (1995) the availability of good transportation routes by water seems to have been a critical element when considering the
use of quarries more than a few miles from the building project. Many of the houses reflect the geological distribution of available stone within a given region and the stone used was probably a combination of locally quarried, re-used and purchased stone. Brick was rarely used as a building material on Irish fortified houses as it was difficult to manufacture due to the wet climate and a reliable supply could never be guaranteed. A limited quantity was used at Mallow, Aghhadown and Ballyannan and may have come through the southern ports as ships ballast.
Figure 1 â€“ Fortified house distribution in County Cork. Many of the houses were located close to major rivers and coastline (ÂŠ J. Nunan).
The buildings originally had timber flooring; some floors were carried on a series of wooden beams set within wall sockets, others were carried on corbels. Looking at a floorless fortified house the missing floor levels were usually situated 50-60cm over the corbels. Floors were also carried on scarcements, narrow ledges on the walls where the upper part was set back. The Cork houses had a combination of wall sockets, scarcements and corbels, with the former two being the most common. Oak was employed for the structural timberwork, possibly unseasoned for roofing and seasoned for interior features, such as floorboards, stairs and panelling. Seasoning was expensive and time consuming; it required a degree of organization and pre-planning on behalf of the builder to calculate the amount of seasoned timber required for construction. It has been estimated that a trunk of oak required a years seasoning for each inch of thickness plus an additional year for every three inches of total thickness (Airs 1995, 119); very few builders would have been able to plan their complete timber supply that far in advance. The Cork houses do not retain any of their original roofing material, but the surviving structures do give some indication as to the type of roofing that may have been used. At the fortified house complex of Dromanneen a partial limestone roof slate was identified
lying on the basement floor, it may have been a damaged slate that was incorporated into the masonry work or it may have fallen from the house when it was de-roofed (Fig. 2). It was similar to the roof tiles dating to c.1641 uncovered during excavations within the grounds of Limerick Castle (Wiggins 2000). At Ightermurragh a sandstone roof slate was identified in the basement below the main entrance door (Fig.3) and at Baltimore numerous limestone roof tiles were uncovered during excavations in 2002. Stone houses with slate roofs were being built in Munster in the early decades of the seventeenth century; Boyle’s leases in Kinalmeaky and Carbery Co. Cork included precise instructions concerning the type of houses that were to be built with stone chimneys and slated roofs (MacCarthy-Morrogh 1986). North Devon decorated ridge tiles, however, were used at Baltimore (Eamonn Cotter pers. comm.) and these can be dated to the seventeenth century, after which there was a decline in their production with an increase in the production and use of plain ridge tiles. North Devon Gravel-tempered ridge tiles were found on excavations in Cork city at Philips’ Lane and Grattan Street. Some of these tiles had thumbed dressing, low cockscomb cresting and incised decorations on their exterior face (Wren 2003) and were probably imported into Munster through the various port towns. Finally, lead was used for roofing and rain water systems as it was the only material capable of keeping rain water out. Lead was rust free, malleable, but expensive and it was probably used on the roof at Mallow where according to Leask (1941), quantities of molten lead and fragments of thick, small slate were found during renovations.
Figure 2 – Roof slate from Dromaneen. (© J. Nunan)
Figure 3 – Roof slate from Ightermurragh (© J. Nunan)
Naturally, many other materials also went into the make up of a finished house. Stone was bound together by mortar, consisting mostly of lime and sand. This was mixed with water, beaten, covered with sand and left to stand. The standing periods may have been as long as several months. Burning limestone produced lime for mortar and plaster. Other binding materials may also have been used, such as cement made of mixed wax and resin, which had been utilized in the medieval period for masonry that was exposed to dampness. Another method designed to produce mortar resistant to the influences of moisture, involved the insertion of crushed marine shells into the mix. This was not the
only method used to insulate the interior from rainwater seepage and from the damp climate prevalent in Munster. On some of the house sites in East and West Cork there were remnants of very thin slate-tiles attached to sections of the exterior wall with iron nails and gravel or lime mortar. Such features can be found at Kill-St-Anne South, Aghadown and Monkstown. There is very little information available on interior plasterwork and any information obtained comes from what still remains on the buildings. Plaster was used in large quantities for walls and ceilings; much of the plaster was composed of lime-sand and strengthened with chopped straw, hair, woodchip or dung. The remnants of a decorative plasterwork scheme were identified at Mountlong, representing scriptural subjects and field sports (Fuller 1907). Pieces of interior wall plaster can be found at most house sites in Co. Cork and where sufficient plasterwork remains, rooms, wall partitions and halls and stairs can possibly be identified. The large rectangular window was a distinctive and common feature of the fortified house (Fig. 4). The window surrounds were framed with cut stone; these frames contained vertical and horizontal inserts (mullion and transom) which were rebated for glass to secured paneled frames. Many of these mullion and transom windows were of a cavetto-type design. As a general rule the larger windows were those at some distance above the ground floor. At ground floor and basement level many of the openings on the outer wall were, for obvious reasons, of narrow width towards the outside and splayed inwards. Windows of this kind were commonly found on the lower levels of the buildings and on their projecting towers. The original window lintels were either large stone slabs or rectangular planks of cut oak. Many of the lintels were removed from the houses over the centuries. Some were destroyed by fire, or fell out while others were taken and reused elsewhere. At Ightermurragh, Kilmaclenine and Kill-St-Anne South, the lintels either fell out or were taken, while according to tradition, at Mountlong, the house was burnt by its owner in 1643 (Fuller 1907), with a number of the wooden lintels surviving in-situ, some showing signs of burning.
Figure 4 â€“ The large rectangular window was a distinctive feature of the fortified house (ÂŠ J. Nunan).
FORM The majority of the Co. Cork houses were of two or three storeys, with attic and towers, usually above a basement. String-courses sometimes marked the stages of the building, identifying the internal floor level on the external face. While the central-plan of the fortified house was rectangular, there were many variations on that design, including Ushaped, L-shaped, X-, Y-, Z- and cruciform plans. Mountlong, Ballyvireen and Kilmaclenine have identifiable X-, Y- and cruciform plans (Fig. 5). The Z-plan was most prevalent in Ulster, a probable influence from the second phase of the 'Scottish towerhouse' tradition. Ballyannan is the only surviving fortified house in Co. Cork with an original Z-plan layout. The six fortified houses in West Cork all varied in plan. In North Cork there was no predominant plan type, while this situation was similar in East and South Cork. The house plans in West Cork were the most varied, followed by East Cork and finally North Cork. Overall, the X-shape was most prevalent and the T-, U- and Zplans were least common. Why a particular shape was chosen is difficult to ascertain. Was it an architectural fashion, a display of power, of wealth, an embrace of the new, a break with the past or a security issue? In reality it was probably a combination of all.
Figure 5 â€“ Cruciform plan of Kilmaclenine fortified house in North Cork (after Nunan 2005).
DEFENCE These houses were clearly constructed with defence in mind. They were generally provided with pistol and musket loops. The loops for firearms are found at doorways, in the projecting bays under windows and on corner towers. Many houses had defences at higher elevations, taking the form of roof parapets, machicolations and bartizans, with the projecting features specifically placed to command views of exposed angles and entrances. Above the longer walls at Paal East, a series of corbels provided seating for a continuous machicolation defensive platform. In county Cork stone built machicolations and bartizans are frequent and are found on fifty per sent of the fortified house sites. Battlement parapets with their crenellations and merlons rarely survive as they were slight in construction and easily destroyed. Some that do remain can be found at Mountlong, Monkstown, Castlelands and Ardcloyne. Behind the parapet was the allure or wall walk and these were drained by outwardly sloping slabs that delivered through rectangular outlets along the base of the parapet. They were also furnished with projecting dripstones. The surviving machicolations were borne by lintels or arches resting on corbels. A very common form of corbel was the long, narrow, inverted pyramid that was either straight sided or slightly incurved. Pistol and musket loops were found on the walls, towers, machicolations and bartizans of the houses. The gun loop holes assume various forms. Commonly a hole-base was circular or semi-circular for the mouth of the piece, while the upper section remained a vertical slot for sighting, the admission of light and the escape of smoke. Frequently, the circular, semi-circular and vertical slot were to be found as individual stand-alone features on a wall face, tower or beneath a window opening. The gun loops on a number of Cork house sites were incorporated into their window features, embedded directly under a window or within either side of a window bay (for e.g. Dromaneen). Internally the openings were set within square or rectangular splayed embrasures and were commonly situated on the ground and first floor level, however, some are found higher up. Fortified houses were usually situated within a courtyard or bawn wall. The bawn wall formed an outer defensive line and was mainly provided with a gatehouse, flankers and loops for firearms. The existence of the bawn is difficult to demonstrate since their walls were less robust than the houses themselves and easily removed. The remains of a large trapezoidal enclosure with corner-towers and semi-circular projections at mid point still survive at Dromaneen. At Ballinterry and Mossgrove partial bawn walls and towers survive, while at Baltimore only parts of the wall survive. It can be inferred that a bawn existed at Paal East, Castlelands and Lissgriffin, where some of the walls on these houses lack defensive features, indicating those sides lay within a bawn wall. Furthermore, the standing gable at Lisgriffin incorporates three large projecting stones, positioned between the ground and first floor levels, suggesting a bawn wall was keyed into the house at that location.
SOCIAL USE OF SPACE The internal arrangement of many of the Co. Cork houses can seldom be fully recovered. There are reasons why this is the case. Many of the houses were damaged, destroyed and abandoned and there has been little, if any, continuity of occupation. Timber and plaster were the principal materials used to frame and partition the interior of these buildings, with little of either material surviving. Where there were floors some corbels, sockets and scarcements remain, their positions revealing each floor level. Overall, forty-six per cent of houses had identifiable basements situated in corner-towers or within sections of the main block. When the basements were located within the main block they did not cover the entire floor space. They were commonly situated at a gable-end, extending the full width of the block and covering approximately one-third of the blocks length. There were exceptions however and at Castlelands the basement was located centrally within the main block. There are two surviving examples of basements situated within cornertowers and both are found at house sites in West Cork (Aghadown and Ballyvireen). One surviving basement with a separate external entrance survives at Ightermurragh, all others may have been accessed from within the buildings. Initially, the kitchen was situated within the main block, but as ancillary buildings were added some kitchens and bake houses were moved into these buildings. This happened at Ballyannan, Ballyvireen, Castlelands and possibly at Dromaneen. The kitchens are identified by the presence of large fireplaces and bread ovens and were located in the basement or on the ground floor. Besides the basement, the ground floor was generally the least comfortable area of the house, acting as a functional space provided with kitchens, storage and defence. The ground floor contained more gun loops than those found on each individual floor above, as well as having fewer and smaller windows. It was also an area provided with less light and poor ventilation. The main dining, living and sleeping areas were situated on the floors above the basement and ground floor level. The upper floors; first, second, occasionally a third and always an attic, contained numerous fireplaces and many large rectangular windows. The fireplaces were always situated close to a window on the floors above ground level. Elaborate or carved fireplaces signified an important room, perhaps a solar, a chief private apartment, or a dining hall. Identifying individual rooms can be difficult, however, when sufficient wall plaster remains, combined with door, window and fireplace locations, an interpretation of space can be inferred. Within the main block, floor levels were sometimes partitioned into at least two main rooms. At Ightermurragh the shadow of a timber partition frame can be located on the wall plaster. At Dromaneen and Castlelands, a stone wall remains in-situ, defining the limits of their basements and partitioning the ground and first floor level of the main block into two separate areas. At Mountlong a division was unlikely in view of the small size of the main block and the continuous shadow of some decorative plasterwork on all remaining walls at first floor level. Little visible evidence survives for timber partitions on the other surveyed sites, but a division of the main floors into two chambers may be inferred from fireplace positions at Kilmaclenine. Overall, the sub-division of the living space and the use of decorative plasterwork reflect an increased desire for privacy and comfort.
In some of the houses the stairs were positioned within the main block, others were fixed inside a central projection, while more held the staircase within one of the corner-towers. At Ballyvireen the south tower contained the stairwell and it was identified externally by the considerable amount of varied and staggered window lights on the south gable wall. Internally, wall plaster preserved the outline of what appeared to have been a newel stairs. At Ballyannan the stairwell was located in a rectangular projection west of the main block and the surviving wall plaster outlines a staircase of scale-and-platt construction. At Ighertmurragh the north-central projection contained a newel staircase identified by the shadow on the remaining wall plaster. Externally, window lights were situated on all three walls of the tower and were stepped. At Castlelands the initial staircase was spiral and keyed into the northwest corner-tower. The stairs at Paal East was located in the northeast corner-tower and was identified externally by the stepped windows rising from east to south. The internal wall plaster did not survive but the wall sockets remain and the stairs was a probable newel-type construction with a landing at each corner. At Dromaneen there were some plaster remains on the south wall of the main block over the basement. A stairs was located here and a number of sockets, rising up from the ground to the second floor level, were identified. All of the stairways were constructed of timber, and none are known to have survived in Co. Cork. A surviving example of a seventeenth century staircase, once the main centerpiece of Eyrecourt house, Co. Galway, had three landings and two flights ascending to a common landing where they joined to form one flight to the upper floor. It was a massive staircase carved in leaves, antics and with many masks hidden among the woodwork. This staircase is now stored in the Detroit Institute of Arts (Loeber 1973). It may well be that some of the fortified houses had similar decorative carved staircases, acting as centerpieces and complimenting the carved door and fireplace surrounds.
CONCLUSION The groundwork to present studies on fortified house was comprehensively mapped by H.G. Leask (1941) in Irish Castles and Castellated Houses. Leask identified the most architecturally significant buildings in Munster, including Burntcourt, Co. Tipperary, Mallow Castle (Castlelands), Kanturk Castle (Paal East), Monkstown and Coppingersâ€™ Court (Ballyvireen) in Co. Cork. In his work he collated a lot of primary evidence, making the subsequent study of such buildings possible. The fortified houses built in Co. Cork had a unique Irish architectural quality and a distinct southern English look and feel; the result of contacts built up between both regions, politically through plantationimmigration and economically, through trade with the port and fishing towns of Waterford, Cork, Kinsale, Youghal and Baltimore. The social changes that took place in Tudor England were reflected in architectural form by the elites in that society and it was the latter who spearheaded the Munster plantations. They were noblemen who viewed Munster as another region within a larger England and it was through these individuals that the initial architectural influence of the many gabled, oblong country manors with circular, square, rectangular and hexagonal corner-towers was introduced into Co. Cork.
Fortified house layout was, in some respect, a product of late sixteenth and early seventeenth-century Anglicization, but there was also much and varied contact between the Irish elite and continental Europe. The beauty and elegance of classical continental architectural forms was not lost on the Irish nobility who had frequent contact with mainland Europe. The fortified houses did not leave behind their association with the tower-house and incorporated the defensive features of these into their design. Overall, they were symmetrical in plan, with many large windows and were ventilated and heated with many fireplaces. The fortified houses of Co. Cork were principally clustered within two main areas; along the Blackwater river valley and the Co. Cork coastline. Further analysis shows that they were divided into sub-regions; the estuary into Cork harbour and Kinsale port, within the cattle grazing pasture lands of North and East Cork and on the fishing coast of West Cork. All were built close to natural hardwood forests, within limestone or sandstone areas and on the major transportation routes that accessed the principle port towns. The shape, size and plan of the houses were in harmony with a seventeenth century desire for uniformity, domestic comfort and luxury. Some of the houses had similar design plans, while others had decorative elements that were identifiable on one or more sites. Some staircase types were identified from the remaining wall plaster within corner and projecting-towers. The more prestigious rooms were identified by the wrought-stone and carved fire and door surrounds and by large window lights. These high status rooms were usually located on the first or second floor. The kitchens were located by their very large fireplaces and bread ovens, mostly on the ground floors and usually situated next to the entrance to and from the stairwell, allowing quick and easy access to the dining and private room above. The Dining Hall was usually located at the level above the kitchen. The storage and defensive areas were identified by their smaller window lights, gun loops, lack of fireplaces and their proximity to the basement and rooftops. Overall, the construction of a fortified house was a large-scale undertaking. Specialised craftsmen and manual labour was required. Building materials and general supplies had to be purchased and transported to the sites. Within this dynamic work environment there must have been active exchanges of ideas between all involved. The study, survey and analysis of the origins, fabric and function of the Irish fortified house provides valuable insights into a time, people and society that have long since passed. Nevertheless, research into the Irish fortified house needs to be continued and further developed in order to build on the current level of knowledge.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS Special thanks to Kerri Cleary, Dr. Colin Rynne and Dr. James Lyttleton, Department of Archaeology, University College Cork. I also owe a big thank you to the AYIA for generously supporting this publication.
BIBLIOGRAPHY Airs, M. 1995. The Tudor and Jacobean Country House a Building History, Gloucestershire. Fuller, J.F. 1907. Kinsale in 1641 and 1642. Journal of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society 3, 383-5. Leask, H.G. 1941. Irish Castles and Castellated Houses, Dundalk. Loeber, R. 1973. Irish Country Houses and Castles of the Late Carline Period: An Unremembered Past Recaptured. The Irish Georgian Society 16, 1-69. MacCarthy-Morrogh, M. 1986. The Munster Plantation English Migration to Southern Ireland 1583-1641, Oxford. Nunan, J. 2005. The Fortified Houses of County Cork: Origin, Form, Fabric, Function and Social use of Space. Unpublished MA Thesis, University College Cork. Wiggins, K. 2000. Anatomy of a Siege: Kings John's Castle, Limerick, 1642, Bray. Wren, J. 2003. Clay Building Materials. In R.M. Cleary and M.F. Hurley (eds) Excavations in Cork City 1984-2000. Cork, 236-245.
International Organisations and Legislation Affecting the Underwater Cultural Heritage. Aisling Tierney This paper examines the organisations and policies that affect underwater archaeology at an international level. International waters are currently governed by the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, but will elements of that change with the adoption of the 2001 UNESCO Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage? What are the different aims of these pieces of legislation and how do they affect the underwater cultural heritage? Is there any evidence for countries adopting the goals of UNESCO or are they too idealistic? The 2001 UNESCO Convention places a greater emphasis on the protection of the material remains of the past than the 1982 Law of the Sea. It sets forth more specific guidelines and recommendations on how to protect archaeological remains.
INTRODUCTION Threats to underwater cultural heritage have been present for generations, but with advancing technology more dangers are being imposed on these sensitive sites. The development of scuba diving has allowed greater open access to the underwater world, and more recently, advanced robotics are pushing human beings deeper underwater to previously inaccessible areas of the seabed. As in dry-land archaeology, the modern use of the underwater sites does not always help with the protection of archaeologically important areas. Activities such as pipe-laying, dredging, drilling, net-dragging, scuba-diving, treasure-hunting and salvage operations can all negatively impact on our underwater archaeology. There is therefore a need for legislative measures to protect the underwater cultural heritage.
TERRITORIAL ZONES & INTERNATIONAL BODIES International legislation focuses on extra-territorial waters, while local government bodies deal with territorial waters. There are very clear definitions of the different zones of water and what the legal implications are for each zone. Internal waters almost always have exclusive sovereign rights as they lie within the land territory of the State. They include lakes, internal seas, canals and all river-ways. Where another State borders on these waterways, clear boundaries are marked to avoid disputes. The territorial sea extends up to twelve nautical miles out from the shore’s baseline. Along with the contiguous zone, extending twelve nautical miles again beyond the territorial sea, these waters are under the jurisdiction of the State from whose baseline they extend. The continental shelf is defined by UNCLOS (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) as the “inclusion within national jurisdiction of substantially the whole of the physical continental margin” (Churchill and Lowe 1999, 149). That is, all of the continental shelf extending as far as, but not including,
the deep oceanic floor. All natural resources that make contact with the seabed within this zone belong to and are exploitable by the State that has sovereign rights over them (O’Keefe 2002a, 4). The Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) includes the body of water above the seabed extending from twelve to two hundred nautical miles from the baseline, or to the edge of the continental shelf (Vrana 2001, 380). Since all of the above-mentioned zones belong to individual States the State can enforce its sovereign right over them. The State has control over all resources in these zones, including the underwater cultural heritage. As regards underwater archaeology, the State’s own laws are enforced within these zones. No other State can make a claim on the material remains of the past found within any of these zones unless they cite exceptional circumstances such as military vessels. Lying outside the jurisdiction of all the above-mentioned zones is the ‘Area’, the deep seabed in international waters. The concept of the ‘Area’ was created by UNCLOS under article 149. No State has sovereignty over the Area or its resources; they are the ‘common heritage of mankind’ (O’Keefe 2002a, 4). The underwater environment in the Area is exploitable by all States and therefore many institutions have raised concerns over the protection of such zones. Legislative bodies and international conventions have been created specifically for the protection of the underwater environment within the Area, including the safeguard of the underwater cultural heritage. The main international bodies concerned with underwater archaeology can be seen in Table 1. International Union for Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) United Nations Division of Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea (DOALOS) Institute of Nautical Archaeology (INA) International Congress of Maritime Museums (ICMM) Australian Institute for Maritime Archaeology (AIMA) International Seabed Authority (ISA)
International Maritime Organisation (IMO) Council of Europe; the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) International Committee on the Underwater Cultural Heritage (ICUCH) International Law Association (ILA) Advisory Council on Underwater Archaeology (ACUA) Insitut Français de Recherche pour l’Exploitation de la Mer (IFREMER) Nautical Archaeology Society (NAS)
Table 1 - International Organisations involved with the protection of the underwater cultural heritage.
These groups have been integral to the development of legislation regarding underwater archaeology at an international level. The International Committee on the Underwater Cultural Heritage (ICUCH) is a subgroup and advisory body to the International Law Association (ILA). It was formed in 1991 by ICOMOS (Council of Europe; International Council on Monuments and Sites), in order to promote international co-operation in the identification, protection and conservation of the underwater cultural heritage (Henderson 2001, 205). It is based in the Western Australian Maritime Museum and plays a key role in the development of international legislation. One of its most important roles is to advise ICOMOS, a non77
governmental organisation of professionals dedicated to the conservation of the world’s historic monuments and sites. Another non-governmental group is the Nautical Archaeology Society (NAS), based in the United Kingdom. This registered charity aims to help the inclusion of the public in information regarding excavation, conservation, educating and reporting, whilst still retaining a high academic level. It records its activities and discussions of current issues in its quarterly International Journal of Nautical Archaeology, printed since 1972 (NAS 2005). As part of its access program volumes of the journal are available online as far back as 1996. The Advisory Council on Underwater Archaeology (ACUA) is an international advisory body and assists in a number of conferences. Such conferences include those of the Society for Historical Archaeology’s (SHA) Conference on Historical and Underwater Archaeology. Conferences have a number of advantages as they improve international contacts and further the sharing of knowledge. The SHA created the SHA UNESCO Committee in 1999 to monitor the development of the 2001 UNESCO Convention, discussed below, but since the adoption of the convention it now supports the convention’s international implementation and ratification (SHA 2005). Members of the ACUA committee of twelve are elected on a rotating basis from the membership of the SHA. This democratic approach is enhanced by the diversity of its members from across the globe (ACUA 2005). There are, however, problems with the SHA. In 1997 Greg Stemm, a salvor, together with two others, attempted to present a paper entitled ‘Sustainable Commercial Recovery of Deep Water Shipwrecks: Opportunities and Issues for Professional Archaeologists’. The SHA prevented Stemm from presenting this paper as it saw this issue of co-operation between archaeologists and salvors as contradictory to the societies’ code of ethics (Forrest 1999, 1). It would appear that while the society invites diversity of membership, it censors what members may speak about. This censorship stifles new avenues of discussion. It would seem more sensible to try to foster communication links and positive dialogue between the archaeological and salvage communities. It is important to understand what an organisation’s vested interests and approaches are, in order to view its place within the shifting developments in international legislation affecting the underwater cultural heritage. As the above example demonstrates, not all organisations are interested in hearing the viewpoints of other groups. The Institute of Nautical Archaeology (INA) was founded in 1972 by George F. Bass, a leader in the developments relating to underwater archaeology. It was originally located in Cyprus but was moved to Texas A&M University in 1976. This non-profit educational Institute has permanent research centres in Bodrum, Turkey and INAEgypt in Cairo. It publishes a journal on its research, the Quarterly. Major excavation programs around the world have been undertaken by the Institute, for example, in Turkey, Italy, Israel, the Netherlands and Jamaica. Surveys and pre-survey reconnaissance have also been conducted at Albania, the Azores, Bahrain, Bulgaria, the Canary Islands, Eritrea and Poland (Hocker 2001, 205). The United Nations also has a number of departments directed at antiquity conservation and protection. The most familiar is UNESCO, the UN’s Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation. UNESCO aims to encourage the identification, protection and preservation of cultural and natural heritage found to be of outstanding value to humanity at an international level. It does this by encouraging states to sign its conventions and to nominate World Heritage sites within their territory. UNESCO
provides technical assistance where necessary to states to aid in the conservation of important sites and also provides relevant educational training programmes. The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) is a UN specialised agency responsible for improving maritime safety and preventing pollution from ships. It is committed to technical co-operation and implements measures to bring effect to current legislation (IMO 2005). The International Seabed Authority (ISA) is an international autonomous organisation that was created as a result of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and the 1994 Agreement relating to the Implementation of Part XI of UNCLOS (ISA 2005). As the UNCLOS agreement affected so many different areas and states, it became apparent that a single authority was needed to regulate the convention. State parties to UNCLOS use the ISA as an administration mechanism through which the resources of the Area are controlled and organised. The ISA is also associated with the Division of Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea (DOALOS).
INTERNATIONAL LEGISLATION Some of the international legislation created by the organisations discussed above includes the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and the 2001 UNESCO Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage. The developments towards the protection of the international underwater cultural heritage began with UNESCO’s 1956 Recommendation on International Principles Applicable to Archaeological Excavations. This recommendation was adopted and included excavations undertaken ‘on the bed or in the sub-soil of the inland or territorial waters of a Member State’s’ (art. I: par. 1). In 1958 four conventions were adopted by the first United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea, covering territorial seas, the contiguous zone, high seas, and the continental shelf*. In 1970 further steps were taken after negotiations with the Seabed Committee. The United Nations adopted a Declaration of Principles (Resolution 2749 XXV 17th December 1970) stating that ‘the seabed and ocean floor, and the subsoil thereof, beyond the limits of national jurisdiction, as well as the resources of the area, are the common heritage of mankind’ (art. 1, International Standards Section, UNESCO 2002, 5). From 1973 many sessions took place. In 1977 the Council of Europe looked at the issue and in 1978 their Education and Culture Committee created a report** on the underwater cultural heritage, recommending a new Committee of Ministers draw up a suitable convention on the topic (O’Keefe 2002a, 15). In 1982 the third United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea adopted the Convention (UNCLOS) governing the law of the sea in its totality. UNCLOS has been in force since 1994 and is the only enforceable legislation to contain special reference, in articles 149 and 303, to the underwater cultural heritage (Dromgoole 2002, 124). From an archaeologist’s perspective, however, UNCLOS is deeply flawed and provides limited protection of the underwater cultural heritage. Under article 149: All objects of an archaeological and historical nature found in the Area shall be preserved or disposed of for the benefit of mankind as a whole, particular regard being paid to the preferential rights of the State or country of origin, or the State of cultural origin, or the State of historical and archaeological origin.
This excerpt clearly demonstrates the cursory way in which the archaeology was considered whilst drawing up the convention. The type of ‘disposal’ of objects of archaeological or historical interest is not specified but left at the discretion of individual states (Frost 2004, 34). This could lead to many interpretations, such as disposal for sale, or any number of possibilities. Preference is given to the State from which such objects originate, however, by not clarifying in detail the extent of this statement, it is left open to interpretation. By omission, it can be inferred that ownership rights and claims are not included within the context of objects of an archaeological or historical nature. Preferential state right, therefore, is inclined to have control, but wrecks for example, which may contain a multitude of artefacts from many different states without a single principle cultural origin could, under this Convention, cause complications and disagreements between States. Bass (1980, 151) illustrates these problems when he states: Suggestions that antiquities found in international waters should belong to the country of historical or cultural origin are meaningless…[It] is known that classical Greek Statues were cast not only in what is modern Greece, but also in Italy, Asia Minor, and elsewhere. Would a unique bronze from far at sea belong to Greece, Italy, or Turkey today? Problems also arise between the rights of states versus the rights of mankind as a whole. By not specifying through detailed definition the rules regarding the treatment of archaeological remains in the EEZ and Continental Shelf UNCLOS has left many sites vulnerable to exploitation by States other than the coastal State who should exercise sovereignty over these zones. Article 303 states that: (par. 1) States have the duty to protect objects of an archaeological and historical nature found at sea and shall cooperate for this purpose. (par. 2 ) In order to control traffic in such objects, the coastal State may, in applying article 33, presume that their removal from the seabed in the zone referred to in that article without its approval would result in an infringement within its territory or territorial sea of the laws and regulations referred to in that article. (par. 3) Nothing in this article affects the rights of identifiable owners, the law of salvage or other rules of admiralty, or laws and practices with respect to cultural exchanges. (par. 4) This article is without prejudice to other international agreements and rules of an archaeological and historical nature. Wrecks are not included under the protection of natural resources under articles 56 and 77 and article 303 covers ‘archaeological and historical objects found at sea’ in a very general manner with no specific rights conferred on the coastal State (Smith and Couper 2003, 27). A positive aspect of article 303 is that all areas of the sea are included, not just international waters, as it is located in the ‘General Provisions’ section of the Convention, except for par. 2 which specifies the contiguous zone. Where objects are removed without permission, par. 2 allows for the extension of jurisdiction by the coastal state for the sole purpose of the protection of the underwater cultural heritage alone (Frost 2004, 29). States are encouraged to cooperate with each other to protect objects of archaeological or historical importance and such a duty is emphasised. There is a conflict, however, between article 149 and
303. Article 303 upholds the rights of salvage and acknowledges ownership rights while article 149 does not seem to do so, giving preferential rights to States and mankind as a whole. While there are many positive elements of UNCLOS, fundamental problems still remain. There is no definition of the objects of historical or archaeological interest and they are not listed as a branch of marine science under article 143. As they are not mentioned in article 133 as resources, they are not under the jurisdiction of the ISA (Frost 2004, 35). Further progress seemed to have been made in 1985 when the ILA’s Buenos Aires Draft Convention was finalised and sent to the Council of Ministers for approval. The draft, however, was never adopted due to Turkey’s objections owing to territorial issues (Strati 1995, 87). 1988 saw the creation of a Cultural Heritage Law Committee by the ILA. In 1992 the Council of Europe revised its European Convention on Protection of the Archaeological Heritage (European Treaty Series No. 143, see O’Keefe 2002a, 15). In 1994 the ILA adopted a Draft Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage. Unlike the earlier Council of Europe Draft, the ILA Draft extended its reach beyond the continental shelf for 200 miles. Under certain standards set out in the Charter, it also foresaw the exploration and excavation of the underwater cultural heritage within State jurisdiction and in the Area by anyone. It was decided that UNESCO was the organisation best able to deal with the finalisation and implementation of the convention (International Standards Section, UNESCO 2002, 6). The Secretary-General of the ILA sent the ILA Draft with the Charter and the Committee’s three Reports to UNESCO (O’Keefe 2002b, 140). While the reaction to the Draft was not generally positive, it was to act as a blueprint for the development of the 2001 UNESCO Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage (O’Keefe 2002a, 23). In 1996 ICOMOS produced a Charter on the Protection and Management of Underwater Cultural Heritage, intended to supplement the 1990 Charter for the Protection and Management of the Archaeological Heritage (full text available at www.international.icomos.org/icomos/under_e.htm). There was previously no internationally accepted guideline for appropriate behaviour on shipwreck and submerged sites. This Charter was to act as a precursor to the 2001 UNESCO Convention. It was seen as a necessary step to protecting the world’s submerged heritage, as not a single such site was covered by the World Heritage Listing due to the misconception that shipwrecks were ‘moveable’ heritage (Henderson 2001, 206). Non-intrusive techniques and preservation in situ were highlighted as fundamental principles to the conservation and management of the underwater cultural heritage. Recreational use, tourism and public access were encouraged by the charter, which states that ‘archaeology is a public activity; everybody is entitled to draw upon the past in informing their own lives, and every effort to curtail knowledge of the past is an infringement of personal autonomy’. This type of approach, allowing public access to archaeological sites by the public, can lead to a conflict of interest groups: archaeologists and the public (Dromgoole 2002, 118). If the public has access to such archaeologically sensitive areas they can put them in danger, while access to sites can be delayed or prevented entirely by the activities of archaeologists, thus infuriating the public. From 1997 it was recognised by UNESCO that international regulation of the underwater cultural heritage was an important issue and the development of a
convention was deemed necessary. A series of open-ended meetings took place, with experts discussing matters of importance in the creation of such a convention (International Standards Section, UNESCO 2002, 6). The 1994 ILA draft then formed the basis for the 1998 draft drawn up by UNESCO and DOALOS, with advice from IMO. DOALOS (Division of Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea), however, withdrew its support of the Draft as noted in its absence in the description of the 1999 draft and indications from the US (O’Keefe 2002b, 141). The purpose of all these drafts was to outline necessary changes in the management and regulation of the underwater cultural heritage in international waters. The above-mentioned series of events show the vast difficulties and complications of creating international conventions. When the conventions are finalised they still have to be ratified and implemented. No State is forced to ratify, ratification is done by choice, even allowing for political pressure. Many States have not been happy with certain elements of the 2001 UNESCO Convention. They see its idealised anticommercialism as incompatible with the practicalities of the management of the underwater cultural heritage. Yet, compared with UNCLOS, the 2001 UNESCO Convention is an essential step towards the protection of the underwater cultural heritage. The 2001 UNESCO Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage was adopted at the thirty-first General Conference by eighty-seven votes in favour, four against and fifteen abstentions. To date, the only countries to ratify the Convention and become State parties are Panama, Bulgaria, Spain, and the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya. The Convention will not come into force until three months after twenty of the 138 member states have ratified, accepted, approved or acceded with the Director-General of UNESCO (International Standards Section, UNESCO 2002, 12).
DISCUSSION Article 1 of the 2001 UNESCO Convention defines the underwater cultural heritage as: … all traces of human existence having a cultural, historical or archaeological character which have been partially or totally underwater, periodically or continuously, for at least one hundred years. This definition is precise and all-inclusive of archaeological finds underwater. One major concern of the Convention is the preference, where possible, of in situ preservation before any other actions or activities regarding the remains are carried out (art. 2: par.5; rule 1 of the annex). As Abbass (1999, 262) states, excavation “changes a site forever and destroys the potential for future data collection”. Where archaeological work takes place non-destructive methods of study and survey are recommended rather than the removal of objects (rule 4 of the annex). By keeping remains in situ the problem of conservation is solved as long as the site is stable. In Quebec this approach has proven successful. The remains of a French warship from 1758 have been left intact and a map is provided to divers for exploration of the site (Blot 1996, 121). Some study has already been carried out on the site and further work is possible because the site is left intact, in situ. The public have been allowed visit the site in a welcoming act by the authorities. Both the interests of the public and
archaeologists are addressed in this case and it could act as a good model for future wreck or settlement sites. The 2001 Convention is strictly anti-commercial stating that â€˜underwater cultural heritage shall not be commercially exploitedâ€™ (art: 2: par. 7). Rule 2 of the annex also states that: The commercial exploitation of underwater cultural heritage for trade or speculation or its irretrievable dispersal is fundamentally incompatible with the protection and proper management of underwater cultural heritage. Underwater cultural heritage shall not be traded, sold, bought or bartered as commercial goods. Any sale of any object is seen as wholly contradictory to the Convention. Certain provisions are made for professional archaeological research carried out in full accordance with the ethos and provisions of the Convention, assuring that recovered material will not be irretrievably dispersed and that the appropriate competent authorities authorise any such activities. The reasons for such an anti-commercial approach are self-evident. While article 4 states that all such finds are not subject to the law of salvage or law of finds, provision is made under certain circumstances, such as authorisation by the competent authorities. But who are the competent authorities? Nowhere in the Convention is a definition of such authorities to be found; this is one of the few areas where specification is lacking. It is to be assumed that such authorities would constitute a government appointed body of relevant experts in the fields or archaeology, history, recovery and law. Rule 34 of the annex deals with archiving of information and materials, stating that international professional standards must be used, but allows the actual standards to be chosen by each state. High standards would thus be maintained while allowing for the capability and budget of each state. There has been some concern about the definition of underwater cultural heritage due to its all-inclusive nature. Dromgoole (2003, 64) argues that it would be possible to include anything over one hundred years of age by this definition, as anything this old would have some historical or archaeological character. This would not mean, however, that such objects necessarily have such a value or importance. Furthermore, such assessment of a site or finds before excavation would not be possible as an assessment of value and importance could only be made after full excavation and analysis (ibid.). In the 1998 draft there was a provision to cover sites less than one hundred years old on the basis that this would be a unilateral decision by the state, but this was not included in the 2001 UNESCO Convention. While there may be important sites less than one hundred years old worthy of protection, such as World War I shipwrecks and aircrafts, the scope of such a definition would be difficult to define. Many States have laws governing certain time periods or artefact types within their own constitution. The United Kingdom, for example, has the 1973 Protection of Wrecks Act, which covers objects of national importance and the 1979 Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act, which governs remains of historical, archaeological or artistic importance. The United States also has specific laws, such as the Abandoned Shipwreck Act.
There has been huge opposition to the 2001 Convention from treasure hunters and shipwreck explorers. They argue that archaeologists do not have the necessary resources to study all known wrecks, believing that most wrecks should be left for public use and only wrecks more than 200 years old be covered in the Convention (Wilkie 2002). Greg Stemm, president of Odyssey Marine Exploration, Inc. (OME) has lambasted the convention. His perspective is an interesting one as he is both a commercial salvage operator and owner of such a company and was also on the delegation board of the United States during the talks on the 2001 UNESCO Convention. Stemm makes frequent reference to the apparent desperation of UNESCO to complete the convention quickly, stating that they had to resort to ‘constructive ambiguity’ to gloss over difficult issues, thus leaving contentious issues open to interpretation (Stemm 2002, 50). The general impression he leaves is of a rushed, haphazard attempt to complete an internationally sound convention. Yet, in the context of the history of the development of the Convention as discussed above, it seems more likely that Stemm is exaggerating. This exaggeration continues with his description of the articles and the annex, which he describes as inconsistent, confusing and cumbersome (ibid., 51). Rule 2 of the annex states the anti-commercial ethos of the convention. This anticommercialism would, of course, cover salvage operations where the end-goal of excavation is for profit rather than knowledge. It is private sector companies, like Stemm’s, who carry out such activities. Stemm complains of the “decided bias against including private sector in the management of underwater cultural heritage” (ibid.) and in the context of the Convention it is understandable why the private sector could be seen to be excluded. On closer inspection, however, the private sector is not excluded; merely the aim of excavation for monetary gain and the subsequent dispersal of artefacts most associated with commercial companies are of concern. The law of salvage is addressed in article 4 specifically whereby: Any activity relating to the underwater cultural heritage to which this Convention applies shall not be subject to the law of salvage or law of finds, unless it: (a) is authorised by the competent authorities, and (b) is in full conformity with this Convention, and (c) ensures that any recovery of the underwater cultural heritage achieves its maximum protection. Unless the conditions a, b and c presented above are met, then salvage operations cannot take place. Private sector companies could excavate under the proper supervision or controls, so long as the aim was the preservation of knowledge, which would be irretrievably lost otherwise. There is also scope for profits from films, photographs, tours and exhibition of artefacts found, thus satiating the need for profit without selling artefacts (Dromgoole 2003, 66). A good example of this would be the Titanic exhibition, which has made millions in profit from the exhibition of artefacts recovered from the ship***. There is, however, still confusion over whether artefacts recovered during excavation under the proper conditions, in full conformity with the convention, could be sold to museums (ibid., 68). This would not seem unreasonable since museums are public institutions with the general publics’ interest at heart. The care and ownership of artefacts would be preferable to that of private individuals where access to artefacts is usually limited. The concerns of the public and raising
public awareness are major themes running throughout the convention and are dealt with in particular in articles 19-21. It is, after all, by the public, especially fishermen and divers, that the majority of remains are found. With the proper education and awareness, the public can make the proper decisions regarding the underwater cultural heritage and notify the proper authorities when they find it, without disturbing the context of the finds. Rules 9-16 of the annex discuss guidelines on the project design of all activities that should be developed prior to any excavation and which should be approved by the competent authorities. In particular, Rules 17 and 18 cite the need for proper funding of a project to be secured before any excavation begins. It is not just the cost of the excavation that should be covered but the entire project from start to finish, including conservation and storage. Stemm almost welcomes the difficulties that will be faced by archaeological institutions as a result of these provisions, stating that “this might produce the unintended, but welcome, consequence of creating an increased reliance on the private sector for funds” (Stemm 2002, 53). The private sector is able to provide financial security while some academic institutions are not. Stemm’s concerns with the ‘confusing jurisdictional competence’ of the Convention though are logical, as it is “deliberately obfuscating as to which State would have primary control over a particular operation or activity” (ibid., 51). He also points out the problems associated with reporting of finds by the ‘national’ state to the flag state. Articles 9-13 of the convention list guidelines on the specific system of reporting, notification and authorisation that should be carried out in the event of underwater cultural heritage remains being found. The problems arise with the questions of who should make the report and to whom; there is no precise definition of these guidelines. There are also problems with the system of reporting. All signatories to the convention are to be notified of any underwater archaeological and historical remains located. Any state with an interest in such finds may register as a ‘consulting state’ on the basis that they have a verifiable link with such remains. This reference to a link could conceivably cause problems, with states registering interest in remains that may have little relationship to them. Implementation of protective measures for any finds may only be made by the co-ordinating state when such measures are agreed by the consulting states. In such instances the consulting states could possibly veto any arrangements and cause difficulties. If this were the case the reporting and consulting systems could be incredibly time consuming and costly (Stemm 2002, 51). Another hotly debated topic regards warship jurisdiction, where states are only encouraged to notify the flag state if a warship of that flag state has been found. There is no obligation by the coastal state to make this report. While this may not be a perfect system, it prevents disagreements between states if a warship has not been reported. Co-operation between states is mentioned in art. 2: par. 10 and in rules 7 and 8 of the annex. Mutual aid and assistance are fundamental concerns of the 2001 Convention, as without collaboration it would simply fail to work. As with UNCLOS, art. 303: par. 1, there is a duty by state parties to co-operate to protect the underwater cultural heritage. To this end, agreements in addition to the convention, but still in conformity with it, are encouraged between states in specific cases where additional measures are needed to protect remains (Dromgoole 2003, 68). Article 23 makes provision for a ‘Meeting of State Parties’ every two years to discuss ongoing problems and
developments. The Meeting may also decide its own functions and responsibilities, including the creation of a Scientific and Technical Advisory Body to help with the implementation of the rules of the convention (ibid., 69). This type of Meeting has not yet been created, but in the future, after the Convention comes into force, it may function like the International Seabed Authority (ISA), which was created as a management tool for UNCLOS. In the same way, the Meeting could function as the administration mechanism through which the underwater cultural heritage would be controlled and organised.
CONCLUSION It is interesting to note how the 2001 UNESCO Convention functions in relation to UNCLOS. Some concerns have been raised about the compatibility between the two treaties. Article 3 of the 2001 UNESCO Convention states that: Nothing in this Convention shall prejudice the rights, jurisdiction and duties of States under international law, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. This Convention shall be interpreted and applied in the context of and in a manner consistent with international law, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. In this section it is made abundantly clear, twice in specific reference to UNCLOS, that the 2001 UNESCO Convention must be viewed not just on its own but in relation to other international legislation. In the drafting of the Convention there was serious controversy over the interrelationship between UNCLOS and the new Convention as UNCLOS had achieved a delicate balance between states in relation to jurisdiction in particular and there were concerns that the 2001 UNESCO Convention would upset this balance. Specifically there were fears of ‘creeping jurisdiction’ and in particular the United States raised objections to this issue (see Dromgoole 2003, 75). The Convention, however, cautiously deals with this problem through the specification of UNCLOS and the relationship with other international Conventions that presently exist or may exist in the future. One major problem with the Convention is the ability for treasure hunters and similar groups to evade the control mechanisms laid out. It is possible for them to use ‘flags of convenience’ and ‘ports of convenience’ to side step sanctions and penalties since there is such an emphasis on flag state, nationality and territorial principles of jurisdiction (ibid., 90). Also, as the Convention is based on the spirit of co-operation, there are few guidelines on dispute settlement between states and interested parties. Nevertheless, in the Preamble, the Convention itself is left open to further improvement and the possible future needs to ‘codify and progressively develop’ are acknowledged.
NOTES * The Conventions adopted in Geneva, 24th February-27th April 1958 were: the Convention on the Territorial Sea and the Contiguous Zone; the Convention on the High Seas; the Convention on Fishing and Conservation of the Living Resources of the High Seas and the Convention on the Continental Shelf. ** Council of Europe, 1978, The Underwater Cultural Heritage: Report of the Committee on the Culture and Education, Parliamentary assembly, Council of Europe, Council of Europe Doc. 4200, Strasburg.
*** It should be noted that the company in charge of operations regarding the Titanic (RMS Titanic Inc.) has announced that further artefacts will be needed to create a new exhibition. To obtain such objects the company plans to slice through the hull of the ship using lasers. This is in contravention to the initial promises that the company made, not to damage the site.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS The support of the Classics Department, Trinity College Dublin, in particular Dr. Christine Morris, has been invaluable. I would also like to thank Dr. Sarah Dromgoole for her helpful words of guidance.
BIBLIOGRAPHY Abbass, D. 1999, A Marine Archaeologist looks at Treasure Salvage. Journal of Maritime Law and Commerce 30, 261-268. ACUA. 2005. About the ACUA http://www.acuaonline.org/about.html (accessed 14/02/06). Bass, G. 1980, Marine Archaeology: A Misunderstood Science. Ocean Yearbook 2, 137-152 . CBA press release. 2002. Council of British Archaeology Slams Government Treasure Hunt, 08/11/02, http://www.britarch.ac.uk/conserve/sussexpr.html (accessed 04/03/06). Churchill, R.R. and Lowe, A.V. (eds). 1999. The Law of the Sea, Manchester. Council of Europe. 1978. The Underwater Cultural Heritage: Report of the Committee in the Culture and Education Parliamentary Assembly, Council of Europe Doc. 4200, Strasbourg. Dromgoole, S. 2002. Law and the underwater cultural heritage: a question of balancing interests. In N. Brodie and K. Walker Tubb (eds) Illicit Antiquities. London. Dromgoole, S. 2003. 2001 UNESCO Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage. The International Journal of Marine and Coastal Law 18(1), 59-108. Forrest, C. 1999. New Laws for the Millennium - Archaeology AND Salvage? World Archaeological Congress 4, Cape Town. Frost, R. 2004. Underwater Cultural Heritage. Australia Year Book of International Law 23, 25-50. Henderson, G. 2001. ICOMOS. In J.P. Delgado (ed.) Encyclopaedia of Underwater and Maritime Archaeology. London. Hocker, F.M. 2001. Institute of Nautical Archaeology. In J.P. Delgado (ed.) Encyclopaedia of Underwater and Maritime Archaeology. London. ICMM, http://www.icmmonline.org/pages/home.htm. (accessed 14/02/06). ICOMOS. 1996. 11th ICOMOS General Assembly, Sofia, Bulgaria. www.international.icomos.org/icomos/under_e.htm (accessed 14/02/06). ICOMOS. 2002. Resolution 19, Agreed Resolutions, 13th General Assembly, 05/12/02, ICOMOS, Madrid. ICOMOS. 2006. About ICOMOS, http://www.international.icomos.org/about.htm (accessed 14/02/06). IMO. 2005. About Us, http://www.imo.org/home.asp (accessed 14/02/06). Institute of Art and Law. 1999. Cultural Heritage Statutes, IAL. International Standards Section. UNESCO. 2002. Information Kit on the Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0014/001430/143085e.pdf (accessed 11/12/05). ISA. 2005. http://www.isa.org.jm/en/default.htm (accessed 14/02/06). NAS. 2005. About the Nautical Archaeology Society (NAS). http://www.nasportsmouth.or.uk/about/index.php (accessed 14/02/06). Oâ€™Keefe, P.J. 2002a. Shipwrecked Heritage: A Commentary on the UNESCO Convention on the Underwater Cultural Heritage, Leicester.
Oâ€™Keefe, P.J. 2002b. Negotiating the future of the underwater cultural heritage. In N. Brodie and K. Walker Tubb (eds) Illicit Antiquities. London. Smith, H.D. and Couper, A.D. 2003. The management of the underwater cultural heritage. Journal of Cultural Heritage 4(1), 25-33. Stemm, G. 2002. UNESCO gets its feet wet. Minerva 13(1), 50-53. Strati, A. 1995. The Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage: An Emerging Objective of the Contemporary Law of the Sea, The Hague. Vrana, K.J. 2001. Shipwreck Protected Areas. In J.P. Delgado (ed.) Encyclopaedia of Underwater and Maritime Archaeology. London. Wilkie, N.C. 2002. From the President: Lure of the Deep. Archaeological Institute of America 55(4) www.archaeology.org/020/etc/president.html (accessed 25/12/05).
Well You Can Always Talk About the Weather: An examination of the present use of palaeoclimatology and geoarchaeology in Kazakhstan and an interpretative framework for how landscape and climate affects human society. Don Oâ€™Meara This is an examination of the study of environments and their global relevance in the fields of environmental archaeology and anthropology. The social prehistory of Central Asia, particularly Kazakhstan, is used as a case study and the way in which it has been shaped by an ever changing environment is explored. How the size of the desert dramatically influences the economic and social development of human populations around it is discussed, posing the question; how could populations in Ireland have been effected by more subtle environmental change in Western Europe?
INTRODUCTION The subject of this paper is derived from fieldwork carried out during the summer of 2005 in Southern Kazakhstan. The work was undertaken with the Kazakh Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Science, working principally with the Laboratory of GeoArchaeology as an assistant to archaeologists associated with the Institute. Outlined here is the present work of the Institute, how the application of geology and geomorphology has been used by archaeologists in Kazakhstan to aid their understanding of the post-glacial history of the central Asian region. How the archaeologist in Western Europe and Ireland may benefit from the work being undertaken in Kazakhstan and Central Asia will also be discussed. The tradition of geological mapping and geological prospecting in Kazakhstan was influenced by the strong tradition of environmental sciences that developed in Russia in the twentieth century, in particular the development and application of soil science. In this respect, the eminent geologist, Alan Georgievich Medoev (1934-1980), devoted his career applying geological and scientific information to the understanding of the prehistory and history of Central Asia. Through the application of geological, palenological and pedological investigations, the Academy of Sciences of Kazakhstan S.S.R sought to understand the broad implications of the environment as an agent of human social change. Large countries, such as Russia and Kazakhstan, possess natural and political benefits for the work of the geologist and the geo-archaeologist. Political divides heavily influence geological prospecting and thus often only a section of a true geological area will be examined because of these artificial separations. An example of this can be seen in heavily divided regions such as Western Europe and many regions of Africa. These areas contain many national divisions compared to the broad expanse of Russia and Kazakhstan. Political and national divisions may be influenced by, but do not always follow, the natural geological or environmental boundaries. A geological
study of south-eastern Europe would be hampered by the many divisions of the former Yugoslav Republics and by various political and ethnic tensions of that region. In Western Europe, for example, a study of the Alpine region would necessitate the co-operation of at least six countries. In Africa the post-colonial political divisions of the continent were often drawn along lines of longitude and latitude, baring no connection to the geographic landscape. Geological and archaeological mapping often necessitates the study of a broad region that encompasses several political jurisdictions. Though this can be aided by organisations, such as the co-operation among EU states, the process of geological mapping is still globally hampered by political restrictions. Kazakhstan, however, is a suitable country for geological and geomorphic research because the political boundaries embrace a wide range of climatic zones that are, in several cases, totally encompassed within the political boundaries of the country (Aubekerov pers. comm.). Its position within the Eurasian continent places Kazakhstan at an important cultural crossroads, surrounded by China, India, the Middle Eastern Region and the European region. The nomadic nature of the Bronze Age (c.2000-700 BC) and post Bronze Age cultures of Central Asia has allowed frequent and widespread access between Central Asia and these surrounding regions. Its position along the Silk Route has also placed the society of Kazakhstan at the centre of important historical transport links between East and West. Some of Kazakhstan’s major zones are connected to its modern political neighbours and thus the studies undertaken within the country are an important tool for other nations that share climatic zones with Kazakhstan. Much of Central Asia and Eastern Europe, for example, share some climatic zones with Kazakhstan. The steppe environment of northern Kazakhstan stretches into Eastern Europe and forms part of a rich grain growing territory of the Ukraine. The mountains in the south-east of Kazakhstan form the northern section of the Himalayas. The eastern desert conditions and semi-desert conditions stretch into China and Mongolia. These geographic links are important for the cultural history of Kazakhstan. These geographic regions of Kazakhstan are: 1. Steppe forest, Siberian zone 2. Steppe zone 3. Semi-arid zone 4. Desert 5. Mountain, foothill zone. This zone contains several sub-zones: Steppe type zones Shrub zones Forest zone Alpine meadow zone Glacial zone Within the archaeological record of Kazakhstan, all of the above zones have been settled either temporarily or permanently. The studies of archaeological regions within Kazakhstan are based upon these geographic divisions. When utilising environmental information notice must be taken of the type of region from which the information originates. Care should be taken when trying to use environmental information from a specific region to justify conclusions for a different geographic region (See examples from Turghen and Tamgaly below). 90
CURRENT WORK The work of the Laboratory of Geo-Archaeology currently embraces several projects. These include studies of land-water use, settlement patterns, ancient metallurgy studies and rock art surveys. Embracing these areas and impacting on their investigation is the field of palaeoclimatology. Among the current work of the Institute of Geology is a reconstruction of the palaeoenvironment of the central Asian region since the end of the last Ice Age, during the Holocene period. The archaeologists from the Ministry of Culture are incorporating this geological work into interpretations of the prehistoric and historic society of the region. This work includes: 1. Collection of values of past climatic fluctuations of temperature and precipitation. When this information has been collected a reconstruction of their historical evolution and phases can be deduced. 2. Constructing a model of the casual interaction between climatic changes and specific historical processes and developments, both short- and long-term historical social change 3. The ways in which human communities resist, regulate and innovate in response to climatic changes; expansion or contraction of the population number, changes in the level of conflict and social structure, migrations and resettlements, technological innovation. 4. The ways in which human activity, regulations and innovation affect the environment, the eco-systems and as today, atmospheric composition and global climate itself.
CLIMATE Climate affects all societies but yet is often improperly understood when considering its impact upon past and present human societies (Oâ€™Connor 2005). The interplay between the various elements of the lithosphere, the atmosphere, the hydrosphere and the biosphere combine to produce a regional, and eventually, global climate. The complexity of climatic systems can be more easily examined when certain definitions are considered and the changes are systematically broken down. Climate itself can be defined as the levels of heat and humidity present on the surface of the Earth. Humidity can be interpreted as the level of water suspended in the atmosphere and heat energy as being connected to changing atmospheric temperature levels and the ability of the atmosphere to suspend moisture. The interaction of these two factors, heat and humidity, means that there are four basic types of climate; hot-wet, cold-wet, cold-dry, hot-dry (if we accept terms such as hot-cold and wet-dry as being relative terms). If we accept these four states as describing a climate, then climatic change can be described as eight processes of change; hotter, colder, wetter, dryer, hotter-wetter, hotter-dryer, colder-wetter, colder dryer (again, a relative relationship between the past climate and the changed climate). To describe a climatic change means assessing the change in relation to the past environment and in relation to the type of change taking place (Sala n.d). The type of change is first assessed, then the amplitude is considered; to what extent has the change in heat or humidity occurred. Finally the geographic extension of this change must be assessed to determine the number and types of human societies that will be affected by any change. By examining climatic
patterns in this manner the temperature and humidity changes of southern Kazakhstan can be displayed as in Figure 1.
Figure 1 - Reconstruction of average fluctuations of temperature and precipitation in Southern Kazakhstan during the last 3,200 years. Fluctuation between differing geographic regions. Plains (Tamgaly, 800 m asl, semidesert landscape); Mountains (Turghen, 2,300 m asl, alpine meadows) Note: Temperature (T) in red lines, precipitation (P) in blue sequenced lines. (from Aubekerov, Sala and
Nigmatova 2003, 25).
Figure 1 illustrates how temperature and humidity of the Central Asian regions has changed since the Bronze Age. Not only has there been changes in the temperature and humidity but also this change is variable between the geographic zone on which the information is based. Central to the correct understanding of a geographic region or a climatic zone, is the understanding that the information compiled from a particular location is only applicable to areas within that geographic region. Thus, environmental information taken in the semi-desert landscape of Tamgaly, as above, will be more applicable to the other parts of the semi-desert of Kazakhstan which may be many hundreds of kilometres away but will not be applicable to the mountainous regions that are less than one hundred kilometres distant. From Figure 1 it can be seen that the diagram for Tamgaly, on the left, demonstrates widespread fluctuations between 2700 BP and 2000 BP. The corresponding diagram on the right for the same period in the mountain zone, Turgan, displays fewer fluctuations, indicating a much more stable environment during this period. The work of the archaeologist, when armed with this information, is to assess how this would have affected the populations living in these regions (Aubekerov et. al. n.d.). It could be stated, for example, that the people in the mountains lived a much easier existence due to a more stable weather pattern and the people in the desert lived under a greater and more damaging environmental system. Concurrently, it could be suggested that the mountainous regions may have experienced more damaging environmental conditions and change which, though less frequent, may have made life in the already harsh mountains untenable during the winter periods. The Laboratory of Geo-Archaeology, which uses modern climatic models to try and recreate past environments and weather patterns (Sala 2005), is currently addressing these issues. These studies attempt to use regional models to answer questions of regional change. The reconstruction of global climate changes is a useful tool when examining global palaeo-climatology, but for the
archaeologist this cannot provide information about specific regional climatic trends. Though global climatic reconstructions have their uses, it is difficult to apply this ‘macro’ information to specific regions without ‘micro’ information from the region under investigation. Weather patterns are heavily influenced by local and regional conditions. A global examination, therefore, may not be applicable to specific regions in much the same way that a study of a mountainous climatic zone may present information that is not applicable to a desert zone in close proximity. The region-by-region studies undertaken by the Laboratory of Geo-Archaeology embraces the reality that climatic and environmental conditions vary over distance, geography and through time. That these variations are a reality of archaeological and paleoclimatic studies is widely acknowledged within Central Asia and in the wider archaeological community. Differences can be seen, however, in the manner in which environmental studies are applied. The study of paleoclimatology in Kazakhstan is examined from the earliest periods until the advent of the Russian period. Because a human population cannot escape from the environment it is logical to study climatic changes through all periods. Archaeological examinations in Western Europe often place an environmental studies priority upon earlier sites. Generally climatic studies seem to be regarded are more applicable or relevant to ancient societies over more relatively modern ones. ‘Climatic change is a major issue in Palaeolithic studies but is rarely an issue in Roman-British archaeology. Investigators ask very different types of questions in different contexts’ (Hodder 1999, 51). To say the environmental studies of one archaeological period are more relevant than studies within another period creates an imbalance within our knowledge of the archaeological record.
THE INTERPRETATIVE MODEL With the relevant palaeoclimatic information, the archaeologist and the anthropologist can begin to make certain theoretical conclusions concerning the interaction between climate and history. Climatic variation can be identified in the archaeological record based on three types of alteration or instability within a society during a time of noticeable climatic change (Sala and Deom 2005). The three kinds of changes are: 1. Changes in bio-productivity of land and seas. Agricultural or hunter-gatherer societies may experience changes in their food supply. Previously exploited animal and plant resources may be disrupted within a geographic region. Animals may migrate to find new habitats or die out if the habitat they exploit is unique to the region. Certain plant species may become extinct if the changing environment reduces their reproductive capabilities. During the change the process of natural selection may favour particular plants or animals, thus altering the previous relative numbers of species, i.e. a change may not directly negatively impact on a particular species but it may favour its predators or competitors. Agricultural societies will also be affected if their crops do not adapt to the new conditions, or if crop types are not changed in response to changing conditions. Pastoral activity may have to be adapted or the society may have to migrate to find environmental conditions to better suit their animals. The quality of the vegetation consumed by domestic animals will impact on the meat and milk quality thus produced.
2. Disruption of former productive technologies. This can include engineering works and agricultural methods. Decreasing amounts of water can make irrigation systems obsolete if the water table is lowered to a level that cannot be exploited for human use. Excessive water can also damage irrigation systems, increased transportation of eroded material through irrigation systems can lead to an increase in soil salination, siltation and blockage. This change will particularly affect sedentary societies that utilise stationary and often large scale technologies to cope with population densities and urbanisation. 3. Health and epidemics. Changes in climate can lead to health deterioration under certain conditions. The increased presence of stagnant water can lead to more frequent cases of malaria, typhus and cholera. Climatic conditions may lead to changes in living patterns that in turn lead to deteriorations in population health. Increased population density can lead to disease outbreaks within that population. Changes in diet can also lead to associated nutritional problems (see Mays 1998; Newbrun 1982). If a region experiences climatic change then the three factors above will affect the type of problems or benefits a society may experience. Change will affect different types of human society in different ways, depending on the social form or construction of a society, as well as its economy. It is difficult at this point, to speak of climatic change as being either positive or negative. Different societies will have different ways of gauging whether a change is positive or negative. Increased precipitation may act to the benefit of nomadic pastoralists but may seriously disrupt the irrigation systems of urban dwellers living in the same region. When speaking of human societies and climatic change it is better to ask; can this particular society firstly, resist the change, secondly, alter its existing structures or thirdly, innovate and change to develop new coping mechanisms. We must ask certain questions of that society, for example, what is the economy of the society? Is it nomadic huntergatherers, semi-nomadic hunter-gatherers (who move seasonally between regions), nomadic pastoralists, settled pastoralists, settled agricultural societies or settled agricultural societies that utilise irrigation? These six groups represent some of the basic forms of food acquisition within a society or a culture. It is important to remember that food production, or acquisition is intrinsically linked to climate and environment. Societies, past and present, cannot remain unaffected by climatic variables. The probability that a new climatic condition will act to the benefit or detriment of a society or culture depends on how that society will interact with its changing environment. Though a society can take measures to limit detrimental effects it cannot distance itself from environment, thus interaction between society and its environment is certain (Wilkinson and Stevens 2003, sections 1 and 5). How then can a society respond? What choices have to be made and what allows some societies to survive and others to struggle? When faced with any change or threat a society can react in one of three ways:
1. Resistance to climatic fluctuations; the society may be able to avoid change by relying on already developed systems and structures. Though a society cannot be independent of its climate, it can develop mechanisms to resist possible degradations within its immediate environment. Resistance here is interpreted as the ability to avoid change by maximising the contemporary positive attributes of a particular culture or way of life. Hunter-gatherers can be particularly vulnerable if the society utilises a specialised diet, such as migrating animal populations that are negatively affected by climatic change. Hunter-gatherers will often be unable to resist climatic fluctuations and must instead adapt their activities or adjust their technology or economy. Societies of settled pastoralists may not be able to resist large scale and wide spread changes that affect the quality of vegetation and availability of water consumed by their herds. The strength of their society is based upon the quality and health of their herds, thus the society may have to migrate to better pastures. Nomadic pastoralists can be the most resistant to regional change. Their migratory lifestyle allows flexibility to local and regional conditions. Settled agriculturalists that do not utilise irrigation can be vulnerable to changes that raise or lower the water table. Settled agriculturalists that utilise irrigation can resist hot-dry changes but are vulnerable to cooler-wetter changes. These are often accompanied by sedimentation and siltation of canals and basins, damaging the technological framework of the society. 2. Adaptation to climatic fluctuations; the ability of a society to alter its current structures without needing to change or innovate to new structures. If a society cannot resist change, as above, it can regulate its existing social and technological structures to adapt. Adaptation here means a society does not need to embrace new technology or social structures (which can be costly and risky, especially during times of social stress), it simply adapts existing ones. Generally, societies that have a greater social or technological complexity can make necessary adaptations in order to survive. This flexibility is not often available to societies with lower levels of social and technological complexity (who must, in contrast, innovate within their society). This may be seen in the case of hunter-gatherers; often the only adaptation available is to migrate following herds of animals or move towards a region with conditions the society is best suited to. Though the diet of a huntergatherer society can be changed this must often be accompanied by technological innovation to the new food source (see below). For pastoralists and settled agriculturalists adaptation can be an easier process, depending on the agricultural technologies available to that society. Settled pastoralists can adopt transhumance practices to prevent overgrazing and the collapse of grazing areas that might be reduced by climatic change. In the case of settled agricultural societies, adaptability can mean altering patterns of production or altering species of plants and animals that are utilised. Herd sizes can be adjusted to deal with shortages of water or vegetation and plant species can be changed to allow tillage practices to adapt to wetter or dryer conditions. An agricultural community that already utilises irrigation may simply need to adapt its systems to cope with new problems, rather than developing a new system. This can allow a successful transition between climatic changes but is limited in its ability to sustain a population experiencing more extreme changes. A hotterdryer climatic change will place maximum pressure on agricultural societies that do not exploit irrigation practices. For societies that utilise irrigation, the ability to adapt will be determined by the relative change in the water table of an area. An increase in rainfall can lead to siltation and sedimentation within the irrigation system. This is
particularly noted among the central Asia and Middle Eastern societies that utilise the karez form of irrigation. A fall in the water table can dry up wells and other sources of water. In this instance societies that utilise the karez system are more likely to maintain a stable, but perhaps reduced, water supply (Sala n.d.). 3. Change and Innovation; if change cannot be resisted or adapted to, then the society must change itself, its technologies, or its social structures. The final action that can be taken by a society that is experiencing climatic changes is to innovate and change. By adopting or innovating new technologies, new social systems or new economic activities, a society can re-create itself with an economy that is best suited to changing conditions. The chances of a society adopting new technologies are extremely complex. Much depends on the type of habitat, the type of change occurring in this habitat and the form the changed habitat will take. If a society of hunter-gatherers lives in a region also populated by agriculturalists, then the chances of adopting agricultural techniques is much higher than if they lived in a region or at a time when no agriculture is practiced. Likewise, dry farming societies are more likely to adopt the technology of efficient irrigation practices if they live near a region whose populations possess irrigation techniques and technologies. Social change in the face of climatic change can be a successful way of limiting the disruptive effects of climate. A fine line exists, however, between a change that preserves the social structures and a change that recreates the society. An example of this can be seen during the Bronze Age (c.2000 BC) in Kazakhstan, where the beginning of a hot-dry period forced a society of settled agriculturists to re-adopt a nomadic lifestyle that had been abandoned during the Late Neolithic (c.4000 BC). Though this change completely altered the society of the region it was necessary, as the previous settled agricultural social system was probably not tenable in the face of massive environmental change. This change from settled agriculturist to pastoral nomad is also an example of how archaeologists should be wary of generalizing human development through the cultural-historical approach (Oâ€™Connor 2005, 6).
DISCUSSION In Kazakhstan ongoing investigations examine the arid regions and see how the expansion and contraction of these regions can correlate to changes in the archaeological record and thus to suggest possible changes as being the direct result of a changing environment (Sala 2003). The arid regions and the human societies that inhabit them are a useful case study for the examination of human processes and their interaction with the environment. This is because the arid regions will allow for specialised exploitation of resources but are often susceptible to wide ranging and major environmental changes. The environments of other regions, such as the cool temperate oceanic types of Europe, do not present the same level of change as can be seen in arid regions (when faced with slight changes in relative humidity and temperature). While the environment may be altered in Europe it does not change radically, with temperature and moisture changes producing fluctuations in the pollen diagrams of European areas. In arid regions a slight change in moisture or temperature can turn barren desert into fertile steppe, or wipe out large areas of vegetation if moisture levels drop or temperature alters. Thus pollen diagrams show significant vertical and horizontal fluctuation. The size of the Central Asia desert will also impact on the societies that inhabit its fringe. When the desert is limited compared to its
potential size it may be crossed by organised groups or settled by nomads, depending on the conditions of oases or other water sources. If the desert expands to its maximum size, however, the ability to traverse the region will be much more limited. Communities on the fringe of the desert may have to migrate or adapt to their new environment. These same communities that may have maintained contact across the desert may be cut off from each other if the desert expands beyond a certain point. The fact that the environment can impact on society and history is clear from many modern and historic sources. The Viking expansion from AD 800-1100 coincides with milder and highly profitable weather in Scandinavia; the Viking farm settlements in Greenland, for example, are evidence that what is now a harsh environment was then, at least, on the coast, a more hospitable environment. In the winter AD 723-724 the eastern Turks suffered a severe set back when they lost most of their cattle in an unusually harsh Mongolian winter. The expansions of the Mongol empire after the third century occurred as the Mongolian steppes dried out but the regions south-west of Mongolia entered a wetter more fertile phase (Morner and Karlen 1984). These isolated events are often cited as evidence of how the environment can impact on human society. The problem is not whether climatic changes determine some features of the historical process for it is evident that they affect human communities and compel them to economic and social regulations. The problems are rather; what kind of climatic change acts on history and affects human society; with what kinds of regularity do these changes occur; how do changes occur; on what kinds of human societies are changes most likely manifest; which sector of their activity will be affected and to what extent do these changes occur? The problem that also needs to be addressed is how environmental changes in one region can have knock on effects in surrounding regions, either environmentally or socially. Furthermore, can pan-regional or global patterns be seen? If the palaeoenvironment of many regions is observed then interpretations of past societies and factors in their development can be deduced. To answer specific questions concerning the climate zone of a specific region the use of generalised global change studies will not reflect the true local climatic conditions.
CULTURE OF KAZAKHSTAN AND EURASIAN An understanding of the palaeoenvironment is an important step towards understanding the cultural history of Kazakhstan. This is because so many events in the cultural history of Kazakhstan have been influenced, or directly resultant from climatic changes (Sala 2003). The history and culture of the three major cultures surrounding Kazakhstan, China, India and Europe, have all been influenced by climatic changes within Central Asia and also have strong connections with the cultures of Central Asia. When climatic conditions were stable this could promote expansion as raiding parties could venture out of the steppe and into the surrounding regions. The expansion of the Androvonian culture and the Cimmerian culture from Central Asia into Northern India and Europe was facilitated by a relatively fertile period with favourable climatic conditions that allowed these groups to support their gradual migrations. The collapse of the Indus Valley civilisation has been linked to incursions from these groups. Likewise the Chou Dynasty of China collapsed in 771 BC due to incursions from the steppes. If climatic conditions deteriorated the nomadic lifestyle was limited in its ability to allow the movement of flexible and
adaptable small-scale migrations and raids. The Saka culture was forced from Central Asia by a gradually deteriorating climate. The Saka migrated away from the eastern steppe with its seasonal extremes of temperature and humidity. This group would develop into the Scythian culture as they began to move west, bringing its distinctive artistic style now seen on artefacts from Eastern Europe to Mongolia. In this case the Saka/Scythian culture was forced from the steppe due to a deteriorating climate. Their settlement towards the west may represent as little as two or three migrations. This contrasts with the small-scale migrations that preceded them. Favourable climatic conditions will facilitate individual initiative and small group movement, frequent but small raids or migrations that maintain contact with their â€˜homelandâ€™. During more severe conditions migrations are often a necessity to escape detrimental changes within entire areas, hence large migrations. The expansion of the Mongol tribes would occur in the wake of a colder wetter phase that made life on the Mongol steppes more difficult. The Mongols were displaced from Mongolia and instead followed the more fertile steppes to the west and south, from Kazakhstan to Europe and the Middle East. This migration would break through south Central Asia and eventually over many other areas of the Eurasian continent, including China, the Middle East, Eastern Europe and the Indian subcontinent.
CONCLUSION The environmental functionalism approach applied here is often unpopular with postprocessual theorists because it suggests that social and cultural developments are intrinsically linked to environmental factors (see Oâ€™Connor 2005, 7). Many of the major changes within the human populations of Kazakhstan, however, have been made as a response to environmental factors. Culture is an adaptive phenomenon. It is a means through which human societies cope with the world around them. Environmental change is for most populations an uncontrollable event, which cannot be ignored by social structures and food acquisition or other economic activities. It is important to remember that material culture and social construction vary enormously throughout the world and through time. The environment and climate, on the other hand, have been and will remain a constant force in the life of all civilisations, past and present.
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS Much thanks is due to the members of the Laboratory of Geo-Archaeology of Kazakhstan for their continuing help, especially Bolat Aubekerov (director, quaternary geologist), Renato Sala (co-director, paleo-climatologist), Jeanmarc Deom (GIS specialist), Rebecca Beardmore (archaeologist) and Alexey Rogozhinsky (archaeologist).
BIBLIOGRAPHY NOTE: Much of the present study is based upon personal conversations with members of the Laboratory of Geo-Archaeology of Kazakhstan. Much of this work has not been published or translated. The following bibliography contains general works as well as some published writing from the Laboratory of Geo-Archaeology of Kazakhstan. Alexandrovsky, A.1998. Paleosoils of North Caucasus Kurgans: Studies of Holocene paleoenvironmental changes. In F. Oldfield and K. Alverson (eds) PAGES: Past Global Changes and their significance for the future 6 (2). Ambrosiani, B. 1984. Settlement expansion, settlement contraction. A question of war, plague, ecology or climate? In N.A. Morner and W. Karlen (eds) Climatic changes on a yearly to millennial basis: geological, historical and instrumental records. UK. Aubekerov, B., Sala, R. and Nigmatova, S. 2003. Late Holocene Paleoclimate and Paleogeography in the Tien Shan-Balkhash Region. In A. Ojala, C. Kull and K. Alverson (eds) PAGES News 11 (2 & 3), 24-26. Aubekerov, B., Sala, R., Nigmatova, S. and Beardmore, R. n.d. Geo-Archaeology in Kazakhstan: Paleo-geography, paleoclimate, location of monuments. Unpublished report. Clarke, D., Sala, R., Deom, J. and Meseth, E. 2005. Reconstructing irrigation at the Otrar Oasis, Kazakhstan 800-1700 AD. In T. Sadewasser (ed.) Integrated Land and Water Resources Management in History. Schriften der DWhG, Sonderband 2, Siegburg, 3-14. Mays, S. 1998. The Archaeology of Human bones, London. Morner, N. A. and Karlen, W. (eds). 1984. Climatic changes on a yearly to millennial basis: geological, historical and instrumental records, UK. Newbrun, E. 1982. Sugar and dental caries: a review of human studies. Science 217, 418-423. Oâ€™Connor, T and Evans, J.G. 2005. Environmental Archaeology: Principles and Methods, Gloucestershire. Oldfield, F. and Alverson, K. 2000. PAGES: Ecosystems processes and past human impacts. News of the International Paleoscience Society 8 (3). Pearson, R. 1978. Climate and evolution, London. Roberts, N. 1989. The Holocene: An environmental history, Oxford. Sala, R. 2003. Historical Survey of Irrigation Practices in West Central Asia, Kazakhstan. Sala, R., Aubekerov, B., Deom, J. and Messeth, E. 2004. Geomorphology, geology, climate, hydrology of the Otrar oasis, Almaty, Shaulder Municipality. Sala, R. and Deom, J. 2005. Bronze Age human habitats of Semirechie. Vsia Asia 6. Almaty, Kazakhstan. Sala, R. n.d. Methodological Problems concerning the correlation between palaeoclimatic and archaeological data. Unpublished didactic composition. Wilkenson, K and Stevens, C. 2003. Environmental Archaeology: Approaches, Techniques and Applications, UK. Yestefeyev A, Sala R. and Rogozhinsky, A. (eds). In Preparation. The formation process of nomadic societies at the transition from Late Bronze to Early Iron in Semirechie.
Archaeology and the Media Gearoid Kelleher How is archaeology treated by the mass media? Television, in particular, is an integral part of society and is especially prominent in the home. The influence of this, together with print media, can be both positive and negative. Too often incorrect assumptions are recycled and this can be reflected in the general public conception of archaeologists. Where do these conceptions come from? Do news reports portray archaeology in a negative light or are we the ‘saviours of Irish heritage’? What can we, as archaeologists, do to incorporate the media into our discipline?
INTRODUCTION Lara Croft smashes her way into an ancient pyramid, packed with ancient skeletons, treasure and mechanical booby traps. She grabs a creeper and swings effortlessly across a cobra ridden underground vault, snatches a golden goblet from a crumbling stone altar and then fending off spiders, she retreats into the dense jungle while the entire edifice collapses around her (Robinson and Aston 2003). Lara Croft, the Indiana Jones of the twenty-first century, is another ‘archaeologist’ who, while swinging from a whip in exotic locations, never seems to find time to fill in a context sheet! We, as archaeologists, know the above passage could not be further from the truth, with Figure 1 resembling a more familiar archaeological setting. This is certainly not a crumbling tomb in some mysterious jungle but a field, waterlogged, either too warm or too cold and undoubtedly miles from the nearest flushing toilet.
Figure 1- A more typical Irish archaeological setting (© G. Kelleher).
Furthermore, while preparing for work in the morning, archaeologists never find it necessary to pack an ancient map, a pistol or a passport. Why then do some of the general 100
public think we do? When introduced to a person for the first time, conversation inevitably turns to occupation and many archaeologists may have encountered the following; after reassuring the person that “Yes, I am a real Archaeologist” there is a veritable bombardment of questions such as: So you’re like Indiana Jones then? Followed by, Where is your whip? Or my personal favourite: Have you found any gold lately? These questions of course are all quite inappropriate. In a general working day, one is never in a position where a ceiling is descending at an alarming rate due to the removal of an obscure artefact from an ancient tomb. In reality the closest flirtation with danger that one encounters is traversing a slippery barrow-board with an overfilled wheel-barrow, or feeling the familiar drops of rain while simultaneously remembering that the ‘wet-gear’ is at home. The Publics’ response to the archaeological profession is changing however. Recently, while monitoring the topsoil stripping of an area, a machine driver enquired as to whether the company had carried out any “geophys”, naturally referring to a geophysical survey. He explained that he had heard the term on television but did not know exactly what it meant. With these commonly perceived ideas of archaeology and archaeologists in mind, I will explore what I believe are the major sources moulding the publics’ perception of the profession.
THE HARRIS SURVEY In 1999, Harris Interactive Data Collection Centre, on behalf of the Society for American Archaeology, conducted a survey. Its goal was to understand the perceptions, knowledge and attitudes of the general public towards archaeology. The survey was carried out over forty-eight states, involving 1,016 adults. These findings are transferable to the Irish population who now have access to international news through a wide variety of media, particularly the Internet. The sources of public awareness highlighted can be seen in Table 1:
Table 1 – Sources of information on archaeology (© G. Kelleher)
Over half the respondents cited television as the biggest source of information on archaeology, with a large number specifically stating the Discovery Channel and National Geographic. It is also noteworthy that several of the participants listed a combination of media types as their source of information. The researchers also asked the public what they perceived the main activities of archaeologists to be; thirteen per cent thought digging and excavating; twelve per cent said finding and discovering; ten per cent said archaeologists studied dinosaurs while three per cent thought documenting and analysing. When questioned further, respondents were requested to rate what they considered to be the world’s most important sites; thirty-eight per cent thought Egypt; eighteen per cent said sites involving dinosaurs; ten per cent thought Biblical sites and a further ten per cent suggested Italy and/or Roman Empire sites. Interestingly, the sites that rated highest are both well documented in the media and are also popular holiday destinations.
THE IMPORTANCE OF TELEVISION Since fire was harnessed, the hearth has been a place for society to gather around, to feel safe, to educate and to learn. Has television now become the new hearth? The majority of Irish households have at least one television set, with estimated viewing time averaging approximately five hours per day. As a result of such exposure, it is understandable that television is a primary source of knowledge. In another section of The Harris Survey it was observed that fifty-six per cent of the general public preferred learning about archaeology from the television, compared to ten per cent who preferred the idea of onsite participation. In any twenty-four hour period one can browse through hundreds of satellite channels and be guaranteed to find an ‘Egypt marathon’ or ‘Time Team weekend’. The portrayal of archaeology through television, however, has both positive and negative impacts. One advantage involves bringing the public on a fascinating journey into the past and presenting them with a representation of lives long since ended. Conversely, it can introduce fictional accounts and concepts, such as those sometimes portrayed by Hollywood. Reality or Television If a member of the public is asked to name an archaeologist, it is likely they will reply “that guy from Time Team, you know, he was in Black Adder”. Tony Robinson, however, is not an archaeologist but he endears himself to the public with every episode. He acts as a filter for information, transferring the jargon into digestible lay-mans terms, while also asking the questions that the general public would like to know the answers to. Time Team has certainly been successful in swaying public perceptions towards a more realistic viewpoint. Despite its sometimes unglamorous depiction of archaeology, especially when compared to the sparkling Hollywood vista, the show is immensely popular with the public. Channel 4 viewing figures for 2003 indicated that the show had regular viewing figures of 3.4 million. Interestingly, in 2004 when Big Brother promised
the prospect of live sex on TV it commanded the same viewing figures as Time Team, confirming what has often been suggested, that archaeology is sexy! Perhaps television producers should consider an archaeology-based reality TV experiment following the onsite exploits of an Archaeological team. It could be called:
Viewers would be allowed to decide which archaeologist gets to dig which feature and who has to work with whom. There are certainly some characters out there that would make for excellent viewing! One major criticism of Time Team, however, is the ‘beat-the-clock’ element of the programme. The site must be resolved in three days, resulting in the general public assuming that this is a realistic time-frame in which to complete an excavation. It can be difficult then to blame the public when they display resentment towards archaeologists for the delay of a development. Along a similar theme to Time Team is a television programme called Extreme Archaeology. The series’ producer, Mel Morpeth, stated: We wanted to create a series that wouldn’t be perceived as just another archaeology TV show. Too often TV viewers see experts wading across muddy fields with paper maps blowing in the wind, we wanted to bring archaeology bang up to the twentieth century. Those of us with a commercial background, however, have never had to climb a rock face or hack through jungle, as is proposed in the programmes agenda. Wading across muddy fields on the other hand is much more common-place. It is worth noting that archaeology on television is not a new concept. In the 1950s a programme called ANIMAL MINERAL VEGETABLE featured the archaeologist, Sir Mortimer Wheeler, as a regular guest on the panel. In the Bluffers Guide to Archaeology, Paul Bahn recounts how Sir Mortimer would visit the local museum of the town featured on the show, browsing and noting which artefacts were missing from the display cases and later, faultlessly recant the story of the artefact he was presented with live on air.
EXTRA, EXTRA, READ ALL ABOUT IT…… The print media also has a large role to play in presenting archaeology to the masses. There are two diverse styles of newspaper, the Tabloid and the Broad Sheet. Stereotypically, tabloids are seen as the papers of the lower classes, while broad sheets are aimed at the higher classes. The publishers of these newspapers, therefore, write the reports according to their perceived demographic. Karol Kulik, University of Southampton, recently spoke of the 1998 discovery of a three million year old hominid fossil in South Africa and the differing portrayals offered by the two classes of newspaper (presented at the European Association of Archaeologists annual meeting, 8th September 2005). The same story reported in the broad sheets read like an anthropologists’ thesis, while the tabloid version branded the fossil ‘the missing link’. A more recent example in an Irish context concerns the discovery of two 2,000 year old bog bodies, Oldcroghan Man from Co. Offaly (Fig. 2) and Clonycavan Man from Co. Meath (Fig. 3). Both were the subject of a BBC Timewatch documentary and reported upon in various newspapers/magazines, four of which are worth commenting on: The Irish Times; The Weekender; The Meath Chronicle and Archaeology Ireland.
Figure 2 - Oldcroghan Man (from Kelly 2006, 28)
Figure 3 - Clonycavan Man (from Kelly 2006, 26-7)
A broad sheet, The Irish Times, featured the story on a quarter of its front page and also a full page of its weekend supplement. Under the title ‘Men of Iron’, Dick Ahlstronm detailed the discovery, analysis and the circumstances of both men’s demise in a very technical fashion. The front page contained a large picture of Clonycavan Man, as well as a facial reconstruction. The article focused on fact and academic endeavour, extensively quoting Eamonn Kelly of the National Museum, while still engaging the reader with descriptive prose. The Weekender, a tabloid/local newspaper for the Meath area, devoted a small headline on its front page to the story and continued the feature on page fifteen, where it consisted of a minor amount of technical detail and a larger emphasis on ‘When two Clonycavan Men Met’, detailing an interview with the Bord na Mona worker whose sharp eyes launched the international research effort. The newspaper focused on the human-interest angle rather than the broader archaeological impact.
The Meath Chronicle, a parochial broadsheet, dedicated a quarter page to the discovery. It was dominated by a large photograph of the Clonycavan man undergoing a CT Scan and dealt with the pathological and medical analysis rather than an archaeological focus. The 2006 Spring edition of Archaeology Ireland contained an article by Eamonn Kelly of the National Museum of Ireland. This presented a good balance between academic analysis and a fascinating read. It is noteworthy that all of these articles were written in 2006, two years after the actual archaeological discovery was made and presumably only as a result of the BBC Timewatch television documentary on the bog bodies.
UNIVERSITY CHALLENGED In the University of Bristol, the Department of Archaeology, in conjunction with the Department of Drama, offer a MA in Archaeology for Screen Media. Its specific aim is to provide direct experience in a professional archaeological programme-making environment through relevant work placement. Participants can come from either an archaeological or drama background and learn a practical introduction to archaeology and film production. Students also get the opportunity to partake in the professional production of a film shoot during the course (Fig. 4). No such educational opportunity exists in Ireland to date. The closest is a second year module in University College Dublin entitled ‘Interpreting Archaeology, discussions on ethical and philosophical issues facing archaeology today’. It is likely that the role of media in archaeology is an integral part of these discussions.
Figure 4 – Archaeology on film (© Channel4.com).
CONCLUSION It is undeniable that the public perception of archaeology is unclear. It is certainly necessary to highlight the media’s involvement in harbouring and perpetuating common misconceptions, while simultaneously offering a medium with which to educate the masses. It would, however, be unfair to solely blame the media for peoples’ lack of knowledge, it is up to each individual to accept or discard what they see or read. As archaeologists, the power to educate the public is in our hands. This can be accomplished in a variety of ways:
Within schools archaeology currently constitutes one chapter of the Junior Certificate history syllabus. Transition year students could therefore benefit from work experience in museums, on sites or from placements with the various county council archaeologists, etc.
Post-Leaving Certificate courses, such as “An introduction to Archaeology” at the Cork College of Commerce, should be promoted to increase awareness.
Community groups should be encouraged to set up local archaeological societies to better understand and appreciate their own local heritage.
In the universities, joint ventures, such as that in the University of Bristol, should be encouraged. If such unions existed perhaps the BBC Bog Bodies documentary would have been an RTE production.
An Irish version of Time Team could be established to increase awareness of all our national treasures, not just those made from precious metal.
The National Museum could appoint a Public Relations media spokesperson who understands both the media and archaeological arenas and can release official press statements portraying a unified voice for Irish archaeologists.
Overall, as archaeologists it is our role to educate the public, embrace the media and enjoy the results.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS I would to thank Michelle, without her patience and advice I could not have completed the article. Thanks also to Kerri and the AYIA committee for inviting me to speak, for the guidance and a really enjoyable conference.
BIBLIOGRAPHY Ahlstrom, D. January 7th 2006. Face from the Past/Man of Iron. The Irish Times, Vol. 47517, Weekened Review, 1-2. Bahn, P. 2004. The Bluffers Guide to Archaeology, London. Kelly, E. 2006. Secrets of bog bodies: the enigma of the iron age explained, Archaeology Ireland 20(1), 26-30. Ramos, M. and Duganne, D. 2000. Harris Interactive for the Society for American Archaeology. www.saa.org/pubRel/publicEd-poll.html Robinson, T. and Aston, M. 20002. Archaeology is Rubbish, Oxford. January 21st 2006. When two Clonycavan men met. The Weekender, Vol. 23(3), 1; 15. January 21st 2006. Documentary on Ballivor bog body who was murdered. The Meath Chronicle, property section, 16. www.bris.ac.uk www.cr.nps.gov
Proceedings of the 2006 Association of Young Irish Archaeologists Conference