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Irish Archaeological Finds & Theories

I have been talking to people who know a bit more about mail and they say this story isn't possible. The mail is more like the stuff that's made for a reenactor - even to the style of the hoops of the metal and other stuff I don't really understand and the condition of the mail is just too good. Also it is very small which is apparently common in mail created in China. Gah!
It does look in extremely good condition, as though it's been in the ground (or someone's garage) for twenty years, not in the wilds for 800. I think historical mail was more likely to be riveted, which takes ages, while a lot of modern reenactor mail is butted, which is weaker. I knew more about these things a couple of years ago, and I know enough to know there are few clear cut answers in arms and armour.
Wouldn’t the museum people be able to tell the difference between a Norman vest & a modern Chinese one?

And though it does look small in the photo I reckon it would expand when worn.
I was wondering how young did men become fighters in those days. Maybe it's teenager sized.
The newly established Leitrim Sweathouse Project is dedicated to surveying and analyzing Ireland's historical sweathouses.
The unearthing of Ireland's mysterious naked sweathouses

Until the 1900s, when people in Ireland got sick, they would get naked and disappear into steamy saunas. Now, a new project is aiming to uncover these timeworn structures' secrets.

Naked and sweaty, they laid inside grass-covered stone igloo-like structures in the remote fields of Ireland. Some were ill, others may have been having hallucinations, hatching plans to distil illegal alcohol or imagining they were the Vikings who once raided this country. By the time these addled folk emerged from the structures back into the fresh air of 19th-Century Ireland, they had been through a jarring mental and physical journey. One that still holds many mysteries.

"Some people reckoned the cure was worse than the disease," archaeologist Aidan Harte told me of this sweltering experience, as he stood atop a 150-year-old Irish sweathouse in Killadiskert, an isolated corner of County Leitrim. "Part of the reason there's crazy theories about hallucinations and making alcohol is because we just don't fully know the truth about sweathouses and all their uses. They're a bit of a riddle that we're now trying to work out." ...

Harte is leading the new Leitrim Sweathouse Project with Leitrim County Council Heritage Officer Sarah Malone. Malone said their aim was to identify and demystify these timeworn structures, which are scattered across Ireland and were used as a sort of extreme stone sauna from the early 1600s to the early 1900s. ...

... most Irish sweathouses were built into hillsides or banks to bolster their foundation, and set in remote locations near a water source. Chunks of uncut rock, each a different shape and size, were carefully piled and then bonded with clay and sod to create a domed structure with a single low entrance, similar in appearance to an igloo. ...

Turf or wood was lit inside the sweathouse, before its entrance and roof vent were blocked, Harte said. After a few hours, smoke would be released, the embers swept out and a naked person would crawl into the stifling space and sweat for as long as they could bear. Eventually, they would emerge to cleanse and cool themselves in the nearby stream. Sometimes their condition improved, Harte said. The sweathouse had unfurled its earthen magic. ...

Not much has been documented about the historical use of sweathouses. ... Harte said some Leitrim residents he'd interviewed believe sweathouses weren't just used to treat illnesses. According to some tales he'd heard, sweathouses were makeshift distilleries for circumventing Ireland's long ban on distilling "poitin" moonshine. In another popular story, they once hosted drug-fuelled hallucination sessions aimed at connecting with the Celtic gods. ...

An even greater mystery than the use of sweathouses is their origin. According to Foley, there are four prevailing theories. One claims these structures can be traced to Scandinavia and the Vikings. Saunas have been used in northern Europe for more than 2,000 years, and Vikings had a major impact on Irish culture while occupying parts of the country between the 9th and 12th Centuries. Another theory posits they may have been imported from the US by returning Irish immigrants who'd studied Native American sweat lodges. Just as intriguing is the theory sweathouses were re-purposed fulacht fiadh, a type of ancient, outdoor Irish oven. Finally, some old antiquarian journals suggested the Irish creators of the sweathouse may have been inspired by seeing hammams while travelling in the Middle East, where the Islamic bathhouses have been used for more than a millennium. ...
FULL STORY: https://www.bbc.com/travel/article/20211010-the-unearthing-of-irelands-mysterious-naked-sweathouses
Pen found in 11th-century layer.

An Irish archaeologist has uncovered the oldest ink pen in Ireland during excavations in the Burren in County Clare.

Dr. Michelle Comber of the School of Geography, Archaeology, and Irish Studies at NUI Galway discovered the pen while carrying out excavations at Caherconnell Cashel, a settlement in the Burren dating back to the late 10th century.

The settlement, which was used continuously until the start of the 17th century, was home to wealthy local rulers who built their income on successful farming and trade.

Dr. Comber, along with the Caherconnell Archaeological Field School, discovered the pen in an 11th-century layer inside the settlement.

The pen is made up of a hollow bone barrel with a copper-alloy nib inserted into the end and caused a commotion when it was discovered as it is thought to be the oldest pen of its kind ever discovered in Ireland, while it also points to evidence of early literacy in Irish society. Almost all evidence of early literacy in Ireland is associated with the Catholic Church.

With that in mind, researchers were reluctant to believe that the pen was authentic and created a replica to test whether it could have functioned as a pen.

Adam Parsons of Blueaxe Reproductions manufactured a replica and confirmed that it works perfectly as a dip pen.

Boats found on both sides of the border.

History lies beneath the riverbeds of the north-west of Ireland.

Every so often, when conditions allow, archaeologists are rewarded with another offering from the distant past. Two more boats, understood to be from the medieval-era, have emerged from the River Foyle.

The boats, known as logboats or dugout boats, were found at a "dugout boat hotspot" near the Lifford Bridge. The bridge connects the towns of Strabane in Northern Ireland and Lifford, in County Donegal in the Republic of Ireland.

Marine archaeologist Dr Niall Gregory said the two boats now bring the total number found at this particular section of the river to 15. Overall, 21 such boats have been found at the confluence (meeting point) of the rivers Mourne and Finn into the River Foyle. Logboats are made from hollowed-out trees and can vary in size depending on the tree trunk used, Dr Gregory told BBC News NI. About 500 logboats have been found across the island of Ireland, he said.

One of the largest recorded was found in lower Lough Erne and measured nearly 60ft (18m) long and 3.2ft (1m) wide.

"These two boats found at the Lifford Bridge site were cargo ferry boats," he said. "These boats were designed as work horses, to move and manoeuvre with some degree of agility within a moderate to strong current. These two boats are from a dugout boat hotspot where they have appeared over the years, usually after seasonal high-water flows." ...

New finds suggest that medieval Cork city was larger than previously thought.

The men whose centuries-old remains were found buried under a landmark Cork city pub with their hands tied behind their backs “met a violent and gruesome end”, archaeologists have confirmed.

And it has also emerged that a second major archaeological discovery, a 1,000-year-old defensive ditch, found nearby on the site of the former Nancy Spain's pub on Barrack Street suggests that the mediaeval city was bigger than previously thought. The remarkable details shed fascinating new light on the city’s turbulent, bloody and often gruesome past, and prompt new questions about the pattern of human settlement in 11th-century Cork.

The information is contained in a major new report on the archaeological investigations which have taken place since the first skeletal remains were found last October during the demolition of the pub and associated groundworks to clear the site for a Cork City Council social housing scheme.

The Irish Examiner first reported the discovery of the historic bones, and how some of the skeletons had their hands tied behind their backs. ...

A well with tunnel exits, might be over 700 years old.

A mysterious deep stone-lined well that is referenced in one of Ireland's most ancient manuscripts has been discovered in County Roscommon.

Workers carrying out an investigation into a pipe at Boyle Family Resource Centre last week in Roscommon have unearthed what appears to be a deep stone-lined well with two tunnel exits at the rear of the building.

According to the Leitrim Observer, it was initially believed the discovery could be connected to a tunnel system that runs from Boyle Abbey to various locations around Boyle town, culminating at Assylinn graveyard.

Local sources say there is a reference to this tunnel and the ‘Assylinn Caves’ in the book the ‘Annals of Boyle’, an ancient manuscript composed by the monks of The Abbey of Boyle that chronicles medieval Ireland up to 1253. It is considered one of the most authentic records of ancient Irish history.

Morons or the work of a property developer?

An ancient tunnel discovered in the Dublin suburb of Donabate has been vandalized less than a month after it was first discovered.

The tunnel, which dates back to the 6th century, was damaged during an incident on Sunday, August 14.

Local councilor Corina Johnston said on Facebook that a weapon was used to smash stones around the newly-discovered enclosure.

"I am absolutely appalled and very angry that the recent archaeology find at Corballis, Donabate has been damaged by thugs in recent days," Johnston wrote on Facebook. "It seems a weapon (possibly a pick ax) was used to smash one of the large stones and other smaller stones around the enclosure into pieces with a huge gaping hole leaving the souterrain exposed to further destruction." ...

Johnston has also said that she is "deeply concerned" that the tunnel could be undermined by a planning application that has been submitted to An Bord Plenála.

She said the Environmental Impact Assessment Report for the planning application was submitted in 2021, one year before the discovery of the archaeological site.

She added that An Bord Pleanála has informed her that it cannot take further comments or information on board concerning the planning application, even though representatives from the National Monument Service have visited the site and confirmed that it is a significant archaeological find.

"This archaeological find was discovered by locals in fields at Corballis, Donabate, in recent weeks. Duncan Smith TD and I reported this to The National Monument Service who visited the site and confirmed that this can be classified as a souterrain (underground tunnel), a significant archaeological find which has now been added to the online nonstatutory Sites And Monuments Record," Johnston said.

"The National Monuments Service confirmed the monument will be noted for consideration for inclusion in any revisions of the Record of Monuments and Places (RMP) which is a statutory record which affords a measure of legal protection under existing legislation." ...

Johnston said runes from the Norse Futhark Alphabet were found on the tunnel ceiling, adding that the runes are even rarer than Ogham Stones.

Archaeologists have also found the remains of copper, charcoal, and bones in an enclosure located on the extended site.

Archaeology: Lurgan volunteers dig in at churchyard site

An archaeological dig is taking place in County Armagh amid speculation that it is the site of an old churchyard.
Kilmocholmóg, which means 'church of my little Colman', is being excavated after an investigation found there may be stone features underground.
The site in Lurgan is believed to have been used as a graveyard until the 1840s, when the train line from Belfast to Armagh cut across it.
Locals believe the last person buried there was a woman from Tyrone.
It is thought her coffin had to be carried across the railway line.
The dig, which involves archaeologists and members of the community, is taking place from 22 to 27 August.

For volunteer Daniel Miller, it is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
"I've had a bucket list that I made before it was popular to make a bucket list," Mr Miller said.
"One of the items on the list was to take part in an archaeological dig."
Daniel, who works in IT, is realising a childhood dream by taking part.
"I've always been obsessed with archaeology," he said.
"I'd always thought I missed my calling by going into IT rather than doing something like this."
Mr Miller said he was intrigued as to where the church might lie.
"Me and my wife have been going: 'I bet it's there, I bet it's there,'" he said.
(c) BBC. News NI. '21.
Hidden castles in Belfast.

The history of Belfast can be told through many of its street names and buildings, much of it reflecting the city's industrial heritage and Victorian boom.

But in one block, under the feet of shoppers, there is a story which dates back several hundred years.
Castle Lane, Castle Arcade, Castle Place and Castle Buildings.
Each pay tribute to the site of not one, but three Belfast castles, and archaeologists believe their foundations and artefacts could still lie below the surface.
Part of the area is the former British Homes Stores (BHS) site, which is now to be converted into a complex of leisure and retail units.
It will be called The Keep, a nod by developers to a past which was first referenced in 1262.

Then it was an Anglo-Norman castle, believed to consist of an earthen mound, similar to mottes that remain visible in townlands such as Dundonald.

It was a "critical part of the medieval Norman settlement of Belfast", striding the Farset River, which we now know as High Street, archaeologist Ruairí Ó Baoill told BBC News NI.

However, the site was destroyed in the 1300s, as power shifted to the Gaelic lords in Ireland, such as the Clandeboye O'Neills.
The O'Neills in turn built a new castle, a "strategic base", Mr Ó Baoill explained.
"We know there was a castle there because there are references to it being attacked in the 1400s and the 1500s in both Irish and English histories and it's actually shown in two maps," he said.
Medieval burials have also been documented in Cornmarket, an area which is now home to shops, cafes and buskers. ...

"At the end of the 16th century the Gaelic lords went into revolt and they were defeated by the forces of Queen Elizabeth I, one of whom was Arthur Chichester," Mr Ó Baoill said. "He was given land all over the place, including the town of Belfast."

A report by the plantation commissioners in 1611 gives an account of shops being built in the new Chichester town, with 120,000 bricks being used by masons.

Among the writings is a reference to the old "decayed" castle, the O'Neill building, part of which was retained and linked to the new Chichester castle via a staircase.

The third castle survived for a century, but burnt down in 1708, killing four people, including three sisters of the 4th Earl of Donegall.

An enlightening find.

An Irish archaeological photographer has discovered a remarkable series of prehistoric carvings at the Grange Stone Circle in Lough Gur, County Limerick.

Ken Williams, a leading Irish archaeological photographer, has developed methods of lighting stones so that they can be photographed to maximum effect, allowing him to find a series of carvings over the past few years.

Williams was returning to check the stones at Grange Stone Circle as part of his research when he discovered the new carvings.

The new carvings are particularly spectacular due to the presence of concentric circles and arcs found on the back and sides of a stone at the north entrance passage to the prehistoric enclosure.

Dr. Elizabeth Shee Twohig, who has published extensive research on megalithic and rock art, remarked that the carvings are extremely rare for Munster and Connacht.

"The carvings are quite like those at passage tombs in the North and East of the country, such as Knowth and Newgrange, but there is only a single carved stone of this kind in Munster or Connaught," Dr. Shee Twohig said in a statement.

"It is possible that the stone is contemporary with the banked enclosure henge at c.3000 BC and was incorporated into the circle built inside the enclosure at a slightly later date."

Not yer man’s, obviously. He’s a Bren gun, so he has.

My Great Uncle didn’t have a Bren gun.

He did have a thick mossy moustache.
And his name was Mostyn Lee.
Right you are. I am not the god of shooters after all.
"It is possible that the stone is contemporary with the banked enclosure henge at c.3000 BC and was incorporated into the circle built inside the enclosure at a slightly later date."
Is that pre-Celt? Who were the people there 5009 years ago? So little knowledge of the first waves of Irish.
Right you are. I am not the god of shooters after all.

Is that pre-Celt? Who were the people there 5009 years ago? So little knowledge of the first waves of Irish.

definitely Pre-Celt