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Day 15 – A Day of Discovery

Today was an intense one on the site with many remarkable discoveries and many remarkable visitors. The bottoming of cuttings is providing a much clearer picture of the phases of activity on the site. We had been passing by a large greywacke stone up against the corner of the medieval wall for the last two seasons, convinced there has to be a prehistoric tomb in this area. Greywacke is a distinctive type of stone used in passage tombs in the Boyne Valley. Further fragments of greywacke and flints have turned up in other cuttings close by. Today Eamonn and John uncovered what could be a stone socket cut into the boulder clay which contained a flint core, strengthening our suspicions that there may be a tomb here. Could the monks have dismantled the cairn of this tomb to make way for cultivating the ground and subsequently, re-used the cairn stone to make the barn? This is exactly what happened to the smaller tombs at Newgrange when the medieval Cistercian monks cleared the ground for cultivation around the  main tomb. This possible tomb, together with the Late Neolithic pit circle, forms part of a prehistoric horizon at Bey More. Margaret Keane, Director of the Archaeological Survey of Ireland on a visit to the site, also noticed part of an unfinished saddle quern re-used as a lintel in the drain that crosses the barn from north to south. Michala (UCD) has confirmed that the stone surface had been worked. Anthony is excavating the fill of this drain in the hopes of finding dating evidence. Tom and Mick found more Saintonge potsherds, one sherd was in a cultivation furrow that runs under the kiln. Today, we were delighted to welcome Dr John O’Keefe, CEO of the Discovery Programme and Caoimhe to the site and greatly appreciated a lively discussion. Members of the NMS Ciorcal Comhra and National Monuments Service Photographic Unit paid an unexpected and much enjoyed visit.  Alan Betson, award winning Irish Times photographer (three time winner of Photographer of the Year), also came at the end of the day to take some shots of the site for a forthcoming piece by Louise Walsh on the excavation. So watch this space for news!

The excavation at the end of Day 15 (drone photo by Anthony Murphy).

Michala demonstrates how the saddle quern would have been created by knocking the surface with a hammerstone.

Masterclass on the kiln from John Sunderland (right) for visitors from the National Monuments Service and John O’Keeffe (with Caoimhe, in high-viz jackets) of the Discovery Programme (photo by Grace McCullen).

The Usual Suspects! Members of the National Monuments Service Ciorcal Comhra visit Beaubec (photo by Grace McCullen).

Oliver is presented with a copy of Geraldine Stout’s Newgrange and the Bend of the Boyne. You can read along with Oliver by purchasing a copy from Cork University Press.

Despite being such a hard worker on the site, Elliot is presented with Matthew Stout’s Early Medieval Ireland. You can read along with Elliott by purchasing a copy from Wordwell Books.

Thank you and goodbye to Oliver, Elliott and Anelia who head back to USA.

Highly-decorated sherd of Saintonge pottery (photo by Mick Mongey).

On tour at the western end of the excavation.

Still on tour at the eastern end of the excavation. Bronagh keeps working despite the tumult.

From left are Elizabeth, Sean Collins, Dusty Flanagan, Margaret Keane, Seamus, Lynn, Tony Roche and co-Director Geraldine. Site mascot Sandy is in the foreground. Just some of the many distinguished visitors to Beaubec on Day 15.

Elizabeth Gardner’s reconstruction of the missing fortified residence at Beaubec. These reconstructions help us understand how the building worked when it was a busy Cistercian grange.

Elizabeth Gardner’s reconstruction of the missing fortified residence at Beaubec from the south-east. This illustration draws upon the expertise of archaeologist and castles specialist David Sweetman and architect Barry Drinan.

Elizabeth Gardner’s reconstruction of the wooden stairs leading down to the latrine in the service tower.

Elizabeth Gardner’s reconstruction of the latrine in the service tower.

Published by Matthew Stout

Lecturer, School of History and Geography, St Patrick's Campus, DCU

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