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Day 19 – The office

After morning break the office team; Catriona Devane (Director of the Finds office), Rosanne Meenan (pottery expert), Penny Johnson (environmental archaeologist) and Deirdre Kelly (finds assistant), came outside for an up-to-date tour of the site. Because they are stationed in the yard office and work intensely processing the finds, they miss out on a lot that is happening on site but their work is invaluable. Collette Farrell, Director of the Droichead Arts Centre came this morning to talk to artist in residence at Beaubec, John Sunderland about his work. The two Gerry’s, Sean and Aaron are still digging in search of the much desired east corner wall of the barn which is running toward the tower. Their numerous finds included fragments of a fine roof ridge tile. Along the north side of the barn an exploratory trench is being dug to find the original entrance and Daniel found another coin. Anthony found a plough pebble in the fill of the drain. John Mc Cullen came down in the afternoon to offer free Ríocht na Midhe journals to the team. In the afternoon it was great to welcome to the site retired NMS archaeologist Con Manning with his friend the writer Adrian Kenny. Ciarán McDonnell, Tourism Marketing Officer, Meath County Council also paid us a visit. Local composer Michael Holahan and poet Susan Connolly called in in the afternoon to have a look at the barn and the finds. It is not everyday that an excavation has visits from not one but two members of Aosdána.

The office! Out on the site were the excavation’s tireless office workers Rosanne (left), Deirdre, Caitríona and Penny (holding Wes), photo by Mick Mongey.

Gerry (from Bellewstown) with long-serving Aidan and John (photo by Grace McCullen).

Everyone stops to hear John address the excavation team. Today he gave everyone a complimentary copy of Ríocht na Midhe, the journal of the Meath Archaeological and Historical Society (photo by Grace McCullen).

This photo show co-director Matthew Stout with author Adrian Kenny. They last met over 48 years ago. Both were a bit younger then. Adrian, a member of Aosdána, is the author of The Feast of Michaelmas (novel, 1978), Arcady (stories, 1983), Before the Wax Hardened (autobiography, 1991), Istanbul Diary (1994), The Family Business (1999) and Portobello Notebook (2012). Three of his books can be purchased from Lilliput Press (photo by Mick Mongey).

John and Geraldine with Archaeologist Con Manning. Con was Geraldine’s colleague in the National Monuments Service.

Medieval ridge tile found by the team at the far east of the excavation (photo by Mick Mongey).

Today the diggers Gerry, Seán and Gerard (with Aaron not shown) found out that what was believed to be the corner of the barn wasn’t. It continues to extend to the east towards the service tower. Anthony and Elizabeth are trowelling in the foreground.

Bernie (left), Tom and Molly at work on the wall of the Great Barn of Beaubec.

Daniel discovered a coin which Kieran Campbell believed might be medieval (watch this space for more details). Miraculously spotted by Daniel in the top soil (photo by Mick Mongey).

Artist in residence John Sunderland with Director of the Droichead Arts Centre Collette Farrell.

Patricia Ryan with her two children Mattias and Sophia. Patricia worked for years in Irish archaeology and was kind enough to lend us her support today.

John with Peter McCullen and Dermot McCullen. Peter designed the logo for this year’s excavation.

Anthony shows where the plough pebble was discovered.

Above and below are detailed photos of where the plough pebble was found, associated with the medieval drain.

Martin, Martin Jr and May Colfer from Navan (via Slane) visited the site in the morning.

Comhall visited the site on Wednesday. He is much taller than when he first worked with us on the excavation of the Newgrange Farm Cursus in 2018 (see below). So tall in fact, that Tom had to stand on a tin of paint to reach his height (photo by Louise Walshe).


Comhall at Newgrange Farm Cursus in 2018.

Matt was a bit lazy taking this photo as it addresses two momentous events on the site in one picture. In the forground is Bea sporting the medal awarder her by Tom Ó Hostín for being ‘young archaeologist of the year’. In the background are two distinguished visitors to the site; Ciarán McDonnell (left, historian working with Meath County Council) and Drogheda Poet Sudan Connolly.

Nature watch by Mick Mongey: Beaubec Fossils
A source of interest to many on site are the fossils visible in many of the building stones being uncovered by the excavation. The predominant bedrock in this part of County Meath is carboniferous limestone, formed 355 million years ago. This limestone has been quarried for centuries and is the main type of stone found in the surviving walls of the medieval grange at Beaubec. The limestones formed in tropical seas as evidenced by the fossils visible in many of the limestone building stones and rubble on the site. The most common fossil found on site by avid fossil hunters Bea and Anelia are Crinoids. Sometimes these are known as Sea Lilies Crinoid are in fact a sea animal

A mix of Crinoid Fossils from a lintel stone from medieval drain

Published by Matthew Stout

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

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