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Day 3 – Breaking rocks in the hot sun

The team worked hard all day in the hot sun in search of the medieval levels of Beaubec farm. The Pearson avenue was expertly trowelled by Treasa Kerrigan who generously volunteered her time today. Thank you, Treasa! She uncovered a long section of the medieval farm building wall which had actually been reused to form the road surface to the eighteenth century avenue. Craig and Alex have been expertly managing the spoil heap and Craig even uncovered a stone wall in the process. A number of worked flint tools were found by Molly and Tom which reminds us of the prehistoric communities at Bey More who built the pit circle. Mary, John  and Adam have been patiently working their way down through the centuries and have now come down on the medieval walls in their square. Matt and John began planning newly uncovered structures and drawing sections. Anthony Murphy came to record it all in the afternoon with his magical drone.

Link to Anthony Murphy’s video of Beaubec on the first day of excavation. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VSQBdNurQfQ

Most of the diggers present on Day 2. Thank you everyone.

Billy Sines, who has been a part of archaeological team since Newgrange Farm in 2018, visited the site today. He now finds himself in the ranks of professional archaeology.

Digging and recording on Day 3 (Photo: Mick Mongey).

Donal (left) negotiates the spoil heap that is immaculately maintained by Craig.

John, archaeologist and artist in residence, records the eastern section face of Cutting A

Co-director Matthew Stout recording the post-medieval layers at Beaubec.

Treasa and Craig towelling at the start of the day (Photo: Mick Mongey).

Treasa Cody’s trowelled masterpiece in Cutting V6.

Before and after, spot the difference: At the start (top) and end (bottom) of day 3. Note the immaculately trowelled Pearson avenue in V6 and the sods removed in cutting V12 due to the hard work of Donal and Leo (Drone photo: Anthony Murphy).

Nature watch: Crinoid fossils discovered by Bea McCullen (Photo: Grace McCullen).

Day 2 – Settling in

It’s hard to believe it’s only the second day on site. Everyone has settled into a steady rhythm of digging, shovelling and barrowing. The roadies have done an excellent job erecting  all the gazebos which will shelter us and the tools in the changeable conditions that is all part of an Irish summer. Well done! Sod is off in all the squares and we are working our way through an early modern layer with fragments of blackware, stoneware and china filling the finds trays. The Pearson avenue is on view again with its stone lined edges and cobbled surface. In some squares, we are already coming down on the medieval walls and some fragments of medieval floor tiles, medieval potsherds (including a rimsherd which is probably French Saintonge). What a heavenly moment on site when Jason came down with a tray of scrumptious, freshly made chocolate chip cookies, which vanished in seconds before they could be photographed. Thank you Jason! Conor Brady paid us a visit and brought his sieve which he kindly loans to us each year. Our archaeologist/artist in residence, John Sunderland, began his creative journey today.

Our new tool shed for the site equipment.

Uncovering the eighteenth century avenue.

Jason’s empty tray, the chocolate chip cookies are all gone.

Bea and Anelia discovered an ancient fossil when trowelling in the cuttings.

Mick found a rimsherd of possible French Saintonge pottery.

Anthony found an elegant knife.

Alex revealed the medieval wall.

Aidan, Áine and Anthony (Photo: Grace McCullen).

Mary directs John and Adam, two newcomers both proud graduates of DCU (Photo: Grace McCullen).

Andy, Craig and Alex, the cool dudes cutting.

Planning the day ahead with Geraldine, Mick and Morris (Photo: Grace McCullen).

The large crew (we count 22) at work in the damp afternoon.

Site co-director Geraldine with Conor Brady of DKIT.

A beautiful frog and a beautiful frog photo by Mick Mongey.

Day 1, Season 3 – And we’re back

Over 36 volunteers and a dozen or so visitors to the site were on hand to witness the turning of the first sod. Barney McAdam, who farms the field, is one of the oldest residents in the area and he performed the first-day duties. John McCullen (landowner) and Geraldine Stout (co-director) gave brief addresses and then we were off to the races. If you have any doubts about how much work was done in the first day, just compare the before and after photos taken by drone photographer extraordinaire Anthony Murphy. It was a beautiful day and a perfect start to the excavation.

Barney McAdam turns the first sod to launch the beginning of the 2021 season at Beaubec (photo Grace McCullen).

John and Barney with co-directors Matthew and Geraldine Stout (photo Grace McCullen).

John McCullen (left) welcomes the team of nearly forty volunteers to Beaubec (photo Grace McCullen).

The work begins (photo Grace McCullen).

After the morning ceremonies were over, everyone headed out to begin the dig (Drone photo by Anthony Murphy).

Morning and evening before-and-after photos of the excavation (Drone photo by Anthony Murphy).

John McCullen on the Pearson House

As we get ready for the start of the 2021 season at Beaubec, here is a preview of John McCullen’s article on the Pearson’s of Bey More. John, historian and our affable host, hopes to place this article in the next issue of the Journal of the Old Drogheda Society. The foundations of the Pearson House can still be seen to the north-east of the grange. The avenue to this mansion cut through the medieval farm.

Green Light for Season 3!

The third and final season of excavations at Beaubec has just received the go-ahead from our principal funders FBD Trust and the Kilsharvan Community Council. This year’s dig will begin on Monday, 5 July 2021 and continue for four weeks (excepting weekends), concluding on Friday 30 July 2021. We dig from 9 to 5. The main theatre of operations will be the long agricultural building whose extent was established in Seasons 1 and 2. The success of the last two seasons was only possible because of the enthusiasm of the numerous volunteers who worked at Beaubec. Please join us again in 2021. Contact matthew.stout@dcu.ie

Dating discovery in Irish Independent

Louise Walsh, Drogheda journalist and mother of excavation stalwart Comhall Ferriter, published a piece on our Late Neolithic date in the Irish Independent of 30 March 2021. We thank Louise for her continuing interest in our excavation.

https://m.independent.ie/irish-news/news/bru-na-boinne-links-to-site-where-medieval-monks-made-bread-40254629.html

Late Neolithic Pit Circle, It’s official!

Readers of this blog will know that the Beaubec Excavations team were recently awarded a Radio Carbon date from the RIA/QUB (see 4 December 2020). The result is just in, the envelope please: the pit circle dates to 2456–2208BC! We can now confirm that there is a Late Neolithic horizon at Beaubec uniting this part of the Boyne Valley with those monuments found in the summer of discoveries in 2018 and similar Neolithic circles found in Laytown/Bettystown during the Celtic Tiger years.

This exciting news has just arrived and we thank everyone in the 14CHRONO Centre for their hard work during these difficult times.

The calibration curve for the Beaubec pit KF3

Plans and sections of pits comprising a small portion of the Beaubec Pit Circle now dated to c.2333BC

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is riaqub-1.jpg
The Chrono Centre | Radiocarbon Dating & Isotope Analysis | QUB, Belfast

Our thanks to the Royal Irish Academy and Queen’s University Belfast for the award of this C14 date.

Creedon’s Atlas of Ireland Comes to Beaubec

John Creedon came to Beaubec last July and the programme RTÉ made that day aired on Sunday, 14 March 2021 at 6:30 PM. You can now see it on the RTE player. The entire series is well worth a watch, but the segment on Beaubec is in the second episode at 9:00 minutes, enjoy!

https://www.rte.ie/player/series/creedon-s-atlas-of-ireland/SI0000005960?epguid=IH000402197

Filming last July on Creedon’s Atlas of Ireland (photo: Mick Mongey).

John Creedon discusses the upcoming series with Damien O’Reilly on CountryWide from 28:00. Co-Director of the Beaubec excavations, Geraldine Stout, is on the same show at 33:00.

Archaeology Ireland report on plague pot discovery

This issue of Archaeology Ireland features a five page account of the Beaubec excavations. The magazine’s editor, Sharon Greene writes: ‘Geraldine and Matthew Stout’s article on their excavations at the medieval grange of Beaubec, Co. Meath, also reals changes in the past and present. They managed to excavate this summer despite all the new health and safety measures of social distancing, mask wearing and additional sanitising, and they share here their interesting discoveries—not least of which was a pottery vessel potentially associated with a much earlier pandemic. Thinking of the devastating effects of the Black Death on the Irish population in the fourteenth century is enough to make one very thankful for the medical advances that have been made since.’

Archaeology Ireland

A subscription to Archaeology Ireland makes a perfect Christmas gift!

It’s a date (or it soon will be)

Every year the Royal Irish Academy in association with Queen’s University Belfast offers radiocarbon dating for up to twelve applicants to be used for the purposes of archaeological research in Ireland. We are thrilled to announce that Beaubec excavations has won one of these awards and will use it to date the charcoal layer at the base of the pit in Cutting K. This pit may be part of a Late Neolithic pit circle. Getting this award will tell us, one way or another, if there there is a Late Neolithic horizon at Beaubec.

Tom and Penny sample the burnt material from the pit in Cutting K.