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Chapple, R. M. 2013 Review: Archaeology Ireland 26.3 (Issue 101). Blogspot Post

Chapple, R. M. 2013 Review: Archaeology Ireland 26.3 (Issue 101). Blogspot Post

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Published by Robert M Chapple
Chapple, R. M. 2013 Review: Archaeology Ireland 26.3 (Issue 101). Blogspot Post
Chapple, R. M. 2013 Review: Archaeology Ireland 26.3 (Issue 101). Blogspot Post

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Published by: Robert M Chapple on Sep 27, 2013
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Review: Archaeology Ireland 26.3 (Issue 101)
Originally posted online on 24 January 2013 at rmchapple.blogspot.com(
) 
 Preface
 
 At the start of the year I set myself a personal target of providing in-depthreviews of four consecutive issues of 
Archaeology Ireland
 for this blog. While
this is the third in the series, I’m running quite slow as the fourth edition for
2012 (No. 102) is already in the shops. Nonetheless, I hope readers enjoythis review and consider going out and buying their own copies, or betterstill, getting a regular subscription! Talk to the good people at Wordwell  Books here and tell them I sent you!
 
In 'A font of majuscule proportions at Tallaght', Chris Corlett reports onpossibly the largest font in Ireland. It is carved from a large granite boulder,1.65m x 1.6m x 0.6m thick and, Corlett estimates that it is approximately sixtimes bigger than the average Medieval font. He argues that the font was notintended to be placed inside a church, but to stand outside in the open air -though it may have been part of a purpose-built baptistery. Whilerecognising the difficulties of dating the font on the basis of size alone, hedoes raise the possibility that it was created by theCéili Dé (orCuldees) during the eighth or ninth centuries and may thus relate to theirown ideas about baptism, possibly requiring a remarkably large receptacle. Whatever the origin of the piece, Corlett is to be (once again) credited for bringing such an interesting and unusual item to wider public notice. EoinBairéad, in his 27th installment of 'News from the Net' provides his usual and
 
 very useful roundup of interesting and entertaining news items. AmongBairéad's haul is a note on a 'fifteen-year-old paper, still relevant' by T. G.Fewer:The archaeology of the Great Famine: time for a beginning?  which  was recently published on this blog. Also from here is the mention of theplight of theDrumclay/Cherrymount crannog in Co. Fermanagh and the shameful treatment of some of the archaeologists who, when all otheravenues were exhausted, were brave enough to come forward as 'whistle blowers'. Eoin also mentions the Late Iron Age and 'Roman' Ireland (LIARI) conference at TCD, which partnered with this blog to raise awareness. WhileI couldn't make it there in person, I believe it was a big success and look forward to reading more about the research papers presented there. I realisethat it's unfair to confine myself to mentioning references to this blog in thepaper, so I commend the reader to Eoin's very useful collection of links to all of the news items.Pat Wallace provides a moving obituary to Etienne Rynne (1932-2012) "Oneof the great characters of Irish archaeology". Etienne was my Head of Department for my BA at UCG. To say that he and I had, at times, atempestuous relationship would be an understatement. In the heat of argument he shouted abuse at me that no Prof. should ever say to anundergraduate ... then again, I returned abuse that no undergraduate shouldever inflict on their Prof. I suppose that made us even. Although we fought, we always made it up - mostly to the detriment of our respective livers. Whatever about the archaeology Etienne taught me, I will forever rememberhim as the man who introduced me to both Kir Royale and hot port. For all his fuss and bluster, he was a remarkably generous tutor, giving freely of histime, library and encyclopedic knowledge. I will remember him with greatfondness and huge thanks. I say goodbye to not just my old Prof., but to agood friend.The next paper, 'Cherrymount Crannog, Fermanagh' is by me! In it I outlinethe circumstances and timescale behind the discovery and investigation of the Early Christian crannog in the townland of Drumclay and why a public campaign was necessary to ensure that it properly resourced and recorded.Many readers will be aware that it was as a result of contact made by amember of the site crew that prompted a post on this blog that helped bring attention to the site. As is my usual wont, I have uploaded a PDF version of the paper to my Academia.edu site:here.Since the publication of the  Archaeology Ireland article Matthew Seaver, Jean O'Dowd and I co-authoreda paper delivered to the IAI conference in Belfast. A version of that paper isalso available on this blog: here.  Stephen Davis, David Strange-Walker, and Marcus Abbott present theresults of 'Laser scanning at Brú na Bóinne', specifically the great Neolithicpassage tombs at Knowth and Dowth, Co. Meath. The project had the aims
 
of creating a baseline record of the current position of all stones within thetombs; to record a large proportion of the megalithic artwork in high-resolution 3D; and to allow the creation of accurate computer models of thesites - both internally and externally. While the authors state that the post-processing of the vast amount of collected data is still ongoing, some initialresults are available. These include incredibly detailed sectional viewsthrough the sites, clearly demonstrating the relationships between thepassages and their mounds. The use of Polynomial Texture Mapping (PTM)allows individual decorated stones to be lit from various different angles toenhance the level of detail that can be recorded. In the cases of Knowth andDowth, the interiors are difficult to access for all but a few. The data collectedin this project is being made available via the Internet, so that armchairarchaeologists across the globe can explore these spaces for themselves.Ihave written before about the beauty I perceive in these types of laser scans,and the images presented here are no exception. In addition, I would direct your attention to the photographic work by Ken Williams, who accompaniedand documented the scanning[ Website | Facebook  | Blog]. His photographs in this paper amply illustrate the cramped and confined conditions in whichthe scanning took place. More generally, his archaeological photography isof the highest order. It is not just aesthetically pleasing, but it conveys a realsense of the places he photographs and makes me, at least, feel that I havelearned something more about the monuments and their settings.In 'Trapping Witches in Wicklow' Eamon P. Kelly recounts an early experience carrying out investigations on behalf of the NMI[ Website |Facebook ]in April 1976. He describes the investigation of a 19th/20th century collection of objects concealed in a blocked up oven atCoolbeg House, Co. Wicklow. The artefacts included various metal items,such as a candle-snuffer, a bolt, a cramp, and a portion of an oval hoop. Otheritems included glass, ceramics, clay pipe bowls, animal bones, and apart of apossible shoe. Unfortunately, no explanation for the collection could befound at the time and the artefacts were eventually dumped. Skip ahead toJanuary 2012 and the author was one of the speakers at a conference help by the Society for Historical Archaeology in Baltimore, USA [ Website | Facebook ]. In a session devoted to the archaeology of folk magic Kelly came to realise that the Coolbeg house material could be viably interpreted as a 'spiritual midden' where familiar objects were placed instrategic parts of a building to either deter or trap witches. He goes on toexplain that the concealment of a shoe was among the most common ways of trapping a witch. The theory was that the human scent would attract the witch in, but once in the shoe they were unable to escape as (apparently) witches are unable to move backwards! Kelly notes that while such finds arerelatively well known in Britain, there is only one example known to himfrom this island - a child's hobnail boot from the thatched roof of a house atMoneystown, Co. Wicklow. I know of one other example - when builders

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