August 2013

Thanks, UCD School of Archaeology and Marie Curie IEF

For the last two years I have been working at the School of Archaeology, University College Dublin. Rob Sands and I wrote a successful appliction to the European Union Marie Curie IEF programme. I spent my time at UCD immersed in an extensive analysis of wood from a complex of medieval fishweirs on the Fergus Estuary, Co Clare.


Tree-ring studies

There are around 25 fishweirs preserved at a c. 800m stretch of the Fergus River channel at tidal low water. Radiocarbon datings have shown that the fisheries here have taken place from the 13the to 15the centuries. They are gradually being exposed through erosion from the river and tides, but they are, through the same processes also gradually dissappearing, as the channel migrates. The material is a huge challenge for chronological studies because the structures were built using fencing, using very short-lives wood. I have in this project carried out tree-ring studies of the material, to try to determine the relative chronology of two of the structures, Boarland Rock 1 and 2. Analysis of 550 samples from the upright posts entailed identification of the wood used and measurement of the tree-rings and then visually matching the tree-ring patterns with each other. In spite of the very short-lived trees in the material groupings of posts could be identified, that had the same felling year, and comparing between these groups allow me to suggest that the weirs were repaired or re-built annually. The results of this time-consuming work allow us to gain insight into the duration of the structures and the rate of migration of the original river channel on which they were built. A range of publications are on the way, stemming from this project, and as soon as they're out I'll be sure to advertise the fact.

In the meantime, thanks Rob, Aidan and Conor for looking after me, there in UCD. 

link to project page