Thursday, 12 June 2014

Castle Drawings

As promised in earlier posts here are a select few drawings by some of the many school children who visited Monea castle.. Fantastic work!

Wednesday, 4 June 2014


We are now in the last week of the dig. The bulk of the work this week will entail finishing up excavation and recording and then backfilling all the cuttings. Although we didn't find any clear structural evidence of buildings around the perimeter of the castle we did identify some interesting landscaping features, also the finds such as the musket balls and clay pipes also tell their own story of life in and around the castle in the early-mid 17th century.
Tony backfilling Cutting 4
The highlight of the dig was definitely the school visits which were hugely enjoyable for the crew while we also have some very positive feedback from the school children and teachers. One of the tasks undertaken by the pupils was to draw/interpret aspects of the castle and we hope to put up a few of the best drawings in the next blog post..

Thursday, 29 May 2014

Wednesday school visit

Wednesday, the sun was out and we had a great visit from St Aidan’s High school, Derrylin.
Pupils from St Aidans on the site tour
The latrine chute was a big hit, as always, but for some reason everyone wants to stick their heads up it. Not something I would fancy!
Good thing this toilet isn't in use any more
Christina gave her regular talk at the dovecote it’s all about ‘feathers, flesh and faeces’ apparently.
Christina at the dovecote.
One of the school children brought along his ‘toy’ smoking pipe – good comparison here between it and our 17th-century clay pipe.
Thats not a pipe - this is a pipe!
The whole gang.

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Sunshine and unexpected finds

Seemed like the summer had finally arrived today. The sun was out in force at Monea.
Monea in the sunshine 
We had an unexpected discovery today. Tony found what looks like a stone axe in a charcoal-rich layer under rubble in Cutting 6. This was found right beside a curious looking stone which has a groove in its side into which the axe actually fits quite well. We cant work this one out..
Tony and his axe.
This is where it was found.
And it fits into the groove!
Meanwhile Camilla is digging away in Cutting 7 at the latrine chute. There seems to be a small drain here coming away from the base of the chute but this is heading towards a big slab of possible bedrock? It will all become clearer when the rest of the drain is taken out - tomorrow..
Cutting 7 and the latrine chute at the east end of the castle.
We opened a Cutting (Cutting 8) at the north-eastern corner tower of the bawn to see if this (angular) tower was once rounded (as is suggested in Jope's plan of the castle in 1951 - see first Monea blog post). We have just exposed some very nice stone at the base of this Cutting. Need to have a think about this one..
Cutting 8
More anon...


Monday, 26 May 2014

Open Day

We had our Monea open day on Saturday past and it was a great success. We had over 150 visitors on the day and thankfully the rain stayed away.

Tony the blacksmith showing the visitors his smithy..

We arranged tours of the castle and Cuttings and the finds from the dig were on display was well. We were also joined by David, Tony and John from Living History group Claiomh ( who put on a fine display of weaponry, metalworking and leather working of the period.

David with musket and weapon display.
Visitors enjoying the living history displays.

Many of the children (and adults) were in digging too.

Christina trying to keep charge in Cutting 6..

 Thanks to everyone who visited on Saturday and made it such an enjoyable day out!!

Friday, 23 May 2014

Another busy day, and the tv were here!

Thursday was a busy day..

We were delighted to have a large group from the Clogher Historical Society for a day’s outing. The group made a day of it and brought a big picnic. Nick gave an excellent tour of the castle and some of the group went digging for the afternoon!

Nick giving a guided tour of the castle

George joined Camilla in the new Cutting 7 at the base of the latrine chute – first find was a coin (modern) - it looks like someone literally ‘spent a penny’ here. Lots of digging left in this one and George promises to be back for more!

We also had a film crew on site from Tern TV who are filming a new monthly magazine series called The Gaitherin which will be on BBC in a few weeks (we will keep you posted).

George and Camilla in Cutting 7 with the film crew

Site director Fintan Walsh, project leader Nick Brannon, Camilla Brannstrom and George Knight from the Clogher Historical Society were interviewed and the crew got lots of great shots of the castle and the ongoing excavations.. Twas a great day, and the sun, on cue, popped out for a while too.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank the Clogher Historical Society for joining us on Thursday and also for volunteering in the Cuttings over the last few weeks. You can find out about all the great work that this society does at

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Week Three continues....

Another great school visit today. This is our 6th school visit and thus far more than 170 school children have visited the site already with more to come! 

School visit – the finds table
Bingo! I found some pottery

The dungeon in the castle is getting to be a big attraction for the visits and while everyone loves the digging and sieving at Cutting 6 the drawing tasks are also proving increasingly popular – we might post a few of the best drawings at the end of the dig…

Still digging away in the other trenches and it is clear now that we have a stone-filled drain or ditch in Cutting 4.

Cordoning off Camilla in Cutting 4 with hazard tape,
in retrospect, seems a bit harsh.
Ditch/drain in Cutting 4

Unfortunately there is nothing in this that we can use to date it. Camilla is moving on to more interesting things tomorrow – a cutting at the bottom of the latrine chute! Who knows what she might find, actually lets not go there.....