Friday, 18 March 2016

Final Workshops

Tuesday was the last day of our outreach workshops for The Ulster Scots Archaeological Services Project. It has been a great couple of months meeting a fantastic and diverse group of participants. We have met with 12 groups and over 360 people in the past four months and shared what we know about the archaeology of the Plantation.

Gavin Donaghy talking to the residents of Clifton House, Hopewell Avenue.

This week we visited two residential homes, Clifton House on Hopewell Avenue and Clifton House on North Queen Street. We had very lively discussions about both the artefacts and the history surrounding them and it was great to hear the groups reminisce about their own experiences with cultural change over the past century.

Residents of Clifton House, North Queen Street examining some artefacts.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank Mary and Geraldine Scullion for inviting us  and for taking part in our workshops. We had a great time with both groups and got lots of fantastic questions and feedback. 

We would also like to thank all of the groups that took part in the outreach programme. We had a brilliant response from everyone involved and enjoyed sharing what we know with everyone. This is the end of our workshops programme but please keep your eyes peeled for more exciting news about Ulster Scots Archaeology.

Friday, 29 January 2016

Workshops in Carrickfergus

We brought our Plantation Workshops to Carrickfergus Museum last week and what better place to have them than in a museum surrounded by artefacts from the period? We held six workshops at the museum and invited both primary and post primary schools to attend. We got a great response from the local schools and the workshops filled up quickly!

Children From Carrickfergus Model PS look at Plantation period maps.

We would like to thank all of the schools for taking part in the workshops. Everyone was very enthusiastic and eager to learn all they could about the archaeology of the Plantation. The children particularly enjoyed the part where they got to interact and interpret artefacts uncovered during our  excavations at Monea and Derrywoone Castles. 

Children from Carrickfergus College get to grips with the artefacts.

The museum worked wonderfully as the venue for these workshops. Each group was taken on a tour of the museum itself where they learned about the history of the town during the 17th century. There were lots of questions about the artefacts on display and the town itself from every group that came along. We would particularly like to thank Shirin Murphy, Museum Officer for Mid and East Antrim Borough Council, and the staff from the museum for all of their help running the workshops.

Children from St Nicolas' primary learn about the castle during the Plantation.

We had a great time with all of the fantastic schools that came to visit us. And we're still not finished so stay tuned! 

Friday, 15 January 2016

New Year New Workshops

Happy New Year!

We have hit the ground running this year starting it off by continuing our outreach workshops. Our first workshop was at Eglinton Presbyterian Church with their Senior Citizens group. We had a great afternoon exploring the Plantation history of Belfast and showing off the artefacts we'd uncovered during our three excavations.

Eglinton Senior Citizens examining the artefacts.

We'd like to thank Vera Hardy for inviting us along and to the group for taking part and making it so enjoyable. 

The ladies inspecting a jug handle.

Next on the list were two primary schools, Our lady Of Lourdes on the Antrim road and Malvern Primary School off the lower Shankill Road. Both schools  really engaged with the workshops, asking fantastic insightful questions and had great fun interacting with the artefacts we brought along to show them.

Children of Malvern Primary School getting their hands on history.

Gavin Donaghy (IAC) with the children of Our Lady of Lourdes Primary School discussing 17th century artefacts

We'd like to thank both schools for inviting us to come along and teach the children about the history of the Plantation. In particular, we would like to thank the principal of Our Lady of Lourdes Primary School, Mr Merrick, and the acting principal of Malvern Primary School, Ms Barber, for all of their help.

We'll be continuing our workshops in North Belfast and Carrickfergus for the rest of this month, so stay tuned for more updates.

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Back in Business!

It’s been a while since our last post but rest assured we have not been idle!

In between writing up the excavation reports for Monea and Derrywoone, we have been developing an education pack for Key Stages 2 & 3 and compiling a general reader booklet. The education pack is based around the three excavations that we have undertaken and is full of exciting exercises designed to stimulate discussion about the Plantation period.

Front cover of the Education Pack

The general reader booklet is a short summary of the excavations that have taken place at Servants Hill, Derrywoone Castle and Monea Castle. Both the education pack and general reader text will be available to download from the Dept of Culture, Arts and Leisure website in due course.

Front cover of the General Reader text

Due to the overwhelming success of our excavation open days and the positive feedback from our school visits and volunteers, we have also developed a series of workshops called ‘Hands on History’, which are aimed at community groups who wouldn’t necessarily get the opportunity to engage with their local heritage. These workshops will be delivered in North Belfast and Carrickfergus. 

The first event was held on Dec 15th at Art Ability on Agnes St, Belfast with groups from Fort William and Falls Road. We used some of the artefacts recovered from the Derrywoone and Monea excavations to describe how people during the Plantation might have lived and what sort of materials they used to construct their houses. We also used art to further interpret the artefacts. 

Launching the 'Hands on History' workshops at Art Ability with Brian McTeggart (DCAL)
and William Humphrey MLA (centre).

We would like to thank Gary Linton from Art Ability for inviting us to hold the workshop at their facility and Brian McTeggart (DCAL) and William Humphrey MLA for launching the workshops.

Gavin Donaghy (IAC) explains how the Raven maps have helped us to
discover new archaeological sites during this project.

Our next workshop will be in early January so stay tuned!

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.