Skip to main content
Read page text

Editorial What is it about archaeology that appeals to people so much? The more I ponder this question, the more convinced I am that it is to do with the fact that it gives us the gift of proximity. Standing in the ruins of an abbey, however altered by time, you can imagine that you are occupying the same space as your ancestors or key historical figures. One of the reasons why the winter solstice phenomenon at Newgrange continues to excite is the sense of connection with the people who constructed the tomb and originally experienced the event so long ago.

Even seeing a monument standing in a modern field or among more recent buildings in an urban setting acts as a reminder of the past—that we are living where others lived before us and that we are part of a continuum.

That proximity can be something very tactile, too. All archaeologists are asked at some stage about their best or most memorable find. The moment that comes to my mind is about ten past nine on a Monday morning in the early days of what became known as the ‘Celtic Tiger’ era. I was working on a bypass near the east coast. We had just removed the tarpaulin that had protected the site over the weekend and settled down on our kneelers to start trowelling. I was removing a charcoal-rich layer but I stopped after a single stroke of my trowel. It had revealed a beautifully formed, hollow-based flint arrowhead, pink

Winter 2019 Volume 33 No. 4 Issue No. 130

against the dark soil. It was so unexpected that I was speechless. I picked it up and placed it in the palm of my hand, immediately wondering about the unknown person who had last seen it and held it millennia earlier.

Of course, we don’t have to touch things or be their finder to feel that sense of wonder. Even observing an artefact in a glass case or in a publication can provide us with a similar sense of closeness and connection.

So perhaps this feeling of proximity is why we are fascinated by what people made, used and touched and the traces they left behind. Whether it is the graffiti from Daniel O’Connell’s summer house or prehistoric pottery, who can look at these things and not find themselves trying to imagine the person or people who created them in the past?


PATRONS OF ARCHAEOLOGY IRELAND Isabel Bennett, Patrick V. Brown, James Butler, Pauline Coakley, John M. Coles, Brendan Connors, John Cruse, George Cunningham, Siobhán de hÓir, Richard Gem, Claire Gogarty, Christine Grant, Eoin Grogan, Amy Harris, Elizabeth Heckett, Patricia Kennedy, Heather King, Seán Kirwan, Pamela Lewis, Don Lydon, Ian Magee, Jeremy Milln, Michael Moore, Harold Mytum, David M. Nolan, Micheal Ó Ciosáin, Gerry O'Leary, Celie O'Rahilly, Emer O'Sullivan, Eoin O'Connor, Bruce Proudfoot, Brian Scane, Christian Schaffalitzky, Conor Skehan, David Sweetman, Miriam Tarbett, Máirin Uí Scolaidhe, John Waddell and Patrick Wallace.

Archaeology Ireland Winter 2019

EDITORIAL TEAM Sharon Greene (Editor) ( Franc Myles (News editor) ( Gabriel Cooney, Tom Condit, Emer Condit (copy-editor), Nicholas Maxwell, Una MacConville, Brian Williams, Chris Corlett, Michael Connolly, Aidan O’Sullivan.


PRODUCTION Niamh Power, Nick Maxwell

ADVERTISING Una MacConville (


TYPESETTING AND LAYOUT © Wordwell Ltd Cover design: Ger Garland

PRINTERS Turners, Longford

PUBLISHERS Wordwell Ltd, Unit 9, 78 Furze Road, Sandyford Industrial Estate, Dublin 18. Tel: 01-2933568 Email: SUBSCRIPTION RATES For rates see page 59.


My Bookmarks

    Skip to main content