Call to help dig up the castle’s lost history

by Gazette Reporter

A TEAM of volunteers led by community archaeologist Christine Baker began a month-long community excavation at Swords Castle recently.
Since then, there has been lots of hard work and lots of finds to wash, sort and examine.
Swords Castle: Digging History, is Fingal County Council’s first community archaeology project. It gives residents a unique opportunity to take part in a real archaeological excavation for the first time.
Working with a small team of professionals, volunteers have been digging, discovering lots of artefacts and learning how to perform such excavations.
Most findings so far are from the 19th century, but on the second day of the dig volunteers found a piece of a Medieval ridge tile.
A council spokesperson said: “The excavation programme is designed to answer specific questions which remain about the castle.
“Although Swords Castle is one of the best surviving examples of an archbishop’s residence in the country, and was an important administrative centre, there are some questions that remain unanswered.
“These include is there a graveyard underneath the castle? Were there buildings within the castle yard? How old are the different buildings in the complex?
“Through this project, we hope to answer at least some of these questions.”
They added that that the results would not only tell us more about the castle’s 800-year history, they would also inform its future development as the council implements the heritage site’s conservation plan, published in 2014.
Excavation takes place each weekday until September 11 and the council is looking for volunteers to come along and join the team. To celebrate National Heritage Week, the dig also took place on the weekend of Saturday, August 22 and Sunday, August 23.
Excavation work takes place from 10am to 4.30pm each day. Volunteers must be over 18 years old and the council asks that volunteers come along at 10am and commit to (at least) one full day.
For further information, see fingal.ie/planning-and-buildings, or go to Fingal County Council’s Facebook page.
In addition during Heritage Week, an accompanying exhibition – Swords Castle: My Castle – takes place in the chapel at Swords Castle.
The exhibition explores what the castle means to the people of Swords and runs every day up to Friday, September 4 (except for Sunday, August 30).
Swords Castle: Digging History is funded by Fingal County Council with funding support also from The Heritage Council.
The National Museum of Ireland is also a project partner and will also host conservation and archiving days later in the year in the Collections Resource Centre, Swords, which will allow participants to experience what happens to artefacts after they have been excavated.

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