Local man pushing the magnetometer, and (inset) a replica pot

A BALDOYLE man who discovered medieval pottery in his back garden is leading a community initiative to uncover an ancient monument believed to be buried beneath the Seagrange estate.
Paul Duffy, who grew up on Seagrange Road, has worked as an archaeologist for over eight years at sites across Ireland and Australia, but the idea to look closer to home only struck recently when he stumbled upon an obscure reference while researching at the library.
“I was consulting a register of archaeological sites in Ireland when I happened to see a monument listed in Baldoyle. I was surprised by this, as despite being very familiar with the area, it wasn’t something that I’d ever heard of,” he explained to the Gazette.
Further research revealed a black and white aerial photograph taken in 1972, when most of Baldoyle was farmland, in which the marks of a rectangular enclosure measuring over an acre are clearly visible. Using satellite mapping, Paul was able to trace its location and found that ancient history was literally on his doorstep. It was then that the seeds of the Grass Roots Archaeology project were planted.
“The borders of the enclosure seemed to surround several houses in the Seagrange Road area, one of which was my family home. As luck would have it some work was being done in the garden, so I took the opportunity to look through the disturbed soil and found small fragments of pottery that date from the 12th to 13th century. Along with the size and location of the enclosure, it would suggest that this monument may be a medieval moated site. This could have been the fortified dwelling of a Norman baron, or a military outpost, or connected to a religious order” says Paul, who suspects that more clues can be found through excavations in the area.
Over the Easter  weekend a group of volunteers conducted a Magnetometry survey of the area using equipment supplied by Rubicon Heritage. This type of survey measures magnetic fluctuations in the ground to build up an image of structures beneath the topsoil.
Paul hopes to have data back on the scan soon, and will be organising more community projects based around the monument in the coming months. “I see it as a great way for people to learn about archaeology, as well as their own history,” he says, and undoubtedly it will add to the rich history already found in the Malahide, Portmarnock, and Baldoyle area.
Paul hopes that with the support of the council, the Royal Irish Academy, and the surrounding community,  he will be able to investigate the monument through the course of the summer.
To find out more or to get involved, log on to www.grassrootsarchaeology.ie.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Hi,

    As two mature archaeology students with experience of excavations at Glendalough and Orkney, we would like to volunteer our services. We graduated in 2011 and still retain our interest in archaeology, particularly when it is practically on our own doorstep.

    Best of luck with the work.

    Regards,

    Eileen O’Donovan and Margaret Graydon.

  2. Hi Paul,

    While visiting her sister in Seagrange Estate, Baldoyle, Margaret Graydon was facinated by the work she saw and was very excited at the prospect of the discovery of a major archaeological site in North County Dublin. We are aware of the extent of the lands owned by the monks of St. Mary’s Abbey. Margaret and I both graduated in Archaeology in 2011 and as mentioned in my previous e.mail, we would be happy to offer our services in any capacity.

    We would like to visit the site some time in the near future and look forward to seeing the work progress.

    Regards,
    Eileen O’Donovan.

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