Interactive Digs

August 24, 2018

Achill Island 2018: Week 12

Week 12 started with a number of exciting finds. On Monday morning James and Élsa uncovered a broken hand-mill or quern stone in the refuse area around the north door. Rotary hand-mills were widely used in Ireland from the late prehistoric period onwards. In west Mayo they are attested in the post-medieval period where they were used to grind cereals such as oats and rye to make bread, oatcakes, meal or poitín. Our millstone is made from local schist and has rough circular decoration pecked around its central hole. Over at the midden Cari and her team found a beautiful clear glass bead. Glass beads are known in Ireland since the Iron Age, but the morphology of this example suggests a post-medieval date.

In both trenches we continue to work down through the layers, retrieving significant quantities of animal bone and marine shell. Closer inspection of the walls of Building 3 has revealed that they are clay-bonded, with a sticky mixture of clay used as mortar. There are tentative traces of clay flooring present around the base of the walls where we have exposed them. We have uncovered a small hearth in the north-west corner of the building but we’re still expecting to find another larger hearth towards the centre of the floor.

For our field trip on Wednesday we went to Keem Bay. We explored the archaeology of the rundale settlement and Boycott’s house before hiking up to Moyteogue Head and back down to the beach for a dip in the Atlantic Ocean.