Brendan O’Neill – Assistant Director for the Centre For Experimental Archaeology and Material Culture (2013-Present)

Brendan is a current Irish Research Council, Government of Ireland, funded PhD scholar undertaking research into Irish early medieval craft and industrial practices. Titled ‘Forged in Fire’, this four-year project is re-examining the archaeological traces of fire based activities to draw out yet more data and gain a better understanding of their implications.

He has been involved in experimental archaeology and practical projects for over six years, examining subjects such as flaked and ground stone tools, ceramic production (including ancient figurine manufacture), metal smelting, non-ferrous metal casting, ferrous metal working, hide tanning, and house construction. Currently, Brendan is working on the North Roe Felsite Project, Shetland (UCD, National Geographic), East Cretan Peak Sanctuary Project (UCD, Trinity College Dublin) and the Early Medieval and Vikings Houses Project (UCD Seed Funding, Dublin City County Council).

Over the past four years Brendan has also organised and run an extensive list of outreach programmes, allowing the public to directly engage with archaeologists from the research and contract sectors. These include events for Reliqua Archaeological Services, Dublin City County Council, Fingal County Council, Carlow Historical Society, National Museum of Ireland, Copper Coast Geopark, IAI (Archaeofest), SPARC UCD (outreach initiative), Odaios Foods (Corporate Event) among others.  

Brendan was also the Conference Secretary for 2015’s annual Experimental Archaeology Conference (EAC9) held in UCD’s O’Brien Institute and the Centre for Experimental Archaeology and Material Culture. During this, Brendan was responsible for the organisation of the event, gathering papers, selecting committees, arranging events, demonstrations and timetables, ensuring delegates were properly informed and arranging catering, venues and conference literature. This was the largest EAC gathering to date with 200 delegates from some 28 countries in attendance.

Together with Professor Aidan O’Sullivan, Brendan has designed, delivered and taught on two experimental archaeology modules run by the School of Archaeology; Introduction to Experimental Archaeology and Material Culture (Level 3) and Intermediate Experimental Archaeology and Material Culture (Level 4). Using UCD’s woodland campus in Belfield Dublin and the Centre for Experimental Archaeology as the backdrop for these classes working with materials, ancient technologies and experimental methodologies are thought through these immersive programmes in both thought lectures and intensive week long field schools. Brendan is involved in all aspects of planning, teaching and assessment during these modules, as well as personally mentoring a variety of experimental projects throughout the academic year.

As assistant director for the Centre Brendan has responsibility for co-designing the strategy of the Centre for Experimental Archaeology and Material Culture and ensuring that it is implemented in line with best practice, as well as material procurement, space management and infrastructural oversight.