Glendalough Research and Teaching Project

Principal Investigators:
Dr Graeme Warren
Conor McDermott

In 2009 the UCD School of Archaeology initiated a broad research and teaching project focusing on the Glendalough Valley, Co. Wicklow with a specific initial focus on the landscapes in the Upper Valley (Lugduff townland). Glendalough is an iconic Irish archaeological landscape: a spectacular monastic complex set in a stunning mountain landscape. The monastery was founded by St Kevin, and became one of the major religious houses of early Ireland. It is currently managed by the Office of Public Works and set within the wider context of the Wicklow Mountains National Park The aim of this project is to integrate teaching and research in furthering our understanding of this landscape, which, despite its iconic status, has seen comparatively little recent archaeological fieldwork. This is especially unfortunate given key management challenges associated with such an important and popular landscape. This website provides an overview of results to date, links to newsletters and reports and news updates

Funded By: 
Office of Public Works (OPW)National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS)Wicklow County Council & The Heritage Council

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From 2009 to 2013 our work mainly focussed on the Upper Lake, and demonstrated considerable complexity to the evolution of landscape in this area. Two centuries of antiquarian, tourist, agricultural and industrial pressures have had very significant, and poorly understood, impact on the survival and current condition of archaeological features. For example, in 2011 we excavated stone cairns that supported simple Latin crosses carved in mica-schist. Our excavations demonstrated that, far from being original leachts, as was sometimes speculated, the cairns were of mid-Twentieth century date. In 2012-2013 during excavations at the caher (SMR: WI023-025----) we identified a large and early medieval ditch associated with the monument which has no surface expression. In 2009 we excavated charcoal production platforms to the south of the Lake (09E0380; SMR: WI023-029002-003-004-) and have been able to date this industry and demonstrate its impact on local woodlands (Warren et al. 2012). Our results are therefore demonstrating the extent to which modern archaeological investigation can transform our understanding of the Glendalough landscape.

In 2011–2012 we undertook the first geophysical survey in the surrounds of the main monastic complex. This has demonstrated the survival of a range of significant archaeological features, including possible industrial areas (kilns), the probable main monastic enclosure, rectangular buildings and a range of other features. This includes a ditched enclosure, which from its shape and size may represent early enclosing of the monastry enclosure. These were the focus of excavation in 2014, which demonstrated the presence of a very substantial ditch associated with an internal timber structure.

Technical Reports

2010 Excavations: McDermott C, Warren GM, Ciuchini P, Colfer N (2011) Archaeological excavations at Lugduff Townland, Upper Lake, Glendalough, Co. Wicklow 2010 : stratigraphical report. UCD School of Archaeology Report.http://hdl.handle.net/10197/4484

2011 Excavations: McDermott C, Warren GM, Ciuchini P, Rice K (2012) Archaeological excavations at Lugduff Townland, Upper Lake, Glendalough, Co. Wicklow 2011: stratigraphical report. UCD School of Archaeology Report.http://hdl.handle.net/10197/4483

2012 Excavations: McDermott C, Warren GM, Carlin N, Rice K (2013) Archaeological excavations at Lugduff Townland, Upper Lake, Glendalough, Co. Wicklow 2012: stratigraphical report. UCD School of Archaeology Report.http://hdl.handle.net/10197/4506

2013 Excavations: Seaver M, McDermott C, Warren GM, Kelly N (2014) Archaeological Excavations at Lugduff Townland, Upper Lake, Glendalough, Co. Wicklow 2013. UCD School of Archaeology Report. DOI Pending

2014 Excavations: McDermott C, Ní Lionáin C & Warren, G (2014) Archaeological Excavations at Trench 10, Pattern Bank, Seven Churches Townland, Glendalough, Co. Wicklow 2014: Stratigraphical Report. UCD School of Archaeology Report. DOI Pending

Newsletters

McDermott C, Warren GM, O'Donnell L (2012) Charcoal Production at Glendalough, Co. Wicklow. . Glendalough Valley Archaeology Project Newsletter 1, UCD School of Archaeology, http://hdl.handle.net/10197/4497

Warren GM, McDermott C (2012) Excavations at the Upper Lake, Glendalough, Co. Wicklow. Glendalough Valley Archaeology Project Newsletter 2, UCD School of Archaeology, http://hdl.handle.net/10197/4491

Elliott I, McDermott C, Warren GM (2014) Geophysical Survey at Glendalough Monastic Site, Co. Wicklow. Glendalough Valley Archaeology Project Newsletter 3, UCD School of Archaeology, http://hdl.handle.net/10197/5781

Warren, G, McDermott, C & Elliot, I (2012) Geophysical Survey at the Upper Lake, Glendalough, Co. Wicklow. Glendalough Valley Archaeology Project Newsletter 4, UCD School of Archaeology.

Academic Publications

Warren G, McDermott C, O'Donnell L & Sands R (2012 Recent Excavations of Charcoal Production Platforms in the Glendalough Valley, Co. Wicklow. Journal of Irish Archaeology XXI, 85-112.