Sunday, April 03, 2016

New excavation planned on Dun Ailinne

An archaeological excavation is to take place this June at Dun Ailinne for the first time since the early 1970s, writes Brian Byrne.

It's to be a 'training excavation' involving the Irish Archaeological Field School in collaboration with Dr Susan Johnston of the Department of Anthropology in Columbia University and Professor Pam Crabtree of New York University.

Dr Johnston is very familiar with Dun Ailinne, as she was the editor of the final report on the excavations carried out by Professor Bernard Wailes on the hill site between 1968-1975.

And since 2006 she has conducted a number of remote sensing surveys on the site, which is arguably just as important as the other 'royal' sites such as Tara and and Navan Fort.

Dr Johnston believes that only about five percent of Dun Ailinne has been properly excavated. She told the Diary that the goal of the June excavation is to 'follow up on a few things found' in the remote sensing surveys, which involved measurements of electrical resistance and magnetic 'signatures' to build up a picture of structure remains such as ditches and walls buried under the ground.

"I'm excited at the prospect of the excavation, it has been a long time coming. It won't be on the scale that it was in the 1960s, because that kind of money is hard to come by these days. But it's a start, and if it all works out, I'm hoping we can continue it in the future."

Dr Johnston says that they would welcome any local volunteer helpers who are interested in helping out at the excavations in June. She also hopes to schedule a talk in the Kilcullen Heritage Centre about what they find.

Dr Wailes died in 2012, but he previously returned to Kilcullen for the dedication of the Dun Ailinne Interpretive Park in July 2008. He's pictured above on Dun Ailinne hill itself, talking about the importance of the site. The Irish launch of the final report was held on the same occasion.

The Diary's coverage of Dun Ailinne since 2005 is available here.