Experimental Archaeology at its finest
My name is Anne-Maire Denvir and I am an archaeologist from Belfast, N.Ireland. This is the online version of my undergraduate thesis. It focuses on prehistoric monuments named 'fulachta fiadh' or 'burnt mounds'
If you haven't got time to browse through the whole site I suggest you go straight to the results and concluding thoughts section as all my research and findings are there in a condensed form.
Fulachta fiadh were an integral part of the prehistoric landscape in Ireland, they provide significant evidence of activity in areas with little artifact deposition. They also form the biggest number of a single prehistoric monument in Ireland and over the years have generated much interest in the archaeological world. Yet the purpose of fulachta fiadh is still unclear even though many major studies have been undertaken on them.
Nearly 50 years ago some experimental archaeology was conducted to support a theory that fulachta fiadh were cooking sites (O’Kelly, 1954). This particular experiment proved very successful but, many people still refused to accept that the sole purpose of a fulacht fian was to cook. In 1987 it was argued that fulachta fiadh were used as bathing sites similar in a sense to a Roman or Turkish bath (Barfield and Hodder, 1987).
In 1991 some observations were published highlighting the fact that fulachta fiadh are exceedingly suitable for textile production (Jeffery, 1991). More recently in East Anglian Fens, Jo Roberts has found evidence that in England at least fulachta fiadh have been used as burial sites and may have had some ritual purpose. She uncovered a “burnt mound with a crouched inhumation?"(Roberts, 1998). At this point, before I go onto discuss these arguments any further, it is important to give a general overview to the monument type known as fulachta fiadh. So start at the beginning and go to the "what are fulachta fiadh" link below.
The washing experiment | The dyeing experiment | The fulling experiment | Results and concluding thoughts |
Fulachta Fia or Fulachtai?
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Other useful and interesting links
Clothing of the ancient Celts -When you watch a Hollywood film about medieval or pre-modern Europe, chances are the people are clothed in drab clothes, crudely woven and sewn. Actually, textiles in ancient times were fairly advanced. It doesn't make any sense that a culture with the fine metalworking techniques seen in torques and other surviving artifacts would be running around in rags and tatters, yet this is the common perception of what people wore. This site proves otherwise.
A social history of Ireland -The online version of the book "A SMALLER SOCIAL HISTORY of ANCIENT IRELAND" which discusses The Government, Military System, and Law ; Religion, Learning, and Art ; Trades, Industries, and Commerce ;Manners, Customs, and Domestic Life, of the Ancient Irish People BY P.W. JOYCE, M.A., LL.D., T.C.D.; M.R.I.A.
The art and science of dyeing This site gives a history of natural dyes, a natural dye colour chart and general dyeing instructions. It is an excellent site if you fancy giving home dyeing a go or if you just want to know a bit more about dyeing.