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A VIKING HOUSE & GARDEN AT GLASNEVIN
Recreating the Architecture, Ecology & Experience of Dublin's Townhouses, AD 1014
A commemorative project for the 2014 Battle of Clontarf Millennium
January 15, 2013
A replica Dublin townhouse, as excavated at the Wood Quay and Fishamble Street sites, will be built at the National Botanic Gardens over the next 2 months.
The house will be surrounded by a garden exhibiting the crops and utility plants of the time.
The building and garden will be used as an education classroom for children using replica artefacts, as well as describing the processes whereby archaeology and palaeoenvironmental studies inform our knowledge of the period.
Having a publicly-accessible outdoor building of this quality in Dublin would be a highly valuable addition to history and archaeology teaching in the capital.
The aim will be to take groups of up to 20 children at a time into the Glasnevin house and talk about the archaeology of Hiberno-Norse Dublin. This will have a direct bearing on both the junior and senior cycle curriculums. The children will be able to understand the construction of houses of the time, as well as how evidence was gathered from fireplaces, floors and bedding areas, to interpret the way people lived, and then to handle replica artefacts to give a sense of exploration and a feel for what life in Viking Dublin was like.
One of the most striking features of these buildings is that they are entirely organic. The amount of raw material needed to construct such a building,
and the space required to supply these materials, is a feature of many of our sustainability focused garden tours. A large proportion of the world’s
population still live in such buildings, and the house will provide an excellent focus on sustainability and the importance of plants then and now.
UCD School of Archaeology has recently established the UCD Centre for Experimental Archaeology and Ancient Technologies. Researchers at the Centre are
involved in the creation of objects, buildings, activities and contexts from the past, through which our ancestors’ lives can be considered and
understood in more practical terms. This is a ‘hands on’ approach where archaeologists do not just collect and study existing archaeological finds,
but actually try to replicate anything from pots to houses. UCD School of Archaeology is the leading centre for the study of Viking settlement and
agriculture in Ireland – a major study of early medieval Ireland is on-going (www.emap.ie), and post-doctoral research into early medieval
agriculture is also underway,
THE VIKING GARDEN
The Glasnevin garden will showcase the variety of flora that could have been observed by a visitor to Viking Dublin.
Excavations at Fishamble Street have revealed a rich record of preserved plant remains, indicating a range of horticultural
crops, weeds and possible imported materials. Over 94 species have been identified and many are significant as some of the
earliest dated evidence of the species in Ireland. It is likely that the Vikings introduced many new crops and associated
weeds during the settlement of Dublin and other towns.
Flax and Hemp were grown as fibre crops, and many arable weed species suggest that
most houses would have had well-tilled gardens. We also know the Vikings cultivated other food and utility crops for which
no evidence has yet emerged in Dublin excavations; these too will be grown at Glasnevin to illustrate the historical setting.
This project has been generously supported by the Irish Museums Trust, Dublin City Council and the UCD school of Archaeology.