Mid-Congress Field Trips

M:Arch-1 National Museum of Ireland – Collections Resource Centre, Swords, Co. Dublin

Date: 28th July 2019
Leader: Dr Nigel Monaghan
Guide price: €55
Primary Focus: Archaeology

The National Museum of Ireland – Natural History has its behind the scenes operations (offices, library, archives and collections) at the National Museum of Ireland – Collections Resource Centre, just north of Dublin Airport. This is an opportunity to see collections that are not on public view, including a large number of antler sets of the Pleistocene giant deer Megaloceros or ‘Irish Elk’ as well as bones from over two centuries of collecting from open sites and caves in Ireland. Overseas collections include British material from many classic localities and some Maltese fossils including giant dormouse and pygmy elephant.

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M12 websiteM:Arch-2 Brú na Bóinne and the Hill of Tara

Date: 28th July 2019
Leader: Dr Stephen Davis
Guide price: €95
Primary Focus: Archaeology

This full-day excursion will visit two of Ireland’s key archaeological landscapes: the passage tomb cemetery of Brú na Bóinne and the ‘Royal Site’ of the Hill of Tara. Brú na Bóinne is one of Europe’s most significant archaeological landscapes and one of only three UNESCO WHS on the island of Ireland. It is famous for its passage tombs and megalithic art, in particular the ‘megatombs’ of Knowth and Newgrange, considered the acme of the middle Neolithic (c. 3200 BC) passage tomb tradition. The Hill of Tara is the traditional seat of the High Kings of Ireland and its most famous Royal Centre. It is a multi-period landscape with monuments ranging from the Neolithic passage tomb of the Mound of the Hostages through Bronze Age barrows and likely early medieval (400-800 AD) settlement enclosures.

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M14 websiteM:Arch-3 Glendalough

Date: 28th July 2019
Leader: Dr Graeme Warren
Guide price: €95
Primary Focus: Archaeology

This full-day excursion will visit the ‘monastic city’ of Glendalough and its surrounds. Set in a spectacular glacial valley, the two lakes of Glendalough are home to one of the most renowned of Ireland’s monastic sites. Founded by St Kevin in the C6th AD, the majority of the upstanding archaeological remains on the site today date to the C12-13th, but also include a well-preserved ‘round tower’ one of the most characteristic of all Irish medieval monuments. The tour will take in the upstanding archaeological remains, discuss the recent excavations by UCD School of Archaeology and provide a tour of the C19th lead mining village, located at the far end of the upper lake. It is intended that this will include a moderate hike and may be unsuitable for those of limited mobility.

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M13 websiteM:Arch-4 Loughcrew and Uisneach

Date: 28th July 2019
Leader: Prof Muiris O’Sullivan
Guide price: €95
Primary Focus: Archaeology

This full-day excursion will visit the spectacular archaeological landscapes of Loughcrew and Uisneach. Loughcrew, like the better-known Brú na Bóinne is a Neolithic (c. 3200 BC) passage tomb cemetery, famed for its spectacular megalithic art and astronomical alignments. It offers a very different experience to the visitor than Newgrange and Knowth, and is much less intensively managed, providing stunning views over the plains of Meath and west to Westmeath. The Royal Centre of Uisneach, known as the Navel of Ireland represents a key site in early Irish mythology and folklore. It is the geographic and mythological centre of Ireland. Famous for its huge glacial erratic – known as The Cat Stone, the Hill of Uisneach, like Tara, represents a multiperiod archaeological landscape with activity dating from the Neolithic through to the early medieval period.

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M6M:Arch-5 Geology and Quaternary Environments of the Rathcroghan Archaeological Landscape and Wider Machaire Connacht Region, Co. Roscommon

Date: 28th July 2019
Leader: Daniel Curley
Guide price: €130
Primary Focus: Archaeology

This excursion takes the participants from urban Dublin across the extensive peatlands of the central plain towards the elevated plateau of Carboniferous limestone upon which Machaire Connacht (Plains of Connacht) sits. This area has been the focus of human interaction from the Mesolithic Period onwards. A visit to this area will showcase a range of features formed by geological and glacial processes, creating a distinctive landscape which then attracted an extended period of human settlement and agriculture. The excursion will present lake settlements located in the mid-Roscommon ribbed moraine belt, with the formation of the lakes a direct result of these glacial deposits. The dense concentration of archaeological monuments that constitute the Rathcroghan Complex, situated at the summit of a glacial plateau, will be explored, with a particular focus on the ritual monument of Rathcroghan Mound. While in this area, discussions will lead to the enigmatic features referred to as ‘pitfields’, an anomalous feature that seems only to occur in this region. Access will be provided also to the karst limestone cavern of Oweynagat, one of a number of naturally occurring cavities in the Rathcroghan Complex, whose distinctive geology inspired literary and mythological concepts that still resound today.

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M:Geo-1 Decorative and Dimension Stones in Urban Dublin

Date: 28th July 2019
Leader: Dr Patrick Wyse Jackson
Guide price: €30
Primary Focus: Geology

Dublin boasts a vast range of building stones, from native granite and limestones to exotic imported facing stones, and these will be examined during a 2 to 3-hour walk in the city. The use of stone for building in Dublin goes back to the Normans who were the first major users; native Calp and English limestone are utilised in Christ Church Cathedral. The nickname “Dear Dirty Dublin” comes from the use of poor quality Donnybrook argillaceous limestone for paving. During the prosperous eighteenth century when most of Dublin’s important public buildings were erected.  Limestone rubble walls were faced in either local Wicklow granite or Portland stone, an imported  Jurassic oolitic limestone, often carved into finer features such as swags, capitals and columns. Brick, extensively used in residential squares, such as Mountjoy and Merrion Squares was sourced in England or produced locally from the inner city or from Athy.  Slate for roofing was largely Welsh although Irish slate was available from Ashford, Co. Wicklow and Killaloe, Co. Clare. Irish marble and polished limestones were used as a decorative stone from the early seventeenth century. They included the Connemara green serpentinite, Cork red and Kilkenny and Galway black limestones. Triassic sandstone from England and Scotland, English oolitic limestone, Irish limestones and granite from Leinster are commonly found in Dublin Victorian buildings. Concrete buildings built in the last forty years are usually covered with a thin veneer or cladding of decorative polished stone largely imported from Scandinavia, Brazil, southern Europe and further afield.

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Giants-CAuseway-Tour-300x85

M:Geo-2 Giant’s Causeway

Date: 28th July 2019
Leader: TBA
Guide price: €130
Primary Focus: Geology

The Giant’s Causeway day tour transports you to the very northern point of Ireland where you see one of Ireland’s 7 Wonders and some of the most breathtaking sights and scenery Northern Ireland has to offer. Traveling along some of the most dramatic coastline in Ireland, you’ll learn Irish history from a passionate guide and have the chance to take photos of some of the most beautiful locations in the world! The Giant’s Causeway is Ireland’s first World Heritage site and the story of its formation is fascinating, whether you prefer the scientific explanation or the one involving a trick played on a giant! Breathe in the fresh northern air at the Causeway and explore the unique rock formations that are shrouded in mystery and myth. Can you draw up the courage of a lion to cross the famous Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge? Or maybe a leisurely stroll along the beautiful sweeping beach looking out on Whitepark Bay and Portbradden is more your idea of heaven. The north coast of County Antrim is deeply rooted in history and legend and on your Giant’s Causeway day tour with us you can experience it all!

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M1 KerryM:GL-1 The Coastal Sections of Killiney Bay, Co. Wicklow

Date: 28th July 2019
Leader: Dr Steve McCarron
Guide price: €30
Primary Focus: Glacial

The extensive (4km+) Quaternary sections backing the easily accessible beach stretching from Killiney Head to Bray Head in north Co. Wicklow have been documented in descriptions of Ireland’s Quaternary geology since Victorian times and some of the first Irish geological survey memoirs (Lampugh et al, 1903). The magnificently exposed sediment sequence features diamict and gravel sequences that have featured in strongly contested varied interpretations ranging from subglacial to glaciomarine facies. A visit to the section north of Corbawn Lane Steps alone allows overview and discussion of some of the main features of the sequence including the famous fossiliferous ‘Irish Sea Till’, hydrofracturing, and many more.

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M:GL-2 Younger Dryas Glaciation in the Wicklow Mountains

Date: 28th July 2019
Leader: Lauren Knight
Guide price: €95
Primary Focus: Glacial

The Wicklow Mountains are a key area for glaciation during the Younger Dryas (12.9-11.7 ka) as the region contains the Irish Younger Dryas type site, Lough Nahanagan. For this reason, the period is traditionally known (in Ireland) as the Nahanagan Stadial. However, the area is considered marginal for late glacial glaciation with only cirque glaciers nourished at limited locations. The radiocarbon dates (11.5 ka) of the moraines at Lough Nahanagan (Colhoun and Synge, 1980) remain the only absolute dates for the area.  Limited Nahanagan Stadial dates has hindered recognition of the extent of cirque glaciation in the Wicklow Mountains, as the region exhibits a subtle glacial geomorphological signature. Until recently, there has been little attempt to establish understanding of both the geomorphological and morphostratigraphical evidence. Utilising recent work in the region, the field meeting will re-examine the extent of late glacial cirque glaciation. Visits to significant sites will include Lough Nahanagan and Kelly’s Lough. In addition to re-evaluation of the glacial geomorphology, the controls and conditions critical for both the initiation and survival of cirque glaciers during the Nahanagan Stadial, in the Wicklow Mountains, will be examined.

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M:GL-3 Glacial Lake Blessington: Deposits, Deformation, Outflow Features

Date: 28th July 2019
Leader: Dr Michael Philcox
Guide price: €95
Primary Focus: Glacial

Glacial Lake Blessington formed when Midlandian ice from central Ireland advanced eastwards against the Wicklow Mountains, blocking the R. Liffey at the downstream end of the Blessington (topographic) Basin. A large ice-contact delta formed while the ice front was pinned on the Slievethoul Ridge on the west side of the basin. Extensive gravel pits at Blessington have revealed two phases of delta growth, separated by an erosional phase, when ice-retreat briefly unplugged the basin. The delta complex consists of a sub-aqueous fan to delta succession, a narrow ice-front zone displaying local ice-advance and retreat features (e.g. thrusting and ice-melt collapse), and a major ice-retreat zone behind of the delta, characterized by outwash gravels and highly deformed laminated fines. Basinward of the main delta complex deep-water laminated clays (varves?) and pre-delta outwash deposits occur in lower ground. Downstream from the overflow channel at c.280 m, lake water escaped southwards via a series of sub-glacial and sub-aerial channels, to form a valley-train of alluvial deposits over 20 km long. The fieldtrip will investigate the geomorphology and sediments of this system, supplemented by photographs and field diagrams of past pit faces.

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M11M:GL-4 Deglaciation of the Northern Ireland Sector of the Irish Sea

Date: 28th July 2019
Leader: Dr Sam Roberson
Guide price: €95
Primary Focus: Glacial

The glacial geology of Northern Ireland, like much of the UK and Ireland, is characterised by a contrast between complete ice sheet coverage during the last glacial maximum and local upland ice cap glaciations typical of average glacial conditions during the Quaternary. Recent studies by the Geological Survey of Northern Ireland, The British Geological Survey and the University of Liverpool have contributed to understandings of the style and timing of the Late-glacial re-advance in Northern Ireland.  The coastal location of the Mournes has resulted in a complex interplay between local icefield glaciers, the Irish Sea Ice stream and regional scale outlet glaciers.

This fieldtrip will present coastal exposures and glacial landforms in County Down that reflect the range and timing processes operating beneath the Irish Ice Sheet during deglaciation (ribbed moraines, drumlins, glacial lineations, subglacial meltwater channels and grounding zone wedges). Field visits will provide insights into the style and rate of ice retreat in the Irish Sea.

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M3M:GL-5 Glacial and Fluvial Deposits in the Irish Midlands

Date: 28th July 2019
Leader: Dr Catherine Delaney
Guide price: €110
Primary Focus: Glacial

This field excursion will take place in the Central Irish Midlands, a lowland landscape dominated by extensive wetland tracts, traversed by the River Shannon.  The excursion will focus on the glacial landscape of the area, which is thought to date from the last Glacial Termination (post-22,000BP) and is dominated by the Irish Midlands esker system, which contains the largest of the Irish eskers.  Past interpretations of ice sheet dynamics have suggested the area was characterised by slowly moving or stagnant ice, although the direction of ice recession is debated.  However, research has revealed a range of low-amplitude subglacial to ice-marginal landforms, including mega-scale glacial lineations, washboard moraine and fluted moraine and crevasse squeeze ridges.  The excursion will visit a range of sites to examine the eskers and the surrounding landforms, and end with a consideration of the Holocene fluvial landscape west of the River Shannon. This will examine the influence of the glacial legacy on Lateglacial and Holocene fluvial history together with climate and land-use change.

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M:GL-6 Wicklow in the Grip of an Ice Age

Date: 28th July 2019
Leader: Prof Pete Coxon
Guide price: €110
Primary Focus: Glacial

This excursion involves a guided bus tour through the dramatic Wicklow Mountains to the south of Dublin. The aim is to introduce all (the trip is of interest to families and experts alike) to the effects of large scale climate change on the landscape and to put the Dublin area and the Wicklow Mountains into a modern scientific frame by showing how the modern features that we see were formed. The tour will provide a relaxing one day tour covering many aspects of the area’s Quaternary geological and geomorphological history. The tour is outlined here and as a map.

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M:GL-7 Northeast Irish Midlands

Date: 28th July 2019
Leader: Dr Robbie Meehan
Guide price: €110
Primary Focus: Glacial

The trip will examine the glacial and post-glacial history of the northeast Irish Midlands, by looking at the landscape geomorphology of the area, as well as the archaeological record.  Stops include the catchment divide between the Shannon and Boyne Rivers, where an important Neolithic passage tomb complex stands, as well as a number of adjacent deglacial landforms including eskers, deltas and fans.  The importance of the glacial and deglacial features in the economy of the area will be examined, as will the land use and current rural economy of the localities visited.  The importance of groundwater-surface water interactions will also be looked at, and the associated impact on drinking water in the area, and preservation of water status.

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MidlandsM:HI-3 Life and Adaptation in the Irish Wetlands during the Holocene

Date: 28th July 2019
Leader: Dr. Gill Plunkett
Guide price: €110
Primary Focus: Holocene

The Irish climate and topography have joined forces since the Early Holocene to render an extensive area of lakelands and bogs in the Irish midlands. In recent times, these environments have been regarded as marginal, in need of drainage and improvement in order to make them economically productive. Yet archaeological and palaeoenvironmental evidence demonstrates the importance of the wetlands to human populations since the Early Holocene, the records made all the richer by the exceptional preservation of organic remains that these environments offer. In this fieldtrip, we will visit Derragh Lough and Lough Kinale where extensive occupation around the lakes can be traced from the Later Mesolithic (~6000–3800 BCE) through to Early Medieval times (~400-1100 CE). We will view the setting of the occupation sites and consider the changing significance of the wetland environment through time. We will then proceed to Corlea Trackway Visitor Centre to view the remarkable Iron Age roadway that is arguably the pinnacle of a long tradition of peatland constructions built to aid the exploitation and crossing of the boglands, and other forms of trackways that were utilised from prehistoric to Medieval times. Together the sites illustrate that far from being a hindrance to occupation, the wetlands afforded a wealth of resources and were sufficiently worthy of settlement to stimulate a range of creative solutions to any challenges they presented.

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M20 websiteM:HI-4 Archaeology, Palaeoecology and Current Conservation Status of Three Raised Bogs in the Irish Midlands

Date: 28th July 2019
Leader: Dr Bettina Stefanini
Guide price: €110
Primary Focus: Holocene

Within the Irish Midlands raised bogs are particularly abundant, nowhere more so than in Co. Offaly. Exploitation of peat is still widespread and continues to reveal a surprisingly rich stream of archaeological sites and artefacts. At Lemanagan the bog interlaces with dryland areas. On the island St. Manchan’s church and graveyard, a bullaun stone, graveslabs, a holy well and St Mella’s cell which is reputed to have been founded by St. Manchan in the 7th century form ecclesiastical heritage. The Lemanaghan tower house the secular part of this early mediaeval landscape. Peat milling has revealed wooden trackways and platforms that linked dryland areas to wetland sites at multiple locations and times throughout prehistory and during later phases. The possibilities around post exploitation use of peatlands come to the fore in the neighbouring Lough Boora complex. Originally this site revealed the remains of a Mesolithic campsite and evidence for the seasonal exploitation of boar. More recently it has been allowed to re-flood and now functions as a bird sanctuary. Clara Bog, a Ramsar site is also protected under the Natura 2000 network. The bog has a complex hydrology with a soak system. It is probably the best studied bog of its kind in Ireland. Parts of this unique site are accessible through a 1km looped timber boardwalk.

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