Friday, 21 August 2015

Illustrating the Past Book

My NRA archaeological illustration work, alongside the work of a few other archaeological reconstruction artists, are being published together in a new book by the TII (the new NRA) which will be launched next Thursday, the 27th of August in Dublin (ill be there!). The information on the launch was released by the TII as follows:

"The annual Dublin seminar, which this year will have papers on “The Archaeology of Roads and Light Rail” and will provide an opportunity to hear about some of the remarkable archaeological and historical discoveries from the Luas Lines and the current Cross City project.  This will commence at 15.45 in the Wood Quay Venue on Thursday 27th August.   The afternoon papers will be followed at 18.00 that evening by an address by the renowned archaeologist Julian Richards, who many will know from his work at Stonehenge and his television series “Stories from the Dark Earth: Meet the Ancestors Revisited” and “Meet the Ancestors” on the occasion of the launch of the first TII Heritage book “Illustrating the Past: archaeological discoveries from Irish road schemes”.""

Hopefully see some of ye there!

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Sketch Snorkeling & Ceann Heilbhic/Helvic Head

Cé Heilbhic/Helvic Quay, its actually Waterford Gaeltacht

The sheltered little cove we did our sketch snorkeling
The sketch snorkelers with our waterproof paper & back boards, a normal wood graphite pencil is all u need ontop

The island we swam out too and climbed, you can see it there in the middle, was quite the journey out to it!

The fun results of our attempt at sketching underwater, mine is the bottom right hand corner

The Slip at Ceann Heilbhic/Helvic Head

An Coinigéar, a narrow peninsula that stretches across Dungarvan Bay

Myself and some other intrepid sketch adventurers, went to Helvic Head over the weekend to see what happens when you combine sketching and snorkeling. The result was alot of fun! After we swam out to the nearby island and sketch snorkeled along the way, we came back and did a scenic drive around Helvic head checking out its piers, village and the narrow peninsula named 'An Coinigéar'

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Fossil me this Batman!

The flint nodule with little quartzite pebbles found with it

The fossil under my magnifying lamp

Brought over from Denmark for me, my mother found it on a beach there, which was pretty cool gift! On facebook we have been having this discussion as to what this pecular thing is. Those who know what they are talking about say its definitely flint, but what about the fossil inside, anyone know what that could be?

Sunday, 2 August 2015

Excavation, Wedge tomb cemeteries and the Cliffs of Moher

One of the many wedge tombs in a very small area

The reason I was up there, the first excavation of a wedge tomb in the Burren ever!

The strange revetment wall surrounding the tomb, which would have been used to hold up the cairn material

The inner wedge tomb, wasnt much left of it, just one of the side stones and the front entrance stone

Outside the tomb they found an inhumation! You can see the bones here

Nearby, the famous Parknabinnia Wedge tomb, another one crossed off the list!

The Cliffs of Moher. Not been here since I was 8!

I was very kindly invited to visit an excavation of a wedge tomb in the Burren by Ros Ó'Maoldúin. Twas an unmissable opportunity to see the excavation of a wedge tomb first hand (the first ever Wedge tomb to excavated in the Burren!). While there he took time out of his busy schedule to show me around the cluster of wedge tombs around it, which can only be described as a Bronze Age wedge tomb cemetery (only in the Burren!). While there myself Ara, the other half, took the chance to pop over and visited the Cliffs of Moher after.

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Windows of Kilcrea Castle

While at Kilcrea castle I did some sketches of some of the many windows of the castle

1. Is a square headed light
2. Is a ogee headed light
3. is an arrow slot, with a cross section and a gun port (the circle), perhaps for use for arrows, crossbows and guns.
4. Gun port
5. Twin light with ogee head and moulding around the top
6. Arrow slot with cross section

Portrait of a castle

Kilcrea castle

Ground floor entrance to the Castle

Murder hole in the lobby of the ground floor

Vaulted roof of the 2nd and 3rd floor

The door to the great hall of the castle at the top floor

One of the lovely windows of the great hall

The garderobe or toilet of the castle, wooden seats would  have been over these holes

The wall walk of the castle, notice the spade like shape of the wall walk slabs, these were shaped with an inbuilt funnel to allow rain water run off the wall walk

Currently Im working on an illustration of a late medieval tower house castle, I took the chance to pop over to my favourite castle again, Kilcrea and took a more thorough wonder around, examining it in detail for illustration.

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Sketches for workshops

Various sketches of archaeological item type replicas  for the drawing archaeology still life workshops I have done in the last few months

Monday, 13 July 2015

Motte & Bailey Illustration

Motte and Baileys are a kind of medieval fortification, mostly made out of a earth and timber. A Motte is the big earth mound (often artificial, though sometimes altered natural features) which is often either crowned with a hall or a tower or a wooden castle (sometimes replaced later by a stone castle) and a bailey was a fortified area at the foot of the motte. Often both were moated, which was more often a dry moat but here I showed the other possibility at times, filled with water.

These sites were most likely brought over to Ireland by the Normans but they werent exclusively Norman, they can be found as far east as Austria, Poland to Germany, France, Italy, Denmark, Britain etc, though they arent found in Iberia, Sweden and Norway. They originated around the French regions of the Loire and Rhine rivers around the end of the 10th century , but were continued to be were built to the late 13th century in Europe but Ireland they are most likely to come from the time of the initial stages of the Norman colonisation of Ireland in the late 12th century onwards. Often castles are mentioned in the written sources, so it is likely the native Irish were building something similar before the coming of the Normans but there isnt alot of archaeological evidence as of yet.

There are 350 or more examples in Ireland, most are Norman but some of that number are Irish or potentially so. Most are found in Leinster and East Ulster, with the majority in the good agricultural land of county Meath. Lots of them were also built by the Anglo-Normans in East Ulster, Oriel and Meath on the borders facing the power of the Cenel Eoghan (the most powerful clan at the time). Most likely there isnt many in Munster because there wasnt the right class there to build them and maybe not enough colonists. The Native Irish clan to make the most use of this castle type was the Uí Tuirtre in Central Co. Antrim, who possessed attractive land and were surrounded on 3 sides by the English Colony but yet they were able to hold onto their lands, most likely thanks to the Mottes they built on their borders.

30% of motte castles in Ireland have Baileys attached, they are often averaging less than 1000 sq metres and are early always delimited by banks, palisades and ditches. Most were squares, rectangular, oval or triangular, with the triangular shown here. No Baileys have been excavated in Ireland unfortunately but Mottes have been and a few have been found to have a hall like house on the top, one, Lismahon in county Down also had a small tower beside the hall like above. Most likely the hall was for feasts and administration for the lord, while the tower served as a lookout.

Motte and Bailey's also had a symbolic element, the Lord and upper echelons stayed in the Motte, while the soldiers, servants etc stayed in the Bailey. Often the Baileys had a few different buildings, like stables, wells, granaries, churches, smithy's, craft-working areas, kitchens, and accommodation to name a few. The Motte and Bailey could serve as a lord residence in peaceful times while it could act as a refuge for their tenants in times of war. Their main purpose though was  militaristic and administrative, to collect taxes and to enforce a political authority, to deter external forces from attacking.


1. The Archaeology of Norman Castles in Ireland: Part 1: Mottes and Ringworks- Tadhg O'Keeffe- Archaeology Ireland,Vol. 4, No. 3 (Autumn, 1990), pp. 15-17
2. Castles in Ireland- Tom McNeill
3. The Medieval Castles of Wales- John R. Kenyon
4. Medieval Castles- Marilyn Stokstad
5. Castles and Fortified Cities of Medieval Europe An Illustrated History- Jean- Denis G.G. Lepage
6. Understanding the Castle Ruins of England and Wales- Lise Hull
7. Castles- DK Eyewitness- Christopher Gravett
8. The illustrated Archaeology of Ireland- Edited by Michael Ryan

Sunday, 12 July 2015

Kilmore Quay

Stopped at Taghmon castle along the way

The many thatched houses of Kilmore Quay

Saltee Islands off in the distance

The sea and sky making a show of their amazingness 

Popped over for the day out in Kilmore Quay in co. Wexford with the girlfriend, lovely little fishing village, was a bit mad busy today though. But beautiful place with lovely thatched cottages, and the sky and sea were just showing off with their prettiness!

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Life Drawing Session 7th of July

One of the longer poses

The longest pose fo the night, I think 30 mins

My drawings from the life drawing session at Waterford Soma Life Drawing tonight

Monday, 6 July 2015

Three Castles and a little Folly

Little Island or Carrigenan Folly, a type of garden or estate ornament built by the gentry

Wallingstown castle- A Fitzgerald tower house

Barryscourt castle- the seat of the Barry family

Kilnatoora castle

The heavily overgrown entrance

Inside Kilnatoora castle, its lovely to take a stroll inside a castle like this by yourself, one of the reasons I prefer ruins than reconstructed touristy castles
Over the weekend I had a sketch wonder around sites in East Cork. Some lovely sites sitting around East Cork and its alot less trod on that west Cork as well

Monday, 29 June 2015

What a great age we live!

Working on an illustration of a motte & Bailey and just thinking its amazing the age we live. Here I am, reading about various sites archaeological features on, while viewing the sites from above via satellite imagery on Bing and at the same time looking at what the sites look like on Google Streetview, pretty cool to have that at ones fingertips!

While nothing beats a site visit, using digital software like this can save alot of time when doing research, let you see alot of different sites,  see them in ways you cant on the ground and gives you a great deal of real information in which to base illustrations on

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Drawing Heirlooms Workshop Photos

Attendees at the workshop drawing away

The many great drawings done by attendees at last nights workshop
Photos from last nights workshop on drawing heirlooms, a still life class with a twist. People brought in their own heirlooms or drew the items I supplied, as you can see, some great work done during the workshop!