Monday, 10 February 2014

Clowanstown Mesolithic Scene

Another commissioned illustration done for the NRA (National Roads Authority), this time based off archaeological evidence recovered from the Clowanstown site. In the site excavated there a late Mesolithic walkway of some kind was recovered and also a few of the best preserved Mesolithic fish traps found in Ireland to date. The NRA teamed me up with an expert in the Mesolithic period, Dr. Graeme Warren of UCD, and Im indebted to both Dr. Warren and Mary Deevy of the NRA for their advice and guidance throughout.

The NRA do a better job of explaining the site so I will just copy and paste their words here:

"It is approximately 5000 BC. A man clad in clothing made of fish skin checks the catch in the woven basketry fish-trap that he’s just lifted from the base of the lake. He sits on a simple walkway to which the baskets are tethered. The walkway also acts as a mooring for his dugout canoe, although today his daughter has drifted off in it, distracted while playing with her miniature toy version of the boat. Their settlement is visible in the distance on the opposite side of the lake.

This image was inspired by the discovery of four wooden fish-traps embedded in peat, on the edge of what would have been a small lake in the Mesolithic period (Middle Stone Age). In addition to these highly important artefacts was the discovery of a possible miniature dugout canoe, perhaps a child’s toy. A number of posts pushed deep into the lakebed were found nearby and these have been interpreted as a walkway or mooring. There were few large mammals in Ireland at the time other than wolves, bears and boar. People lived by hunting boar and birds and by gathering wild plants, fruit and nuts; however, fishing would have been a crucial activity. Cultures with a similar reliance on fish, including the Hezhe in China, Ainu in Japan and others in Alaska, have a long tradition of making clothing from fish skins, which make for very soft, comfortable, warm, waterproof and durable garments.

The site was discovered at Clowanstown, Co. Meath, during archaeological investigations in advance of the construction of the M3 Clonee–North of Kells Motorway Scheme. Matt Mossop directed the excavation on behalf of Archaeological Consultancy Services Ltd. Dr Graeme Warren of the School of Archaeology, UCD, analysed the chipped stone artefacts from the site and kindly provided specialist advice to the artist J G O’Donoghue.

For further information about the Clowanstown fish-traps see Issue 2, Issue 4 and Issue 8 of Seanda magazine. Check out another story inspired by the Clowanstown fish-traps at"

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