Bective excavations Blog

Day 1 – 2012 Excavations: The first sod on Cathaoirleach’s last day in office
July 2, 2012, 8:39 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

The first day of the 2012 season began with the ceremonial digging of the first sod. We were honoured this year with the presence of the Cathaoirleach of Meath County Council, Councilor Eoin Holmes (who turned the first sod), Tom Dowling, Meath County Manager and Loreto Guinan, Meath Heritage Officer. Eoin gave a rousing opening speech, which inspired the team to heroic heights despite it being a very wet day. Eoin highlighted the richness of Meath’s heritage, the role it has in the life of the county’s citizens and its economic importance. He very generously applauded the contribution that the Stouts have made in the field of archaeology in county Meath.

The team included many veterans from previous seasons and a lot of new faces. The first cutting was de-sodded in the area west of the Lay Brothers range. Already we are finding post-medieval brown and black wares, glass and stray medieval sherds. James Doyle made the find of the day, a Bronze buckle! More cuttings will be opened tomorrow, watch this space.

Councilor Eoin Holmes digs the ceremonial first sod of 2012.

County Manger Tom Dowling holds the ceremonial trowel presented to him on the first day of the 2012 season. Councilor Holmes and Meath Heritage Officer Loreto Guinan also received these commemorative trowels. All three promised to return to use them at a future date.

The Cathaoirleach rouses the troops with his inspiring opening day speech.

The first visitors of the 2012 season were Tom Watson, Mary Watson and their daughter Morgan from Atlanta, Georgia, USA. Morgan is working at Black Friary. Kevin O’Brien (OPW, second from left) demonstrates surveying methods to the visitors.

The 2012 crew de-sod the new cutting.

This is the full text of Councilor Eoin Holmes’ opening speech:

As Cathaoirleach of Meath County Council I would like to welcome you all to the official opening of the Bective Abbey Archaeological Excavation 2012 season. We are so blessed in Meath to have an astonishingly rich archaeological landscape. And Bective Abbey is another absolute gem in the Boyne Valley. The abbey, was founded in 1147 with an endownment from Murchad Ua Máel Sechnaill. It was the first daughter house of Mellifont, established only five years after its foundation. It remains a very architecturally impressive building to this day. I also think in County Meath we are lucky to have attracted the interest of Ireland’s foremost scholars. I want to take this opportunity as Cathlaoireach of County Meath to thank two of our ‘heritage champions’ Geraldine and Matt Stout. Their enthusiasm, dedication and scholar out put to record, highlight and celebrate the heritage of Meath is outstanding. They give generously of their time and knowledge and convey with great skill the wonder and awe of the landscape of County Meath and beyond. Both Geraldine and Matt have published extensively on the Boyne Valley and Geraldine is currently researching a book on the Cistercians and Matthew has recently co-edited the second edition of the seminal book – Atlas of the Irish Rural Landscape. We are greatly indebted to them and on behalf of the people of Meath I would like to thank them for their outstanding contribution to Meath Heritage. Our heritage is an asset and resource for the people and economy of Meath. The Heritage Council has recently published a report assessing the economic value of heritage in Ireland. The key findings of the report make interesting reading and are hugely relevant to our county and more specifically to what we have come here to celebrate today: • The report finds that Ireland’s historic environment supports over 35,000 jobs and contributes in the order of €1.5 billion to the national economy; • The economic impact of Ireland’s historic environment/built heritage on the tourism sector through visitor expenditure is €700 million Gross Value Added (GVA); • The historic environment/built heritage sector contribution to the national economy is equivalent to more than 1% of total Irish GVA and some 2% of overall employment. The council recognises the enormous potential for the creation of employment and a sustainable economy that our heritage provides us. We are committed to the preservation of our archaeological heritage and to working with local communities and businesses to maximise the return on this potential. It is great for to see projects such as Bective Abbey and the Black Friary in Trim, establishing. What is special and hugely welcome about the approach taken at Bective is the outreach programme and how welcome visitors are to the site. Last year through support of Meath Heritage Office, the next Stout generation, Nora, developed a very innovative project by recording a series of Podcasts of the excavations and in doing this captured the experience of an archaeological dig in a very engaging manner. I’m glad to hear Nora is back this year developing a series of audio slide shows which celebrate the character and characters of Meath. Its great to see this new media approach to heritage. So I would like to officially ‘dig’ the first sod of the 2012 excavations – I wish you well in your dig and I hope that you make some amazing discoveries.


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