4th Annual National Monuments Service archaeology conference.

Humans exist in a shared web of connections based largely on physical actions and experiences like travel, meeting, eating and storytelling. This has been brought more sharply into focus in recent times through the enforced social isolation of lockdowns during the pandemic. As we begin to emerge from this to explore and rediscover the channels of connection that we once took for granted, it is interesting to think about the nature of human connection in the past in its various forms.

Archaeology examines not only the physical infrastructure, tools and by-products of connection, like roadways or traded goods, but also forces us to consider the social imperatives and impacts of those connections—they are, after all, networks of and for people, not things.

One of the attractions of archaeology is the sense of connection with the past that is provided by proximity to relics that have survived—be they ruins or objects—and this attraction is a vital tool in connecting communities with their heritage. How do we best facilitate that connection?

This conference set out to explore the different types of connections between communities and material culture and monuments, and the role of archaeological heritage in deepening understandings of the material and social connections between the present and the past.

The programme developed by conference adviser Dr Sharon Greene (Editor of Archaeology Ireland), provided an interdisciplinary gathering of eminent scholars and practitioners to explore connections across four aspects: physical connectors; pathways of discovery; social connection; and connecting the past and the present.

Nexus: people and places through time is presented by the National Monuments Service and organised by Archaeology Ireland. The conference was broadcast, free,  online on the 16 October 2021.

Recordings of all the lectures can be viewed on the National Monuments YouTube sites by clicking here



Session 1: Physical connectors                     

Introduction to conference and speakers, session 1: Dr Sharon Greene, Archaeology Ireland

Chaired by Dr Sharon Greene

May the road rise to meet you – Irish toghers and the stories they can tell us.

Cathy Moore, Wood artefact specialist, Archaeological and Built Heritage.

Cathy Moore is a graduate of University College Dublin. She has worked on archaeological projects throughout Ireland and specialises in the archaeology of wetlands, ancient woodworking and wooden artefacts. Cathy is a Managing Director of Archaeology and Built Heritage Ltd.

Crossing Points: River Fords and the Study of Landscape.

Paul Gosling, Department of Heritage and Tourism, Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology

Fords are a common but half-forgotten feature of the Irish countryside, their positions recalled (if at all) only by ‘áth’ placenames, historic maps and local memory. Being gifts of nature, they are distinctly un-monumental and liminal locations. As a result, they have featured only intermittently in academic research: their existence often overlooked by the archaeologist, their presence mere backdrops for the historian, their toponymy preoccupying the philologist. Yet fords offer great potential for historic geography and landscape archaeology. As places where topography and geology intersect, river-fords offer key insights into travel, community interaction and settlement patterns.

Q & A facilitated by Dr Sharon Greene


Session 2: Pathways of discovery 

Introduction to speakers, session 2: Neil Jackman, Arbarta Heritage

Chaired by Neil Jackman

A well-trodden path: an ancient pathway and associated landscape at Balbriggan, Co. Dublin.

Steven McGlade, Archaeology Plan

Steven McGlade has been an archaeological director and project manager with Archaeology Plan since 2014. He is experienced in both the commercial and the research sectors in Ireland and Peru, and was publication assistant for the Discovery Programme’s Western Stone Forts Project.

A guidebook on the way: encountering archaeology on the Waterford Greenway.

Dave Pollock, Archaeologist and illustrator, Archaeografix, Waterford.

Dave Pollock MIAI, a freelance archaeologist and illustrator, graduated from UC Cardiff, worked for years in Scotland and moved to Ireland in the 1990s. Since then he has assessed and investigated for the OPW and developers and has drawn and written for panels and guidebooks.

Q & A facilitated by Neil Jackman


Session 3: Social connection 

Introduction to speakers, session 3: Dr Sharon Greene, Archaeology Ireland

Chaired by Dr Sharon Greene,

Boyne to Brodgar: revealing and celebrating the interconnected nature of the Neolithic in Ireland, Britain and the Isle of Man.

Alison Sheridan, Former Principal Archaeological Research Curator in the Department of Scottish History and Archaeology, National Museums Scotland.

Dr Alison Sheridan, Emerita Principal Curator of Early Prehistory, National Museums Scotland, and Current Archaeology’s Archaeologist of the Year in 2020, specialises in the Scottish and Irish Neolithic. She co-authored (with Professor Gabriel Cooney) the Boyne to Brodgar Research Framework.

Beer and Brewing in Sixteenth-Century Ireland.

Susan Flavin, Associate Professor of History in the School of Histories and Humanities, TCD.

Susan Flavin is an Associate Professor in History at Trinity College, Dublin. She is Principal Investigator of the interdisciplinary ERC-funded FoodCult Project (foodcult.eu), which explores food consumption and culture in Ireland c. 1550–1650. Her publications include Consumption and culture in sixteenth-century Ireland (Boydell, 2014) and ‘Domestic materiality in Ireland, 1550–1730’

Q & A facilitated by Dr Sharon Greene


Session 4: Connecting the past and the present 

Introduction to speakers, session 4: Neil Jackman, Arbarta Heritage

Chaired by Neil Jackman

Manifesting the Ghosts of Place through Archaeology and Empathy.

April Beisaw, Associate Professor of Anthropology, Vassar College, New York, USA.

Dr April M. Beisaw is an Associate Professor of Anthropology at Vassar College in New York. She has published on the intersection of archaeology and ghost-hunting in the edited volumes Lost city, found pyramid (2016) and Blurring timescapes (2020).

Landscapes of difficult heritage - commemorating painful and contested pasts.

Gustav Wolentz, Nordic Centre of Heritage Learning and Creativity, Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel, Germany.

Dr Gustav Wollentz is an archaeologist who defended his Ph.D in 2018 at Kiel University, having finished his Bachelor and Master theses at Linnaeus University. He is currently working as a researcher and project leader at the Nordic Centre of Heritage Learning and Creativity in Östersund, Sweden.

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