Luxeuil Archaeological Field School 2013

Laurent Fiocchi discusses the latest results in Sondage 1 with the students.

Laurent Fiocchi discusses the latest results in Sondage 1 with the students.

The second annual Luxeuil Archaeological Field School concluded on the 23rd of August after a wholly successful three week campaign in which students from Ireland, France and Croatia came together to work on the remains of Columbanus’ first continental monastery. The development of a full seminar series for this years programme, involving not only the students themselves, but also a number of invited lecturers, made it a thoroughly rewarding experience for all involved and represents a recipe for success to be applied in future campaigns.

Envisaged as an exploratory campaign, in advance of a large scale excavation next year, this year’s fieldwork consisted of opening a number of test trenches in the area surrounding the Romanesque church remains exposed by Dr. Giles Cugnier in the 1950s. The placement of the test trenches was based on evidence gathered through geophysical prospection in previous campaigns, while a further campaign of Ground Penetrating Radar was carried out by Fabien Chuc from the Centre d’Études Médiévales, Auxerre, in a number of parcels of land which had yet to be explored.

An aerial view of Annegray, showing the location of the four test trenches opened during the 2013 campaign.

An aerial view of Annegray, showing the location of the four test trenches opened during the 2013 campaign.

The test trenches allowed for the identification of the eastern and southern limits of the Romanesque phase of the church at Annegray, two areas which had remained undisturbed by the earlier excavation. On the eastern side, Sondage 1 revealed two semi-circular apses (the central and northern apse) which represent the eastern limit of the structure. While the results are still preliminary, with the analysis of carbonised wood samples taken from the mortar of the structures still to be conducted, a purely stylistic consideration of the features would place their construction in the 11th – 12th centuries. Sondage 3, in a parcel of private land to the south of the exposed remains, was placed to investigate a liner anomaly evident parallel to the church itself. The test trench revealed a series of large walls, of various phases, but which once again broadly relate to the Romanesque remains evident on the ground in the adjoining parcel. Apart from demonstrating the potential of the archaeology in this sector of the site, the various phases of construction evident in this brief campaign of test trenching, hint at a broad chronology of use: once again a number of samples were taking for C14 dating which will help the team in building up an overall chronology of the occupation of the hill on which the church site stands.

The variety of feature types and soil conditions, even in a site as small as Annegray, allowed for the students involved to familiarise themselves with a range of different contexts. They also benefited from the vast experience of the site supervisors, Dr. Sebastien Bully, Morana Čaušević Bully and Laurent Fiocchi, who imparted their expert knowledge in excavation, surveying and recording over the course of the three-week excavation. For the Irish students involved, in particular, it proved a once in a lifetime opportunity to familiarise themselves with the archaeology and excavation practices of a different country.

Students and locals enjoy an evening aperitif during the open day at Annegray

Students and locals enjoy an evening aperitif during the open day at Annegray

As part of our continuing efforts to involve the local population, an open day was held on the second last day of work, attended by members of the local press (L’Est Republicain), the mayors of La Voivre and Faucogney et la Mer, members of the Amis de Saint Colomban along with many inhabitants of Annegray itself. The evening event involved a guided tour of the excavation and description of the primary findings, followed by an aperitif over which questions could be asked in a much more informal ambience. The site was also visited by the head of the Regional Service for Archaeology (SRA), Mrs Marie-Agnès Gaidon-Bunuel, for the third year running. In addition to showing her approval of the work being undertaken by the collaborative project at Annegray, she also gave permission for a large scale excavation to be carried out on the basis of this years’ results. The 2014 campaign will take place over 6 weeks in August and September of next year and will consist of an open excavation connecting the areas of Sondage 1 and 3, incorporating a large sector of the site which evidently was not disturbed by Cugnier’s work and as such has the potential of revealing remains predating the Romanesque features discovered this year. In the interest of expanding the collaborative relationship, which this year is gathering momentum through the work conducted at Bobbio and Cleenish (Co. Fermanagh), it is envisaged that next year’s campaign will also involve a number of students from the University of Piemonte Orientale in northern Italy, thus bringing together the three main poles working on the archaeology of Saint Columbanus.

Alongside the fieldwork component of the field school, a series of seminars were also organised in the Abbaye de Saint Colomban in Luxeuil. These events provided the students with an opportunity to present their research work to an international audience and were aimed at encouraging these young researchers to consider what lessons they might learn from the approaches practiced in different research environments. In addition to the student’s own presentations, participants were also treated to a series of master-classes by a specially invited group of French and Irish academics. Dr Tomás O’Carragain of the archaeology department in University College Cork gave a lecture on insular early medieval monastic sites, which helped to set the context in which Annegray should be appreciated. Dr Kieran O’Connor of NUI Galway spoke on moated sites in Ireland, in light of last year’s discovery of a similar structure in the immediate vicinity of the monastery of Annegray, and his insights on the occurrence of these settlement types in relation to ecclesiastical centres were particularly well received. The master-class series was rounded off by Dr Stefan Wurtz, a bronze age specialist of the University of Dijon, who gave an overview of the pre-Columbanian activity in the wider Bruchin valley region. Needless to say, the success of the seminar component of the field school means that it will be further expanded in the coming years.

Clockwise from top left, Alicia Mougin (Masters Student, Université de Franche-Comte), Eugene Costello (PhD student, NUI Galway), Ivan Valant (Masters Student, University of Zagreb) and Fabien Chuc (Centre d’Études Médiévales, Auxerre) give their presentations during the seminar series at the Luxeuil Archaeological Field School.

Clockwise from top left, Alicia Mougin (Masters Student, Université de Franche-Comte), Eugene Costello (PhD student, NUI Galway), Ivan Valant (Masters Student, University of Zagreb) and Fabien Chuc (Centre d’Études Médiévales, Auxerre) give their presentations during the seminar series at the Luxeuil Archaeological Field School.

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Cleenish Island Archaeological Field School, 25th Sept to 5th Oct, 2013

The second field school organised by Columbanus: Life and Legacy Project will take place between 25 September and 5 October on Cleenish Island, Upper Lough Erne, Co. Fermanagh, where Columbanus received his primary education under St Sinell, its 6th century founder. As in the case of the Luxeuil Field School, the aim is fulfil one of the key research aims of the project whilst also bringing together postgraduate students from NUI Galway and our partner universities in France and Italy to create an enduring legacy of international contacts amongst the next generation of scholars.

1.Aerial view of Cleenish with area of geophysical survey marked in

1. Aerial view of Cleenish with area of geophysical survey marked in

The School will provide hands-on training in the two standard geophysical survey techniques (magnetometry and electrical resistance) and data processing and interrogation to 6 students (2 from each of the participating universities), by surveying the area around the graveyard on the northwest side of Cleenish Island (see Figure 1), the reputed site of the monastery founded by St Sinell and a later (medieval) parish church. Apart from the disused graveyard and several medieval carved stones – all of which form part of the scheduled monument (SMR FER229:013) – no traces of any archaeological features are visible at the site today. This is the first archaeological investigation to take place at Cleenish and has the potential of opening up a new chapter in the story of St Columbanus.

The field school will also host a series of seminars and excursions led by distinguished scholars who will share their expertise on various aspects of Irish archaeology, the early history of the Lough Erne region and Columbanus’ career prior to his departure from Ireland in the late sixth century.

2.Upper Lough Erne (photo courtesy of the Inland Waterways Association of Ireland)

2. Upper Lough Erne (photo courtesy of the Inland Waterways Association of Ireland)

The School will be directed by Dr Roseanne Schot, who is a Research Associate at Department of Archaeology, School of Geography and Archaeology, NUI Galway. Roseanne directed the geophysics at Annegray and Bobbio.

The six students include:

Anita Pinagli– School of Geography and Archaeology, NUI Galway

Oleg Kelly – School of Geography and Archaeology, NUI Galway

Stefano Bocchio, Università degli Studi Piemonte di Torino

Nadia Botalla Buscaglia, Università degli Studi del Piemonte Orientale, Vercelli

Thomas Chenal, Université de Franche-Comté, Besançon

Alicia Mougin, Université de Franche-Comté, Besançon

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Luxeuil Archeological Field School 2013 Luxeuil-les-Bains and Annegray, 31st June – 23rd August 2013.

The Columbanus’ Life and Legacy Project at the Moore Institute, NUI Galway, is delighted to announce details of the 2013 Luxeuil Archaeological Field School that will take place from the 31st July to the 23rd August.

The Field School arises from long-standing and fruitful collaboration with Dr. Sebastién Bully of the CNRS (UMR – Dijon) and brings together Irish and French graduate students in an environment of international research collaboration where they have an opportunity to develop both their practical and research skills, learn from leading scholars from both countries, and make lasting friendships and professional networks.

6_Untitled5The primary element of the Field School is the excavation module, where the students will work on on-going excavations at Annegray, Haute-Saone, France. This site has been under investigation by the joint Irish-French team since 2010 and this year will enter an exciting new phase, with the proposed excavation of two late medieval ecclesiastical structures, both of which show signs of previous use in the early medieval period. The multi-phase nature of both of the sites earmarked for excavation in the 2013 campaign will provide the students with invaluable experience in dealing with complex and multi-phase stratigraphical sequences The technical team will provide instruction on geodetic survey methodologies over the course of the three week excavation.

To encourage interaction and to learn from one another this year participating students will present on their own PhD research and  share their methodological and theoretical approaches with each other. Given the diversity of graduate research topics, to help map out common points of interest, and to stimulate discussion on the differences in approach at the respective institutions, the presentations will speak to a number of overarching themes worked out in advance by the participants ,. The question of Landscape and the usefulness of a landscape approach to archaeology, in particular, will form a core part of our approach in these sessions.

Finally, there will be a series of master-classes delivered by leading researchers on medieval archaeology in both France and Ireland made possible by the generous support provided of the Mellon Foundation. It is envisaged that these talks will be of benefit not only to the students, but to the lecturers themselves as it will provide an occasion to discuss topics relating to early medieval archaeology which have for too long been considered from a solely Irish or Continental perspective, without considering the possible broader contexts. Early monastic settlement in Ireland will be presented by Dr Tomas ÓCarragáin of University College Cork, the leading Irish expert on the architecture of the early Irish church and someone whose breadth of experience will offer important perspectives on the results of the fieldwork at Annegray in the context of  broader trends in monastic architecture. Dr Kieran O’Conor of NUI Galway, will talk on moated sites in both a continental and an insular context, and in particular on the juxtaposition of these sites with monastic settlements, a topic of particular interest in the context of the last two seasons of excavation on the moated site at Annegray. In addition to invited guests from Ireland, a number of leading French arcaheologists are currently being lined up to participate in the field school master classes.

The Luxeuil Archaeological Field School represents part of the long-term legacy of the current collaborative project at Annegray. In bringing together students from Dr. Bully’s Project Collectif de Recherche (PCR) on early monasticism in Gaul, with graduate students from Irish research institutions we hope to sow the seeds of future collaborative International research projects while at the same time strengthening the links built up over the past four years of collaboration.

A second field school, focused on geophysical prospection, will take place in September at the island-monastery of Cleenish, Lough Erne, where Columbanus was educated under Saint Sinell before progressing on to Bangor, Co. Down. This will mark the first archaeological investigation of this important early monastery, and will involve invited graduate students from institutions in Italy, France and Ireland participating in the Making Europe: Columbanus and his Legacy (Aux origines de la construction de l’Europe: Colomban et son héritage ; Costruire l’Europa: Colombano e la sua eredità).

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Death of Aidan Breen

Aidan_Breen_picResearchers at the Columbanus Life and Legacy project offer their condolences to the family of the late Aidan Breen who worked on the project in 2009 and 2010.

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Examination of the Bobbio Reliquary/Chrismal

Central to the collection of the Museo della citta di Bobbio is a reliquary/chrismal of Irish origin discovered in a sarcophagus in the crypt of the Basilico di San Colombano in 1910 along with a quite eclectic range of objects (listed in Michael Ryan’s 1990 JRSAI paper).

Side view of the restored chrismal/reliquary. Like the Clonmore shrine it too is missing the two gable ends of the roof/lid. This is a curious detail that will require further reflection such as whether, if the object originally had a wooden core, could the wood have been exposed here? Cormac Bourke has established that the Clonmore shrine was strap- soldered together but such is not readily ascertainable in the case of the Bobbio specimen, except that the piano-hinge is soldered in place.

Side view of the restored chrismal/reliquary. Like the Clonmore shrine it too is missing the two gable ends of the roof/lid. This is a curious detail that will require further reflection such as whether, if the object originally had a wooden core, could the wood have been exposed here? Cormac Bourke has established that the Clonmore shrine was strap- soldered together but such is not readily ascertainable in the case of the Bobbio specimen, except that the piano-hinge is soldered in place.

It is the only definitively Irish object from Bobbio, being decorated in the insular curvilinear style, and is of considerable interest. A very similar (except in respect of its ornamentation) reliquary was found in material dredged from the River Blackwater at Clonmore, Co. Armagh, in 1990 suggesting that the one from Bobbio was made, if not in the same place, then at least in the same style. They are both dated on art-historical grounds to the 7th century and while a consensus seems to be gathering in support of a later 7th century date, it remains theoretically possible that the specimen from Bobbio was carried personally by Saint Columbanus, who left Ireland around AD 590 and died at Bobbio, the last of his monastic foundations, in AD 615.

Detail of the surface (photographed using USB microscope) showing hand-cut curvilinear lines and cross-hatching.

Detail of the surface (photographed using USB microscope) showing hand-cut curvilinear lines and cross-hatching.

Detail of cross-hatched field above the crystal ‘window’ showing surviving traces of enamel. We think that this is probably red enamel, which tend to degrade over time to a yellowish-green colour.

Detail of cross-hatched field above the crystal ‘window’ showing surviving traces of enamel. We think that this is probably red enamel, which tend to degrade over time to a yellowish-green colour.

The reason for the uncertainty in the dating of the Bobbio and Clonmore chrismal/reliquaries is that while sharing general traits with decoration on objects as diverse as the Derrykeigan stone, the Cathach and the Book of Durrow, it is surprisingly difficult to identify close insular comparanda.

The Clonmore Shrine (from Bourke 2009

The Clonmore Shrine (from Bourke 2009

Cormac Bourke is undoubtedly correct to draw comparisons with not just the vegetal styles of, for instance, the Beromünster and Tiel shrines, but also the layout of the ornament on these pieces: abstract though the ornamentation on the Bobbio and Clonmore objects may be, like the continental chrismal/reliquaries, it too is almost certainly guided by an iconographical scheme, though one that is much harder to see. Their shape, in particular their distinctive concave sides and roof-line, is also a characteristic of some early continental reliquaries (e.g. Ennabeuren, Wurtemburg), reinforcing the suggestion of some influence from there. Dating these two Irish examples as early as the late-6th or early 7th century might be problematic vis-à-vis the continental comparanda but should not be ruled out.

Detail of the surface showing the pointillé (carried out with a triangular punch) and some tool-slip in the curvilinear line.

Detail of the surface showing the pointillé (carried out with a triangular punch) and some tool-slip in the curvilinear line.

The Bobbio reliquary/chrismal has been recently re-assembled and was very kindly made available for examination by the project (Conor Newman and decorative metalwork expert Fiona Gavin) on June 23rd and 24th by Don Mario Poggi of the Curia Vescovile di Piacenza – Bobbio. It will be on display at the CREDO- Christianisierung Europas im Mittelalter exhibition in Paderborn (26 July – 03 Nov 2013 see: http://www.credo-ausstellung.de/).

Fiona Gavin (Dept. of Archaeology, NUIG) examines the chrismal/reliquary under microscope (x400 magnification) at the Vescovado, Bobbio.

Fiona Gavin (Dept. of Archaeology, NUIG) examines the chrismal/reliquary under microscope (x400 magnification) at the Vescovado, Bobbio.

Conor Newman and Fiona Gavin (Dept. of Archaeology, NUIG) at the Vescovado, Bobbio.

Conor Newman and Fiona Gavin (Dept. of Archaeology, NUIG) at the Vescovado, Bobbio.

A detailed account of the microscopic examination of the object will be posted here shortly. Perhaps the most significant discovery is the survival of enamel in the fields of cross-hatching and in some of the pointillé. Typical of decomposed red enamel, the traces are a greenish-cream colour.

An opaque white substance adheres to the grooves on one part of the piano hinge (the round end of the hinge-pin is also visible). Is this residue of some organic lubricant?

An opaque white substance adheres to the grooves on one part of the piano hinge (the round end of the hinge-pin is also visible). Is this residue of some organic lubricant?

Tiny blobs of enamel spill also occur on the tinned surface suggesting that the surface, including the curvilinear lines, was tinned before the cross-hatching was off-set against champlevé enamel. Originally, therefore, it would seem that the cabochon of crystal through which the relic might be glimpsed was surrounded by fields of marked reddish hue.

Signs of wear on one of the corners of the object, the bronze is worn thin and a hole has appeared.

Signs of wear on one of the corners of the object, the bronze is worn thin and a hole has appeared.

The object shows signs of considerable use and handling, the metal is worn thin in places, the back has lost most of its tinning; presumably from swinging to and fro across the chest of person around whose neck it was hung; and one of the corners is dented from a fall or impact.

Detail of the surface showing how the tinning has been worn away by use and handling.

Detail of the surface showing how the tinning has been worn away by use and handling.

A ‘piano hinge’ turns the gabled roof into a lid that opens and, as others have remarked, it too shows signs of wear. Though undoubtedly a venerable object, it was also in daily use and this suggests that it doubled as a chrismal (a container for consecrated host) and a reliquary.

Detail of the riveted tab on the right-hand end-plate used to attach the carrying strap. The circular perforation to the right of this is for a locking pin. Though missing in the case of the Bobbio specimen the Clonmore one was intact.

Detail of the riveted tab on the right-hand end-plate used to attach the carrying strap. The circular perforation to the right of this is for a locking pin. Though missing in the case of the Bobbio specimen the Clonmore one was intact.

Our thanks to Don Mario Poggi and Dr Eleonora Destefanis for all of their help. The research is funded by the Andrew Mellon Foundation and PRTLI4

Select Bibliography

Bourke, C. 1991 The Blackwater Shrine. Dúiche Néill 6, 103-6.

Bourke, C., Warner, R. and Ryan, M. 1991 From Blackwater to Bobbio―a coincidence of shrines. Archaeology Ireland 5(2) 16, 16-17.

Bourke, C. 1994/5 The early Irish Reliquary in Bobbio. Archivum Bobiense: Rivista degli Archive Storici Bobiense 16-17, 287-99.

Bourke, C. Ireland’s earliest Christian metalwork: the Clonmore Shrine. Minerva 12(6), 6-7.

Bourke, C. 2003 Clonmore and Bobbio: two seventh-century shrines. Dúiche Néill 14, 24-34.

Ryan, M. 1991 Decorated metalwork in the Museo dell’Abbazia, Bobbio, Italy. Jnl Roy. Soc Antiq. Ireland 120, 102-11.

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Excavations at Osor, Island of Cres, Croatia.

Over the course of a week between the 18th and 25th of May Dr. Emmet Marron of the Columbanus’ Life and Legacy project had the opportunity to take part in excavations being carried out on the Monastery of St Peter, Osor, on the Croatian island of Cres, following an invitation from the excavation directors Dr. Sebastién Bully of the CNRS and Dr. Morana Čaušević-Bully (formerly of the Universtiy of Zagreb, now of the École française de Rome).

Excavations at the monastery of St Peter in Osor by a combined French-Croatian team have been underway since 2006.

Excavations at the monastery of St Peter in Osor by a combined French-Croatian team have been underway since 2006.

Since 2006 this fascinating site has been the subject of intensive research by a combined Croatian-French team, attempting to gain an understanding of the earliest phase of the monastic settlement in this small island town in the northern Adriatic area of Kvarner. Although the monastery is well attested in textual sources from the 11th century, the team is examining the possibility that the foundation cited in the texts either reoccupied the location of an earlier, Late-antique monastery, or even that it may simply represent a continuation of the earlier settlement.

While the invitation undoubtedly allowed for the strengthening of the international collaboration with the bodies involved in the excavation, the similarities in the development of the earliest phase of the monastery and the common research questions that it shares with sites such as Luxeuil, Annegray and Bobbio (foundation in an inhabited Roman town, the lack of previous study of the earliest phases etc.) meant that it was also a wholly rewarding experience from an academic perspective. The opportunity to participate in such an excavation and gain insights from those carrying out the work was particularly appreciated, as it is not so often that researchers working on aspects of monasticism in the Post-Roman West are afforded the possibility to learn at first hand from researchers involved in other areas that potentially experienced the same dynamics and that can, as such, help to develop our research approaches.

Dr. Marron would like to thank both Morana Čaušević-Bully and Sebastien Bully for their kind invitation and for the warm and enthusiastic welcome afforded by both them and their team during the course of his stay in Osor. As with the work carried out in Bobbio the previous week, this fieldwork trip was made possible by the generous funding of the Mellon Foundation.

For more information on the results of the excavation at Osor see:

Morana Čaušević-Bully, Miljenko Jurković, Sébastien Bully and Iva Marić, « Le monastère Saint-Pierre d’Osor (île de Cres) : cinquième campagne d’études archéologiques », Bulletin du centre d’études médiévales d’Auxerre | BUCEMA [Online], 15 | 2011, Online since 26 March 2013, connection on 31 May 2013. URL : http://cem.revues.org/11941

Sébastien Bully, Iva Marić, Morana Čaušević-Bully, Miljenko Jurković, Damien Martinez and Christian Camerlynck, « Le monastère Saint-Pierre d’Osor (île de Cres, Croatie) : quatrième campagne d’études archéologiques », Bulletin du centre d’études médiévales d’Auxerre | BUCEMA [Online], 14 | 2010, Online since 26 March 2013, connection on 31 May 2013.

URL : http://cem.revues.org/11552

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Geophysics at Bobbio

Teams from the Columbanus: Life and Legacy Project and the Department of Archaeology at the Università del Piemonte (Vercelli) combined in a geophysical survey at various locations in the town of Bobbio (May) where Columbanus founded what is arguably his most famous monastery and where he died in AD615.

Dr Emmet Marron (Columbanus: Life and Legacy Project) and PhD student Nadia Botella (Università del Piemonte -Vercelli) carrying out resistivity survey adjacent to Castello Malaspina and overlooking the town of Bobbio.

Dr Emmet Marron (Columbanus: Life and Legacy Project) and PhD student Nadia Botella (Università del Piemonte -Vercelli) carrying out resistivity survey adjacent to Castello Malaspina and overlooking the town of Bobbio.

Arising from the on-going collaboration and common research interests developed around the subject of Columbanus and his legacy, NUI Galway has entered into a formal Cooperation Agreement with Università del Piemonte (Vercelli).

Dr Roseanne Schot (Columbanus: life and legacy Project) doing gradiometry survey in the Cathedral garden, Bobbio

Dr Roseanne Schot (Columbanus: life and legacy Project) doing gradiometry survey in the Cathedral garden, Bobbio

The results of the survey will be posted shortly. The work would not be possible without the generous funding of the Mellon Foundation and the organisational assistance of the Moore Institute.

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