October 2010

The initial phase of the fieldwork entailed exploratory prospection in the area surrounding the earlier excavated church remains, primarily to ascertain whether a curvilinear feature evident on one side of the remains was present all the way around and as such could have constituted a circular enclosing feature similar to those found on early Irish monastic settlements. The survey was carried out using two Bartington Grad601 fluxgate gradiometers, one a single sensor implement, the other a dual sensor allowing for greater ground coverage. Having found no trace of enclosure to sustain such a hypothesis, attention moved to the surrounding fields with the aim of covering as much ground as possible in the search for any features relating to the earliest monastery phase. The most notable discovery of this phase of the fieldwork was a large rectilinear enclosure, measuring 40m X 35m located to the north of the church site and of particular interest given Jonas’ assertion that Columbanus founded his first monastery in the ruins of an abandoned Roman fort. The data from the magnetometry suggested that the site most likely consisted of an outer bank and interior ditch, however given the potential importance of the feature it was decided to conduct further prospection on the site in order to better determine its organisation.

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