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The Blessington demesne dog

Blessington Demesne Excavation 2022

Andrew Fairbrother- Site Supervisor, IAC

One of the dogs that will be studied by the Viking Dublin Dogs Project came from an archaeological excavation at a site in Blessington Co. Wicklow. The site is elevated and looks down into the village of Blessington and is surrounded by the scenic Wicklow Mountains. Our earliest evidence for human activity at the site comes from prehistoric pits that people dug about 4000 years ago during the Early Bronze Age and left charcoal and decorated sherds of pottery in them. Our site really took off during the Early Medieval period (AD400-1100) when a ringfort was built. It’s during this time that our dog was running around Blessington.

Plate 1: Aerial view of the excavation site with Blessington and the Wicklow Mountains in the background.

Our dog was found by Olivia, one of our archaeologists, in an archaeological feature. The feature, a shallow linear pit, was being dug to find out things like how big it was, how and why was it was dug, how it filled up and of course what kind of artefacts and animal bones might be in it!

Plate 2: Olivia, excavating and recording her feature.

We found out that the pit contained some charcoal and a small quantity of fragmentary animal bone including some cattle bones and the jaw of our dog! Now the dog bones have been washed and are waiting like a good boy to be analysed to find out more about their life living in Blessington looking out at the Wicklow Mountains.

Plate 3: Our dog bones bagged up and ready for analysis.

Plate 4: Our fragmentary dog jaw bones.


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