a hallowe’en lecture in aberdeen

Last month, project PI Jessica Smyth was invited to speak at the Northern Archaeology Research Seminar Series in the Department of Archaeology, University of Aberdeen. The subject matter of the lecture ‘Molecule to Monument: the Passage Tomb People project‘ was particularly apt given the spooky date! There were lots of great questions about PTP from the students and staff assembled and some warm Aberdonian hospitality afterwards – all in all, a fantastic visit.

On a molecule hunt

In September, Passage Tomb People took to the road to collect the exceptional 4th millennium BC faunal assemblage from Kilshane, Co. Dublin. This enclosure site was excavated in 2004 along the route of the N2 motorway, revealing the remains of nearly 60 cattle deposited in the bottom of the enclosure ditch. Bone doesn’t survive very well in most Irish soils, so this is a truly remarkable site and will hopefully provide important insight into animal husbandry around the time the first passage tombs were being constructed. We will be building on the zooarchaeological analysis undertaken when the assemblage was first excavated, hunting for new molecular-level information still hiding in the bones and teeth.

Left: loading up the van. Right: one of the cattle skulls during excavation

Passage Tomb People at EAA 2018

Jessica was in Barcelona last week at the European Association of Archaeologists annual meeting, presenting Passage Tomb People to the wider archaeological community.


With nearly 3000 delegates and 4500 papers this year, EAA is one of the biggest archaeological annual conferences. Lots of fun and great to catch up with colleagues from different countries, but pretty exhausting at the same time!

Prof Michael Herity Memorial Lecture at Rathcroghan, Tulsk

Project PI Jessica (unofficially!) launched the Passage Tomb Project last Friday 24th August during Heritage Week at the Rathcroghan Visitor Centre, Tulsk, Co. Roscommon. She was invited to give the 3rd Annual Professor Michael Herity Memorial Lecture with a talk entitled ‘Passage Tomb People: seeking the monument builders‘.

Professor Herity (1929 – 2016) was a renowned archaeologist and Professor Emeritus in the School – then Department – of Archaeology at UCD. He had very wide-ranging research interests spanning the Neolithic to medieval periods, publishing in 1974 the book ‘Irish Passage Graves‘ (essential reading for our project!).