The Archaeology of Saint Patrick
Saint Patrick is renowned throughout the world as Ireland’s patron saint and is celebrated with various festivities on March 17th each year. He is indeed the most famous non-Irish Irishman! However, he did not banish snakes from Ireland and it is very unlikely he ever drank green Guinness! But who was he and where did he come from? Can his legacy be traced in the archaeological record? This talk will address these issues, drawing on both historical and archaeological resources. We will trace Patrick’s way through the country, highlighting some of the sites and stories associated with the man himself. We will also take a look at the excavation taking place in Downpatrick, County Down, famous for being the burial place of Patrick.
Brian is an experienced field archaeologist working with the Centre for Archaeological Fieldwork, Queen’s University Belfast for the last sixteen years. Since gaining his first Archaeological Excavation License in 2005, he has directed a number of excavations across the North of Ireland ranging from Prehistoric to Early Modern times. Brian is a specialist in the analysis of lithic artefacts, particularly those dating to the Mesolithic and Neolithic periods in Ireland (c. 7,000–2,000 BC). Brian has published a wide range of articles on both fieldwork projects as well as lithic assemblages recovered during excavations. Recently Brian has led the community-based investigations in Downpatrick, County Down, instructing fifty members of the local community in archaeological practice. The project investigated the Benedictine Abbey which occupied Cathedral Hill from the late twelfth century AD until the dissolution of the monasteries during Henry VIII’s reign in the mid-sixteenth century AD. In his down-time, Brian enjoys all aspects of Irish culture, particularly its music and mythology.