October 2019 marks the 850th anniversary of the construction of the oldest Anglo-Norman fortification in Ireland located at Carrig, nowadays known as Ferrycarrig, by the western side of the River Slaney, just outside of Wexford town. To honour its heritage and explore its deep past an international conference titled the Carrig 850 Conference, will be hosted at the site on Friday and Saturday, October 18th and 19th.
The Carrig site was built from the autumn and winter of 1169 by Robert Fitzstephen, one of the first knights to land at Bannow Bay, making Carrick the oldest known Anglo-Norman fortification in the country. In 2018 The Irish Archeology Field School and Irish National Heritage Park teamed up to commence an investigative excavation of the site which will continue for 10-plus more years; so far evidence for a possible ‘chapel’, wooden castle and stone hall have been uncovered, while a town of ca. 110 houses are also known to have grown around this settlement.
The upcoming conference is being hosted by the Irish Archaeology Field School, Irish National Heritage Park and partners and features over 20 expert speakers who will take part in the two-day event. The conference will feature talks like, Carrick castle and how it fitted into the strategy behind the Anglo-Norman invasion of Ireland by Prof Terry Barry emeritus Professor in Medieval History with the History Department of Trinity College Dublin and Capturing Carrick – a digital approach to constructing and deconstructing the modern and relict landscape by Dr Michael ‘Bodhi’ Rogers, Chair and Professor of Physics at the University of Colorado, Denver. A zoo archaeological workshop, one of several such workshops, will be led by Dr Fiona Beglane, a zoo archaeologist at the Institute of Technology, Sligo, who specialises in the analysis of animal bones from excavations.
The conference explores the entire history of the Carrick site, not just it’s medieval beginnings. 2019 is also the 165th anniversary of the beginning of the Crimean War. The Round Tower memorial at Ferrycarrig is the largest Crimean War monument in Ireland and was built during a difficult period in Irish history. Its construction involved a certain amount of controversy and still does to this day. On this very topic, a talk will be led by Derek O’Brien of The Irish National Heritage Park.
Speaking of the upcoming conference organiser Dr Denis Shine says; “This site is one of the most important Anglo-Norman sites in southeast Ireland, and the construction of the ringwork, at the start of the Anglo-Norman Invasion of Ireland, helped to set in place a series of key historical events. Two years after the competition of this site, King Henry II visited Ireland, commencing a constitutional relationship which resonates to this day. This conference will explore the huge impact that all these key events had on Ireland. We are incredibly excited to be celebrating the site’s 850th anniversary, and that of the coming of the Anglo-Normans to Wexford and Ireland in general. This promises to be a unique conference with key expert speakers from across the globe, gathered together all in a very special setting.”
On both days of the conference registration takes place from 9 am at The Irish National Heritage Park visitor centre. The first day of the conference will focus on short presentations, from 15 key speakers, which will be followed by a keynote address by Prof. Terry Barry and the launch of the new publication, Carrick, County Wexford: Ireland’s First Anglo-Norman Stronghold. Day two of the conference contains six longer 90-minute practical workshops, focused on archaeological sciences. The conference is aimed at both enthusiasts and professionals, with the second day being especially suited to archaeologists or historians looking for some professional development.
Full conference details can be found at www.IAFS.IE