Tuesday, 30 October 2012

more small adventures in Ireland

My obsession with ancient Ireland continues unabated. Our latest jaunt brought us to Mountsandel Fort (above) in Coleraine, near my hometown. Mountsandel is the oldest known inhabited site in Ireland with finds dating from 7900BC and it perches high on a rather picturesque bend in the River Bann. 
Excavations have shown that the site was continually occupied throughout every period of settlement in Ireland,  in the Mesolithic and Late Neolithic; as a promontory fort in the Late Bronze Age / Early Iron Age, as a motte in the 13th Century and as a fort, possibly an artillery emplacement, during the 1641 Rebellion.
Today it is largely forgotten about, bar the odd local out walking their dogs.
This is another really fascinating ancient earthwork which I'd never heard of until recently, despite being only about ten miles from my hometown - it blows my mind just how many remnants of our celtic ancestors there are scattered about this country, if you only know to look for them.
The earthworks are known as the Lissanduff Circles and take the form of two pairs of concentric rings (raths) dating from the early Bronze Age. The main rath would have been a large standard enclosure used as a fortified home for people and animals, these were built in defensive locations to offer maximum protection from raiders.
The farthest set of concentric banks are more intriguing, they are oval in shape and have a water spring at their centre. Archaeologists have discovered that non-porous clay was used to line the banks of the oval in order to create a deep pool of water, which would have been used for water rituals.
The raths (or the 'Dark Fort' as it is known locally) sit just behind the beautiful beach and sand dunes of Portballintrae. We visited on a particularly 'refreshing' day! 
And lastly, a small wander through Downhill Forest where we discovered that Autumn has well and truly set in round these parts and indeed winter doesn't feel too far off. Alas I fear my beautiful new bell tent that I recently bought may have to lie in storage until next year. 
Where have you been adventuring?

Thursday, 18 October 2012

wedding brooch bouquet

This summer past was all about weddings for me - either attending them, photographing them or making things for them. And so here are some pictures of a brooch bouquet I made for a friend from my hometown who got married in very the same chapel that Danny and I did.
She gave me some brooches to include that had belonged to her mother and mother-in-law and some pendants that were hers from childhood including a celtic cross and a hurley stick. A really sweet touch was to put photos from the two parent's weddings into a little locket hanging from the handle of the bouquet. I think I'll steal that idea for again.
I also made the beaded headpiece you can see here which had three strands in front and three at the back. Again this was Jane's idea and she gave me the brooches to incorporate, but it's something I'd love to try again and was surprisingly easy to make, especially considering the exorbitant prices they charge for these things in bridal shops.
The only problem with working in the wedding industry though is that it always makes me wish I could get married all over again!