The Boyne Valley in Ireland, like Westeros, is a land that is steeped in fantastical history. It has everything from prehistoric mounds to stone castles to medieval town walls. Archaeologists are drawn to it, while the rest of us wait to see what the new season will uncover. There is the same anticipation for a new season of Game of Thrones, and this is what inspired us to celebrate the work of the archaeologists for this years’ Day of Archaeology. Well, to be honest, we had a lot of fun last year, so we wanted to do something again. It is a great way of getting the public to interact with archaeology and to imagine what might have been.
We put the call out that we wanted to do a Game of Thrones inspired trailer based on the archaeology this year. We already had access to the type of prime locations that Hollywood scouts would love to get their hands on. All we needed was permission from the archaeologists again, some willing bodies with an uncanny resemblance to the series characters, a few creative types and fabulous costumes from the local living history group. Oh, and sunshine, in Ireland. Thankfully, we got what we needed and the result can be seen below.
But what about the archaeology that inspired it? This year, after a few seasons of remote sensing, excavations started at the multivallate earthworks on the Hill of Ward in Meath. Known as Tlachtga, this site is associated with Irish Halloween folklore and pre-Christian fire rituals. It was also the site of a murderous parlay between Gaelic and Norman lords which changed the balance of power in Medieval Ireland. The excavations were carried out by UCD School of Archaeology. This generated a lot of curiosity and it has put another fantastic site on the map for people to visit.
This year also saw the return of the Irish Archaeological Field School for their fifth season of excavations of a 13th century Dominican friary under waste ground in Trim known as the Blackfriary. This is uncovering more foundations of the friary, lots of medieval artifacts and more burials. The local community are welcome to visit the site and open days will be happening during the Summer. There is even talk about reclaiming the site to turn it into a public gardening area.
Other areas that feature in our parody are Trim Castle, (one of the finest Norman Castles in Ireland and subject to numerous seasons of excavations over the years), Newtown Cathedral and the medieval town gates of Trim.
Special thanks to the archaeologists who let us film during excavations and to all the locals who played a part. Did you recognise them?