Excavations of a Cistercian grange at Bey More, County Meath

Now for something completely different!

While we hope to get back to excavating the cursus at Newgrange farm in the future, this summer (July 2019) Geraldine and Matthew Stout are exploring the remains of the thirteenth century Cistercian grange of Beaubec. Visitors and volunteers are all welcome.

Go to the Beaubec Excavation Blog site by following this link:




Newgrange Farm Excavations Published

Soon after the end of the excavation in July, Peter Connell, the editor of Riocht na Mide, contacted us about publishing our results in this prestigious journal. The report was duly published early in 2019 and you can read it by clicking on the link below:




Prehistoric date for Newgrange Cursus!

News just in! Stephen Hoper of the C14 lab in Belfast has just sent us the incredible news that a charcoal sample from the base of the outermost ditch of the ‘cursus’ dates to the Neolithic, most likely between 2632BC and 2472BC. The detailed report can be found at the end of this post.

Sample no.: UBA-38707

Radiocarbon Age BP 4034 +/- 33

% area enclosed cal AD age ranges relative area under probability distribution

68.3 (1 sigma) cal BC       2581- 2546 0.370

                                             2541- 2488 0.630

95.4 (2 sigma) cal BC        2832- 2820 0.018

                                              2657- 2655 0.002

                                              2632- 2472 0.980



Based on Eoin Grogan, ‘Radiocarbon dates from Brugh na Bóinne’ in George Eogan, ‘Prehistoric and early historic culture change at Brugh na Bóinne, Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy, 91C (1991), pp 105–32, pp 126–32.


Day 20 – Done and dusted

Now that the excavation is over, have a look-out for important future postings; a final environmental report, a full analysis of the flint from the site, the finished drawings and preliminary reports. In about six weeks we will have a C14 date that will confirm, once and for all, the date of this monumental structure.

The OPW kindly provided the machine- and man-power to fill in the cutting. We cannot adequately express out gratitude to all in the OPW! In this photo we see (from left) Tony Kelly, Peter Dooner, John (Kruger) Lennon, Matthew Stout (in OPW hi-viz vest) and Craig. Frank Taffe awarded the vest to Matt, making him an honorary OPW worker for the day, a great honour.
Panorama of the site being backfilled. David approaches on his quad-bike (photo: Helen Stout).


The month ended with this fine piece by Lise Hand in the Irish edition of the London Times. She brought together all the discoveries from this summer.

Basic RGB

Day 19 – The excavation ends

The ranging rod on the left rests on the flat bottom of the ‘great pit’, after as many stones as could be safely removed were taken away.
Post-ex begins! The work will continue after the digging stops. Here Penny Johnston shows a book on Cursuses. A lot of study of comparable sites in Britain and Ireland lies ahead.
OPW’s John O’Brien with his daughter Clare after their visit to the site. Here they can be seen with co-director Matthew Stout enjoying a cup of coffee at the Newgrange Farm restaurant.
Barry Drinan and Marie Bourke enjoying our end of excavation soirée in the lovely grounds of the Newgrange Farm picnic area.
The soirée from the west.
The soirée from the east.
Sporting the commemorative T-shirt are Mattison, Richard, Donal, Matthew and Sadhbh.
Enjoying the soirée are Fionbarr Moore, Caitríona Devane, Kieran Campbell and Liam O’Connor (seated).

Day 18 – Recording, recording, recording

The team has turned its focus to final recording of the pits and ditches exposed during the last few weeks. This is an extremely important phase of the excavation and will form part of the final report that will be produced on the results of the excavation. Once this section of the monument is back-filled this will form the main record of this portion of the site.  Matt welcomed colleagues from his college, DCU who interviewed and recorded work at the site. The research excavation at Newgrange Farm provides an insight into the kind of research which members of the DCU academic staff undertake over the summer. Lise Hand, journalist with the London Times (Irish edition) came on site to interview Matt about the excavation. Visitors to the site included Peter Dooner (OPW)  and Sarah Cummins with her husband Shane who generously spent most of the day sieving on site. We were also delighted to also see Clare Tuffy and Leonsha Lenihan of the Brú na Bóinne Visitors Centre who took time out from their crazy schedule to call in.

That evening, many on the excavation gathered at Tara for the last of this July’s Tara Lectures. The audience were treated to a novel and highly enjoyable analysis of the iconography of the Crosses at Monasterboice by Peter Harbison. Peter and all assembled thanked Clare Tuffy and her staff for organising and hosting the Tara Lecture Series.

Matt was back in the great pit after having had to face the reality that the stones at the bottom of the pit were not natural but were, in fact, fill. As many of the boulders were removed as possible, without endangering the structural integrity of the sides of the cutting. The digging out of the pit was extremely difficult and was made possible by the human chain of Craig and Tom who passed the fill up and out of the cutting. Some bone and clay deposits overlay the basal gravels.
Clare Tuffy and Leonsha Lenihan (top right) inspect the site. Mattison provides a guided tour of the excavation (centre top). Billy (with drawing board) finalises the section of the eastern side of the cutting.
Matt Stout getting ready for his close-up with Nicole Keohane and Daire Hall from the DCU Communications Office
Lise Hand (right) begins her interview with Jo Leigh. Lise writes for the Irish edition of the London Times. Lise has written an entertaining but hard hitting piece on the deplorable decision whereby history is no longer a mandatory subject for the Junior Cert. The link to her article is: https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/our-understanding-of-history-is-out-of-date-lg6ql8hn5?shareToken=df4ad167ce124642878559b2f9c75049
Sarah Cummins with her husband Shane sieving pit deposits.
A view of the admissions hut at the entrance of Newgrange Farm. To the right are the posters informing new arrivals of the archaeological excavation taking place nearby. As a result, hundreds of visitors have come to the excavation. They were usually met by Mattison who explained the excavation and invited the public to take part in the excavation through sieving material taken from the cutting. It was always a priority of this public funded excavation to welcome as many members of the public as possible.


DAY 17 – Colleagues visit

We have reached the bottom of the outer ditch and so the crew is dry sieving the last of the feature fill and sorting all the tools and equipment to return to the OPW. Our environmental archaeologist has processed all the environmental samples and is now doing painstaking microscopic examination for seeds and charcoal. The remaining finds have been catalogued and the drawing of sections and planning of the pits and ditches is in full swing. Jo Leigh, who discovered this great monument, kindly came back from her holidays to help us with the survey work. It was great to see so many colleagues from the National Monuments Service visiting the site as well as our friend Kate Sweetman with three of her French guests. There is a great sense of relief on the site that we achieved our goal for this season and should have all our work done before the site is back-filled at the end of the week.

After the cutting was finally emptied, Geraldine and Billy set about drawing the sections.


The cutting at the end of the day with National Monuments Service archaeologist Karl Brady.
Muirne was the hardest working person on the site today. She single-handedly sieved through the remaining fill of the ‘great pit’. Here she has her head down, focussed on the task.
Visitors to the site today included, from left: Anne Lynch, former Chief Archaeologist with the National Monuments Service. Kate Sweetman and her three French guests.
Earlier in the month we had Professor George Eogan visit the site. Today we had the man who worked with George for all but 1 of the 40 years of excavation at Knowth passage tomb. Liam O’Connor listens to Geraldine describe the site along with his nieces Noeline Fitzsimons and Liz Maguire.
Mattison gives a tour of the site to Michelle and Etna and at the right, Geraldine’s colleague in the National Monuments Service Margaret Keane with her husband Mohammad.
Linda Newe and her son Steve. Both dug with us at Bective in 2012. Linda was then a student at DCU. Now Steve is a third year student doing archaeology at UCD.