Creative Ardagh: King at the Back of the Hill traditional skills weekend

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Creative Ardagh: King at the Back of the Hill traditional skills weekend

The Viking group. There will be Viking traditional skills and workshops on offer at the weekend.

Everybody knew there was a King at the Back of the Hill in Ardagh so it came as no surprise to locals when a skeleton of noble origin was found buried in King Máine's fort during the excavation by Liam de Paor in 1967.

Máine, son of Niall of the Nine Hostages ruled South Teabhtha and his fort was one of great importance at the time of St Patrick's arrival in the midlands.

After the excavation the finds from the dig at the Back of the Hill were recorded and left in the National Archives undocumented until Adel Coleman, an archaeology student in UCC chose it as the topic of her Masters thesis. At that time the skeleton was missing but has recently been rediscovered and Adel is still investigating.

This living history weekend, starting at 12pm July 14 and 15, plans to take visitors back in time to the era of the Fort of Máine in late Iron Age and Early Christian times, the era of Celts, Saints, Scholars and Viking invaders. Entrance is €10 for adults for one day or €15 for both days (excludes workshops) this includes tea and coffee and all children go free.

Significant finds at the Back of the Hill fort included evidence of weaving and metalworking, a beautiful penannular brooch, glass beads, bone comb fragments and a stone incised with a cross.

Life at the fort was busy for the residents whose occupation spanned several hundred years and we hope to give a flavour of this through living history displays, demonstrations and workshops.

We are delighted to be able to offer a guided tour of the fort itself on Sunday July 15 at 3pm thanks to the generosity of landowner Micheál Keegan. A talk on the history and importance of the settlement will precede the visit at 2pm.

We are excited to welcome Jodie from Living Legacies Ireland who will let you try your hand at wool weaving, and hear about what life was like during the Iron Age.

Did you know there were marriage and divorce laws in the Iron Age? Or that iron was more valuable than gold? Find out about this and much more with 'Living Legacies Ireland'.

Michael Moylan is a fountain of history knowledge, join him on Saturday 14 to try out ancient weapons and see if the armour fits. Irish History Live brings the museum to you with real artefacts from Bronze Age to Viking times.

Evidence of Viking trade has also been found in the Ardagh area by archaeologists and we will be invaded by the Jofur Dregin (Boar warriors) band of Vikings on both days. As well as setting up traditional tents, showcasing their wares, demonstrating and sharing their fighting tips with new recruits we have a number of Viking traditional skills workshops on offer. These must be booked in advance through the website kingatthebackofthehill.blogspot.ie.

Try your hand at Nalbinding (€25) and Haithabu bag making (€50) with Aneta or create your own combat-ready shield with Bartek over the two days (€200).

Tracy from Hazelrocks Jewellery joins us for a half-day workshop at 10am on Saturday July 14.

During this workshop you get expert tuition and learn all the skills necessary to create your own beautiful Tree of Life pendant from precious stones and wire (€55).

No experience necessary. Everyone will have their own gemstone tree of life to bring home.

Ann and Annette from Creative Ardagh will help you create a clay model fort (free with paying adult) on Saturday 14 and guide you through the process of wet felting (€15) on Sunday 15, an ancient craft that predates all other textile crafts.

Prices for all workshops are per person and include tuition, all materials and tea and coffee as well as entry to the other events (excluding other workshops). Light lunch is included with shield making. Booking online is essential for all workshops.

This promises to be a very memorable weekend so come along and time travel with us.