The Avondhu - By The Fireside
POSSIBLE INTERNATIONAL SIGNIFICANCE
a probable chest-girth or breast-collar.
The decoration of horse furniture such as this with heraldic symbols, was particularly popular in the 13th and 14th centuries, a date which is supported by the other finds from the well.
According to a spokesperson for Rubicon Heritage, the Caherduggan Peytrel is considered to be of national and possibly international significance due to the unusual nature of the object, the remarkable level of preservation of the leather and metalwork and the fact that so many of the decorative metal plaques are intact and still attached in their original positions.
“Similar examples of individual plaques have been recovered by metal detectorists as chance finds in both Ireland and the UK, but it is incredibly unusual if not unique to find a near-complete example like this.
“The heraldic motif of a Lion Rampant in Sinister (facing left) is also unusual as they would more typically face to the right,” a spokesperson said.
Office in Dublin investigated the origins but could not attribute the motif to a specific individual, although the style, form and nature of the peytrel and shoes, were all consistent with a date of the 13th-14th Century.
Leather specialist John Nicholl has also investigated the leather shoes which were discovered at the former Caherduggan Castle site and according to extracts from his reports, the shoes recovered are stylistically quite different and represent different stages in the evolution of medieval footwear.
“The earlier of the two which was found in the well, is typical of side-laced shoes and ankle-shoes of the twelfth and thirteenth century and similar finds have been recorded from various sites in Ireland such as Dublin, Waterford and Cork.
“However, while it is similar in style, it differs in function in being an indoor shoe with its closest parallel in London and is a rare example in an Irish context,” Mr Nicholl said.
Found in the enclosing ditch, the second shoe is equally as rare an example of the Irish medieval shoe according to Mr Nicholl, with previous examples of such being found in bogs.
The gaming die recovered from the medieval well consist of an 8mm six-sided bone cube with the numerals in negative relief and each number represented by a single dot surrounded by two circles.
According to archaeologist, historian and curator, Damien Shiels PhD, the small size of the die resulted in the manufacturer having some difficulty in uniformly fitting the dot and double circle design on each face of the piece and as a result, some overlapping occurs on the face for the number six.
“Despite this, given the die’s size, it is an impressive piece which provides an insight into the gaming/gambling practices of the medieval society at Caherduggan.
“The most common usage for dice in the medieval period was for various types of gaming, particularly games of chance which were enormously popular. Given the location of the Caherduggan die it would seem most likely that this example was being employed in medieval gaming and gambling on the site,” Mr Shiels said.
As infrastructure in and around the locality continues to develop, including greenway projects, road realignments, bypasses and the proposed N/M20 Cork to Limerick motorway, who knows what is yet to be uncovered?
While some of the secrets of Caherduggan Castle are out, similar artefacts await their uncovering elsewhere - it might just be a matter of time.
All the artefacts recovered during the Caherduggan excavations are held at the National Museum of Ireland (NMI) in Dublin.