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Treasure from the Bog

TREASURE FROM THE BOG

Tuesday September 7th at 10:15pm on RTÉ One

RTÉ will air a unique documentary on an amazing archaeological find in County Tipperary.

The find reveals potential links between Irish Christianity and the Coptic Church of the Middle East.

On July 20th 2006, a remarkable archaeological find was uncovered in a remote bog at Faddan More, in north Tipperary, close to the town of Birr. Local man Eddie Fogarty was cutting peat with a mechanical digger when he spotted something unusual that looked “like some sort of book”. It would be heralded by Dr. Pat Wallace, Director of Ireland’s National Museum as “the most important day in the history of the Museum since 1868 when the Ardagh Chalice came in.”

The find - which has become known as the Faddan More Psalter - was a fragmented illuminated vellum manuscript encased in an unusual leather binding, a book of psalms dating back to the late Eighth century. This unprecedented find, the first manuscript to be found in a water-logged state in a bog, posed unique and profound difficulties for the Conservation Department at the National Museum.

At the time, Dr. Wallace went on to comment that “it is not so much the fragments themselves, but what they represent, that is of such staggering importance. In my wildest hopes, I could only have dreamed of a discovery as fragile and rare as this. It testifies to the incredible richness of the Early Christian civilisation of this island and to the greatness of ancient Ireland.”

Over the last four years, Crossing The Line Films has had exclusive access to the National Museum’s team as they embarked upon this dramatic and pain-staking journey of recovery and discovery. The documentary follows leading Irish book conservator John Gillis as he set about preserving and conserving this unique find.

As the process reached its conclusion, fragments of papyrus were dramatically discovered in the lining of the Egyptian-style leather binding. This potentially represents the first tangible connection between early Irish Christianity and the Middle Eastern Coptic Church. It is a finding that asks many questions and has confounded some of the accepted theories about the history of early Christianity in Ireland.

The documentary also travels across Europe and to the deserts of Egypt as they tried to uncover the story behind this perplexing and mysterious discovery.

The Faddan More Psalter will go on display in the National Museum of Ireland – Archaeology, Kildare Street in June 2011.

For more information please contact:

RTE – Sinead Harrington, RTÉ TV Press and Publicity Office, 01-208-2787 087-6669311, sinead.harrington@rte.ie

National Museum of IrelandAnn Daly, Marketing Department, National Museum of Ireland, 01 – 6486457; Mob. 087 – 2368067; E-Mail: adaly@museum.ie

 
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