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Online Video Series: Rediscovering Ancient Crafts

Replica Prehistoric Pots from the Museum's Handling Collection

These videos were recorded as part of the 2023 Bealtaine Festival, celebrating the arts and creativity as we age. During the month of May, the Education and Outreach Department at NMI - Archaeology hosted a series of drop-in workshops. During each of these drop-ins, experimental archaeologists showed and discussed replica artefacts that they made for the Museum's handling collection.

Rediscovering Ancient Crafts: Stone Age and Bronze Age pottery with John Martin

In this video, meet with John Martin, experimental archaeologist and potter, who will show replica pots from Neolithic and Bronze Age Ireland, which John has made from the Museum’s handling collection. John discusses how these pots were made, what materials were used, what tools people used in the past to make them, and what we know about them from the archaeological record.

John worked in Osteoarchaeology Department at Queens University Belfast for three years after retiring from a career in medicine. In the archaeology department, he became interested in prehistoric pottery after seeing a Bronze Age food vessel from Rathlin Island. He has now completed a collection of over 200 pots from the nine Ulster counties. 


Rediscovering Ancient Crafts: Early Medieval and Viking Leatherworking with John Nicholl

In this video, meet with archaeologist and leather specialist John Nicholl. John will show you some replica leather objects from Early Medieval and Viking Dublin. He will explain how people sourced and treated leather to make objects, and demonstrate the type of tools used by people in the past to make and decorate leather objects.

John has analysed and reported on a wide variety of archaeological leather assemblages from excavation sites in Ireland. The assemblages examined varied in date from the Early Medieval period through to the 19th century and included a wide range of everyday objects from shoes to bags and articles of dress.

Rediscovering Ancient Crafts: Early Medieval metalworking with Dr Brendan O’Neill

In this video, Dr Brendan O’Neill of UCD School of Archaeology, and UCD Centre of Experimental Archaeology and Material Culture will be talking about metal production in early medieval Ireland. Brendan shows a selection of brooches, along with the various tools and objects needed to make them, including moulds and crucibles. Many of these replica artefacts are based on finds from Garranes, Co. Cork, Lagore Crannóg, Co, Meath, and Dooey, Co. Donegal; all of the original artefacts are on display in the Museum’s Treasury exhibition.

Brendan is a lecturer in experimental archaeology and material culture with research interests including non-ferrous metalworking, iron smelting and early medieval domestic architecture. For over a decade he has been working on projects from the Neolithic to the medieval period exploring how people made and used objects as part of their everyday experience. 

Rediscovering Ancient Crafts: Ancient glass working with Dr Mags Mannion

For this video, Mags will be talking about the types of glass beads worn in Early Medieval and Viking Age Ireland, and the materials, tools and skills needed to create them. Mags will show a selection of replica beads based on those found during excavations at Irish sites which demonstrate the styles and decoration of the artefacts.

Dr Mags Mannion is an experimental archaeologist and glass specialist and teaches in the University of Galway. As a glass bead artist, Mags gives traditional bead making talks and demonstrations at a number of Heritage Week events each year.

Rediscovering Ancient Crafts: Introduction to Objects in the Handling Collection at NMI- Archaeology

Over the last decade, the number and range of objects in the handling collection of the Museum that is used during guided tours, events for families, schools and communities has continued to grow. New objects in the collection include beautifully decorated ancient pots, replicas of one thousand-year-old shoes, Viking glass beads, and moulds for making medieval Irish brooches. This short video of 3 minutes explores these additions to the collection, who made them, and how they increase our understanding of archaeology. It also discusses why Ancient Crafts was chosen as the topic for a series of events, as part of the Bealtaine Festival for adults, on the handling collection in May at NMI - Archaeology.

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