Friday, 28 March 2014

Reconstruction of Viking house and garden, National Botanic Gardens, Dublin


Construction of Viking house (image from National Botanic Gardens)
I am a member of the team who is currently reconstructing a Viking house and garden at the National Botanic Gardens, Dublin. Our project involves archaeology and botany experts from the Botanic Gardens, UCD School of Archaeology and Dublin City Council. To mark the millennial anniversary of the Battle of Clontarf – which took place nearby in 1014 – a reconstruction of a Viking house is being built at the Botanic Gardens, modelled on excavated examples from the Hiberno-Norse settlement at Fishamble Street, Dublin. An adjacent garden will showcase the many plants of Viking Dublin, based upon evidence from archaeobotanical studies. 

The house will be built from oak, ash and hazel. Construction of the building is now underway, led by Eoin Donnelly, an experienced craftsperson who is using traditional skills and tools. Eoin’s preparations for the project were recently filmed in his workshop in Co. Wexford.

The building will act as a classroom for the Botanic Gardens’ education programme, introducing people to life in Viking Dublin, how archaeological evidence is gathered and understood, and the sustainability of organic-built structures. 


Archaeological excavations at Fishamble Street revealed a rich record of plant remains, most of which were preserved by waterlogging. Based upon this evidence, I am providing expertise on appropriate plants for the reconstruction garden. The garden will highlight the variety of flora that could have been observed by a visitor to Viking Dublin, including cereals, legumes, fruits, nuts, other wild plant foods and urban weeds.

Further information on archaeobotanical analyses from Fishamble Street can be found in Dr Siobhan Geraghty’s excellent study, which can be purchased via the National Museum of Ireland. 

Lecture series

Members of the project team will be presenting lectures during April to June 2014 at the Visitor Centre in the Botanic Gardens. The lectures will examine archaeological evidence for the Viking town, houses, living conditions and foods.

I will be presenting a lecture on Wednesday 23rd April at 3pm entitled “Food in Viking Dublin”, where I will examine evidence from archaeological excavations for the wide variety of wild and cultivated plant foods in Viking Dublin.

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