People who are interested in food often ask me what cereals were eaten in Ireland hundreds and thousands of years ago. One of my main research interests is archaeobotany, where we recover the fragmentary remains of food plants from archaeological excavations. Luckily for me as an archaeologist and archaeobotanist, if plant components are sealed beneath the ground in certain conditions, they can survive for thousands of years. If the plant components have become burnt (charred), for example, or kept in consistently wet conditions (waterlogged) or dry conditions (desiccated), then they can be preserved.
Bronze Age barley grain
Cereal grains are quite robust, so we often find them in soil samples taken from archaeological excavations. Based on my research and the work of colleagues, I will be presenting a talk entitled "Ancient Irish grains" to introduce archaeobotany and archaeological science to a wider audience. The talk will take place onThursday 25 January at a Slow Food Ireland event in Ballymaloe
Cookery School, east Cork, Ireland. The event is being hosted by Darina Allen, who is well known for her fantastic work in exploring and promoting Irish food cultures. I am really looking forward to engaging with the Slow Food community and the Ballymaloe team, and hearing their perspectives as growers and food producers.