Our third week in Caherduggan was spent excavating sections across a large ditch or moat which surrounded the tower described in last weeks post. We could see this once we removed the topsoil as a dark line of soil which stretched across the site. We started digging out this darker soil or ‘fill’ and immediately noticed that there was an awful lot of stone included with the soil. This turned out to be the remains of a wall which was built into the side of the moat, designed to give added protection to the people living in the castle.
While digging out the soil that fills the moat we recovered lots of things that can tell us about the people who lived in the castle. We recovered pottery which we know was made around the 16th or 17th century. This lets us know that the moat was no longer needed by the 17th century and was filled in. Some of the pottery was made in England and on continental Europe which tells us that the people that lived in the castle were wealthy and could buy exotic objects from foreign lands. One piece of decorated pottery came from Germany! We also recovered lots of fragments of animal bone from the soil that filled the moat. One of our team is a specialist in animal bones. She will examine these bones and will be able to tell us what kinds of animals they come from and also what kind of meat the castle dwellers ate.
The moat was built around the tower in order to protect the people living in the castle. It was probably filled with water and the wall we found in it would have been much higher in the past. We think a bank was located behind the wall which would have allowed soldiers to stand behind it and still be able to defend against any attack.
We have dug three sections across the moat in order to record the soil that is filling it. Over the next few weeks we will be digging out the rest of the soil that fills the moat and hopefully will find out lots more about the people that lived in the castle and the kind of live s they had.
If you would like to learn more about archaeology why not have a look here. In Its about time 2 look at Theme 2 Living and Lifestyle, which includes information of the archaeology of defence.