The Black Pig's Dyke Project

The Black Pig’s Dyke Regional Project

the black pig's dyke

Phase 1 of the Project

Phase 1 of the Black Pig’s Dyke project 2014 was funded by Monaghan, Roscommon, Longford and Cavan county councils in association with the Heritage Council. An interdisciplinary research team of archaeologists, historians, GIS specialists and geophysicists has collated a large body of new information on the linear earthworks of the core study area, comprising counties Cavan, Monaghan and Leitrim, and north county Roscommon, north Longford and south Donegal.

Phase 1 of this project has sought to bring some clarity in relation to the many questions that endure about their extent, morphology, chronology and purpose by unraveling historical myths around the Black Pig’s Dyke from archaeological facts, and by attempting to present specific interpretations for each individual monument. Notwithstanding the lack of empirical evidence available the analysis conducted so far by the project has allowed for interpretative advances to be made. It is evident from the research carried out to date that the linear earthworks can no longer be reduced to just one interpretation. With further research the unraveling of the enigma that is the Black Pig’s Dyke has the potential of unleashing many benefits including social, cultural, economic and academic at a local, regional and European level.  The full report of phase 1 of the project can be accessed here

Arising from the research compiled in phase 1 of the project, Archeology Ireland (a quarterly magazine aimed at both professional and non-professional readers) have produced a Heritage Guide, The Black Pig's Dyke—power lines in the landscape, which is available free to magazine subscribers. It is also available to purchase from the Wordwell website for €5.

The research will continue, in partnership with the Heritage Offices of Monaghan, Cavan, Leitrim, Longford and Roscommon, with Phase 2 of the Black Pig’s Dyke Project 2015 which shall be undertaken between May – Oct. 2015. The primary objective of Phase 2 will be to establish chronology of the earthworks associated with the Black Pig’s Dyke. This phase shall also seek to raise awareness through public talks, exhibition panels, user-friendly website and other media of the research findings to date.

Phase 2 of the Project 2015

Phase 2 of the research was carried out during 2015. Emphasis was placed on disseminating the findings of the research undertaken by this joint regional project this year, in order to raise the visibility of this unique project and the important earthworks known as the Black Pigs Dyke. A Heritage Guide was developed as detailed above. A new website was designed and populated with content, maps and images. Some public talks were held in Monaghan by the project archaeologist and others will occur in Counties Longford, Roscommon, Cavan and Leitrim in 2016. Research continued to establish chronology, using modern methods on samples held in Monaghan County Museum since 1986 including archaeobotanical analysis. Excavation sites for OSL dating were identified, procedures for licensing and export of samples to the University of Oxford undertaken. Additional fieldwalking in County Monaghan identified previously unrecorded stretches of the earthwork and new information was collected on the morphology of the monument and sections were chosen for possible excavations at a later date that might help illuminate construction methods. All in all it has been a very exciting year for the Black Pigs Dyke project.  The reports relating to the project work carried out during 2015 can be found here.

Phase 3 of the project continues in 2016.

This is the third year of the collaboration between Cavan, Leitrim, Longford, Monaghan and Roscommon Local Authorities, commenced in 2014 to work regionally and strategically on the Linear Earthworks in our area.   In 2016, the project will concentrate on public awareness at a local level to encourage stakeholder interest and engagement with the findings of the research element of the project so far.   Signage at key sites, leaflets and exhibition panels will be produced.  The project will dig deeper into the written and oral landscape of the Black Pigs Dyke, and engage the public with these stories. 

The steering group has agreed some medium term actions, which will require some preparatory work in 2016.  These are the publication of an archaeological monograph, an International Seminar, an experimental archaeological reconstruction of a linear earthwork, and models of sections of the BPD for the website.


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