The story of our ancestors is written on the land

The mark of past generations is written on the land. Farming through the centuries has contributed to the development of  heaths and blanket bogs across much of the country. While grazing is the dominant use of most commonages today, other activities, even tillage as evidenced by the lazy beds to be seen on many hillsides were carried out in the past. As our teams are out surveying commonages we are coming across signs of past agriculture and settlement. Not all of these are on the sites and monuments record but they still tell a lot about the story of the land and its people.

The photograph above shows a millstone that was quarried out on a commonage on the Slieve Aughties, we did not discover it but it was pointed out to us by farmers and a local archaeologist. We don’t know how old it is, Where it was destined for is also a mystery, but the local stone appears to be particularly suitable for milling, it is hard and rough and would be slow to polish smooth through friction. Whatever its age or the reason for its manufacture, carving out this stone and transporting it was a laborious task.  Abandoning it must have been a big decision. Why did they do it ? Was there a flaw in the stone ? Was it damaged in some way ? Did the buyer refuse to pay for it ? The reality is that we will probably never have answers to these questions, but what we do have is an intriguing story about an industrial heritage on the commonage.