I will have the pleasure of joining one of Ireland’s leading archaeobotanists (and EAI committee member), Susan Lyons to present on the topic of corn-drying kilns in Ireland as part of Transport Infrastructure Ireland’s programme of events for Heritage Week. This event will also include a demonstration on the function of the corn-drying kiln using the reconstructed example at The Irish National Heritage Park in Ferrycarrig, Co. Wexford.
Corn-drying kilns have garnered widespread attention from archaeologists, folklorists and historians alike because of their prevalence in the Irish agricultural landscape. These features have appeared in the archaeological record from as far back as the Late Iron age and survived in local traditions right up until near recent times where they were used in the illicit production of poitín (alcohol). By studying the macro-botanical remains (charred cereal grains and chaff and wood charcoal) that are often found in these excavated features, we can tell a lot about fuel selection and landscape management, diet, seasonality, and harvesting and processing activities carried out in and around the site. Through the assessment of these remains we can also see chronological and spatial variations in cereal selection which can in turn help us to validate historical sources available for certain time periods also.
Ferrycarrig is of great significance to corn-drying kiln technology as it is the site of experimental works carried out by Kelleher, who through her MPhil research, established a baseline for the understanding of the functionality of the kiln as a drier. Her extensive research was very instructive in my own research and I am very much looking forward to being on site for the day.
I don’t know how we are going to fit everything we know and love about them into an hour but we will try our very best. If you are free on the 21st of August, we hope you can drop by and see the reconstructed kiln in action and learn a bit more about Medieval and Iron Age farming practices and diet.
For more information about the Irish National Heritage Park visit their website, or social media accounts : Facebook and Twitter. Thank you also to Kelly Bernice for providing the photographs of the reconstructed corn-drying kiln at Ferrycarrig, Co. Wexford.