A NEW study revealing intricate details of the Ardess Old Graveyard, has a permanent place in the local community, following a talk on Monday night.
The study, by archaeology graduate Eoin Parkinson, from Lisnarick, was completed as part of his thesis at Queen’s University, Belfast, and he noted that it now allows the graveyard to be placed in the context of the wider story of the Plantation of Ulster.
“West Ulster has the earliest headstones in Ireland, brought over first by Scottish settlers during the Plantation of Ulster, and these early graveyards can be found dotted around the countryside with extreme geographical variation,” explained the 22-year-old.
“My thesis focused on Ardess Old Graveyard, where I surveyed all 448 memorials, examining the layout and spatial arrangement of memorials over time whilst also looking at the types of memorials and their decorative elements, before finally a focus on the history of some key family names attached to the site.”
Eoin is currently undertaking an MSc in Human Osteology and Funerary Archaeology at the University of Sheffield, and spoke to the local historical society at the Ardess Parish Hall on Monday.
“The extensive study has given an understudied subject the attention it deserves, with only two other sites in Ulster having been studied with this level of detail, allowing Ardess Old Graveyard to be placed in the context of the wider story of the Plantation of Ulster – one of the most significant chapters in Irish history.”
In total, it took Eoin around eight months, including three months surveying the site and five months of data analysis.
“The study found that character of these early graveyards is dictated by the nature of Plantation settlement in the area – with the area around Ardess being settled largely by English, it exhibits a remarkable mix of typically English and native Irish characteristics.”
He added: “Aside, the study provides a narrative of the site’s history and development from its earliest memorial in 1679 to its most recent in 2012.
“The thesis won me an award for the best final year dissertation and I was asked to present my findings to the Ardess Historical Society, so as a thanks to the congregation and local community I wanted to present them with a copy of the dissertation so that it can be referenced in the future and provide information for further study.”