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Exciting Finds at the Rushen Abbey Excavations 2 September 2005

    This year’s archaeological excavations at Rushen Abbey have come to an end with some intriguing discoveries being made. Digging near the heart of the Medieval Abbey complex, archaeologists from the Centre for Manx Studies and the University of Liverpool came across some interesting and unexpected finds. Bone Die

    Manx National Heritage Curator for Archaeology, Allison Fox said:

    We were digging in the Medieval layers of the Abbey – particularly from the time when the Abbey was demolished in the 1500s. So the artefacts that were found can be firmly dated to this time or earlier. Most people know that monasteries were centres of learning as well as religious ones and this year we found the remains of metal book mounts. These would have either held big Medieval manuscripts together or would have been used as decoration, but also to protect the edges and corners of the scripts. We also found a Medieval stylus. This is a Medieval pen, used to write in wax. Again, it was very exciting to find actual physical evidence that the monks were writing.

    We found lots of Medieval roof slates, some of which look as if they were imported from Wales especially for use at Rushen Abbey, along with some fragments of quite upmarket French pottery – all of which show that the Isle of Man was by no means isolated after the influence of the Vikings had subsided.

    One find that did surprise us, however, was a very small bone die. One very similar was found during the excavations at Peel Castle a few years ago. But to find one in the surroundings of such an austere and spiritual environment as a Cistercian Abbey does make us wonder what the monks, or their guests, were really getting up to!

    The excavation area has now been covered over to protect the remains for the winter and all the finds are being processed and catalogued.

    Rushen Abbey remains open as part of “The Story of Mann” until 30th October 2005 from 10am to 5pm daily.

    Image: Bone die found at Peel Castle, similar to the die found at Rushen Abbey.

    2nd September 2005

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