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Calling all budding Archaeologists! 13 June 2008

The Rushen Abbey Archaeological digs in full swingThe protective covers are coming off at Rushen Abbey as archaeologists gear up for their annual excavations at the Island’s most important religious site. Archaeologists from the Centre for Manx Studies on behalf of Manx National Heritage, along with local volunteers will return to the Abbey site to continue their work building a fuller picture of what life was like for the people who lived in and around the Abbey during its time as a medieval monastery. The 2007 digs unveiled evidence of the later life of the structure of the Abbey as Allison Fox, Curator of Archaeology for Manx National Heritage, explains: “Slowly but surely we’re starting to get more of an insight into how people lived on the site at Rushen Abbey, both when it was a home for the monks and after it was demolished.

Finds of roof tiles and medieval glass have indicated that rather than being just demolished, the Abbey buildings were carefully and systematically dismantled – probably to reuse much of the material – Medieval recycling!

A finely-carved ear scoop discovered at Rushen Abbey in 2007We’ve also found some really interesting small examples of the everyday things used by people. The star find of last year’s excavation was a finely-carved bone “ear-scoop” – a very handy tool to remove unwanted wax! Artefacts like this really bring home the human element of what we’re looking at. It’s crucial to understand how buildings related to one another and at what periods they were built and went out of use, but finds like this serve to remind us that what we’re actually looking for is the story of the people who once occupied the most important religious site on the Island. Personal artefacts like this help us to “humanise” our history”.

This year, once again, all of the finds from the excavations will be cleaned, recorded and labelled on-site, so visitors will be able to see everything that’s come out of the ground.

The excavations will run from Monday 16 June to Friday 1 August 2008 and volunteer guides from the Friends of Manx National Heritage are on site most days to help explain the latest archaeological discoveries.

Rushen Abbey is a part of the award-winning Story of Mann and is open daily, 10.00am to 5.00pm. The standard admission charges of £3.30 for an adult, £1.70 for a child and £8.70 for a family ticket apply.

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