Thursday, 21 September 2017

Early Medieval Irish Evangelist Monk


Irish monks were of great importance in Europe during in the early middle ages. Most famously, they were one of the sources of reintroduction of classical knowledge back into europe, not the only source mind you, it also came via Spain from the Moors and  from Byzantium (the surviving eastern part of the Roman Empire). One of the reasons for this was the success of Irish monasteries, and that success came from what separated Irish monasteries from alot of those in the rest of Europe. Irish monasteries were places of learning (essentially the schools/universities of their day) and religious discipline, while alot of those in continental Europe tended to be just places of retirement and so were quite relaxed and undisciplined.

One of the most famous Irish monks for Europe was Columbanus, he traveled throughout Europe and received alot of patronage as he was essentially shaking up the monastic system to make them more like the Irish monasteries, places of discipline and learning. Him and other monks spread Irish monastic foundations throughout europe, in places like France, Germany (pangur ban was actually written here), England, Scotland(converting both these last to Christianity), Switzerland (the city of St Gall), Italy (Bobbio) etc.  Charlemagne actually also made a law that all monasteries had to provide free education to non monks, so an area of each monastery was used for this, creating the first real places of education in Europe (though obviously only a small minority of the population bothered with this). On a side note, its one of the reasons why the early Viking attacks were seen as so abhorrent at the time and what people often miss these days, its like if a modern army attacked a modern university, armed men picking on unarmed academics, not exactly a fair fight.

Why would the nobles and kings bother about supporting these new monasteries though? Well these were militaristic men and believed they were going to hell unless they did something, so if they could fund a school of holy monks in their area, and ones who are genuinely religious, they may stave off their eventual fate in hell. Also Irish monks were known throughout Europe for having the best Latin. This was because the Irish had to learn Latin as a foreign language, so in France, Italy or Spain, where Romance languages were evolving, when they read Latin, they would speak it in their own native way. Some of the leaders, believed one of the reasons for ill fortune at the time was because of these new evolving languages. As Professor Philip Daileader said, they believed god spoke Latin and so he could not understand these new languages, it sounded like a strange form of gibberish when they prayed to him. So one of the ways to make god understand them once more was to go back to how Latin was spoken originally.

As for the clothing of the figure, this is based on figural representations of monks in the book of Kells among other illustrated manuscripts of the time. The wrapping and folding of the cloak around the arms and neck, is my guess at what some illustrations from the books may have been, it probably would have been both a long cloak and stole of some sort. Also the designs in the cloak, both the small and large, are based on ones found in the illustrated manuscripts. The shoe is from one in the national museum, its location is not known but there are quite a few of these lovely shoes found from the time. Also note the little shaved bit on the chin, you often see this in early Irish manuscripts, not sure if anyone knows why they would have done this but its something peculiarly Irish from the time. Also the book he carries is based on one shown again in an early medieval Irish manuscript.

Thursday, 7 September 2017

Varangian Guard Illustration


The Varangian Guard were the elite of the Byzantine forces, the personal bodyguard of the Emperor himself but they have an unusual background. They were actually Vikings originally, they came down the Volga river and attempted to attack Constantinople itself, twice I believe. They were not very successful in the attacking of the city and the reason is found in the Norse word they had themselves for Constantinople, Miklagard, meaning the great city. Constantinople was gigantic in comparison to what they had encountered in mainland Europe, if memory serves me correctly, places like Paris and London were around 10-20 thousand at the time, while cities in the east were numbering in the hundreds of thousands, some even reaching a million.

While the Vikings weren't successful at their attempt at taking the city, they did impress the emperor, so much so he hired some as an elite fighting guard. After a while of seeing how good they really were, the Emperor made them them his person guard. They were known for their heavy drinking, brawling but also as great fighters and impossible to bribe.

These Vikings mostly came from the land of the Rus, which was an area the Vikings had settled along the great rivers there as a trade route to the East and Byzantium. Eventually these Rus, as the eastern Swedish were called, mixed with the local slavs to disappearing into their gene pool, but the name endured and is the origin of the name of the country, Russia.

For most of their history the Varangian guard were Norse or their Slavic/Norse descendants in Russia but in the later period Anglo Saxons joined the ranks, mostly from nobility who had lost out after the battle of Hastings in 1066. 

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Queen Arnegunde


Queen Arnegunde was a Frankish queen from the Merovingian Period, with impressive remains left over which they have been able to piece together what her probably clothing was like. Above is my take on her garments and the layout of her jewelry. More of the back story of Queen Arnegunde can be found in Wikipedia here:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aregund

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Viking Trelleborg Fort



Trelleborg Fort, also known as a Viking Ring fort, is a series of similar forts built around the 10th century in Scandinavia. There has been 6 in total discovered so far in Denmark and southern Sweden, the latest actually found in 2014 outside of Copenhagen, and placename evidence also suggests that there may be more out there yet to be discovered.

As mentioned they were all built in the 10th century, actually we can be even to be more precise than that, they were built around 980 AD, to be used for less than 50 years. Previous theories suggested they were built to train an army to reconquer lost Danish territories in England but now they are thought to be centres of royal power created to control provinces in the rising Danish Kingdom by King Harald Bluetooth.

 The name Trelleborg is from where the first of these forts found in Denmark, the largest was found at Aggersborg, sort of the same but multiply the number of houses and spaces. The Trelleborg fort is a circular fort broken into four quarters each with four longhouses, with probably enough space for about 50 people per longhouse, so quite sizable. They also show signs of far exchange especially from the nearly Slavic areas, so they werent just military fortifications but also had some function of exchange.


Friday, 14 July 2017

Friday, 7 July 2017

Attack on Indian Castle at Sunset



Been a while since I posted! Finally here is an image which I can show

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Hill of Uisneach Sketches


A bit of a behind the scenes here for the Hill of Uisneach image.

Usually before I work on the final for each image, I do a series of sketches, one of those stages, is a colour comp stage. This is where I play with different times of day/weather to get different light & colour options,  playing with different moods and feels for the site.

In this case the middle one was chosen by the clients as the plan was to include a fair or aonach in the image, so the darkness of the third sunset image above for instance wouldnt have been appropiate as people may injure themselves.

The final image can be seen here:

http://liniocht.blogspot.ie/2017/05/uisneach-early-medieval-royal-assembly.html

Monday, 22 May 2017

Hill of Uisneach- early Medieval Royal Assembly Illustration




A few months ago I was commissioned by David & Angela Clarke, landowners at Uisneach to create an interpretative illustration of the important assembly site at the hill of Uisneach in Co. Westmeath.The  archaeological direction was provided by Dr.Roseanne Schot & Uisneach tour guide Justin Moffatt. The illustration shows the Mórdáil Uisneach or great assembly at Uisneach during the early medieval period, The hill of Uisneach was known in the early middle ages as the navel of Ireland as it was believed to have been in the centre of the island. In the foreground you can see the figure 8 double embanked early medieval Rathnew Ringfort. On the rise beyond you can make out the mound of Carn Lúdach, from the bronze age and in the dip between it and the next slope you can make out Lough Lugh, named after the famous god Lugh in Celtic/Irish Mythology, whom the city Lyons in modern day France receives its name from.

Carn Lúdach, the mound in the background, was found with geophysical survey to have a 200 metre-diameter ceremonial enclosure surrounding it, probably dating from the Late Bronze Age or Early Iron Age (c. 1000–100BC). Traces of the enclosure ditch can still be seen at the time of the illustration. In the illustration you can also make out a temporary wooden platform from which nobles or the local king is speaking to the crowd beyond

As mentioned the ringfort is called Rathnew, it was a Figure of 8 ringfort, 90 m diameter, 2 banks with 1 ditch between, the Banks were revetted with the outer bank 0.8m high with the inner bank 1.7m high. Inside were 2 houses; the so-called Eastern House and the Western House, both of which were probably thatched. The south entrance to the ringfort was causewayed across the fosse, with stone revetment and metalled surface, flanked on either side by a row of stones, 0.3m in height. And in the larger ring of the figure 8, you can make out the remains of a circular enclosure from the Iron age, at the time shown it would have just been a slight line, as shown. There is also a souterrain which were used for storage of foods and the like during the early middle ages. A souterrain is a cave like artificial structure, which are often quite cool, so you can imagine, good fridges. There is also pens for some pigs and the prize bull of the lord inside the ringfort proper.

As mentioned Uisneach was the place of one of the most important assemblies in early Ireland and shown here is such an assembly. A fair or market would have been a major component of the assembly, with trading of various foods/goods sheltered by awnings or other temporary structures and a large drinking hall as well as tents belonged to some of the more important visitors like lords and their lesser retainers. During excavations they found the remains of at least five large dogs at Rathnew so some are shown here. The excavations also revealed evidence of bronze-working and iron-working at Rathnew, which probably took place in some kind of shelter or structure inside the ringfort as shown beside the smaller house. Finally also shown here are Cooking pits/fulacht fiaidh where they are roasting meat

As you can see Uisneach was a place of immense importance to the people of early Ireland with great ritual and social importance. The site still has alot of beauty with magnificent panoramic views, well worth  a stop as one explores ancient westmeath

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Moneen Illustration on the news!


The illustration I did of the teenage boy that died in Moneen cave 400-500 years ago, has just been featured on the national news, RTE Six One news-The report is about the book by Marion Dowd on the excavations carried out in cave which features the illustration, from time 34:43 on here:
http://www.rte.ie/player/ie/show/rte-news-six-one-30003249/10662643/#pos=2083 Its also been on the TG4, Ireland Irish language TV station, from 8:23 on here in the same report but in Irish: http://www.tg4.ie/en/player/home/?pid=5246405737001&teideal=Nuacht%20TG4&series=Nuacht%20TG4

Monday, 12 December 2016

Virtual Heritage Network Conference in UCC



An informative article and interview with Ronán Swan about TII and their work digitising their reports by Laoise Byrne-Ring for the just finished Virtual heritage Network Conference in UCC.. Kindly featuring some of my work in there too:


http://laoisebyrnering.com/digital-evolution/virtual-heritage-network-conference-at-ucc/

Sunday, 27 November 2016

Meitheal- Book on Raystown early medieval site


Meitheal Book- Raystown early medieval site A while back I was commissioned to do an illustration of an early medieval burial at Raystown for the then NRA. The book, written by matthew Seaver, will be launched on the 12th of December, at 5 pm at the Royal Irish academy, 19th Dawson st, Dublin if people want to swing by and pick up a copy. NB: I did an interior illustration, the cover, shown here, was done by the very talented Simon Dick It can also be purchased online here: http://wordwellbooks.com/Raystown

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Moneen Cave Commissions



16th/17th century boy

Bronze Age ritual

The book 'Archaeological excavations in Moneen Cave, the Burren, Co. Clare' by Archaeopress has just been released which has commissioned illustrations by myself inside. As written on the back of the book about the cave:

"In 2011, cavers exploring a little-known cave on Moneen Mountain in County Clare in the west of Ireland discovered part of a human skull, pottery and an antler implement. An archaeological excavation followed, leading to the discovery of large quantities of Bronze Age pottery, butchered animal bones and oyster shells. The material suggests that Moneen Cave was visited intermittently as a sacred place in the Bronze Age landscape. People climbed the mountain, squeezed through the small opening in the cave roof, dropped down into the chamber, and left offerings on a large boulder that dominates the internal space. The excavation also resulted in the recovery of the skeletal remains of an adolescent boy who appears to have died in the cave in the 16th or 17th century. Scientific analyses revealed he had endured periods of malnutrition and ill health, providing insight into the hardships faced by many children in post-medieval Ireland. "

One of the 2 illustrations I did, show the adolescent boy from the 16th/17th century who was found in the cave. He had a head of a normal 14 year old but the body of a younger child because of various periods of malnutrition. It seems he crawled into a hole in the cave to die, an end to probably quite a sad and miserable life. The 16th/17th centuries being such terrible periods of Irish history with the Tudor conquest of Ireland, various rebellions and plantations, you can well imagine the kind of hardship suffered by the normal people in the time.

The other illustration shows the Bronze Age activity, which showed signs of being used ritually. It seems either a person or people left offerings ontop of a large boulder inside, which may have been some kind of altar. Here its interpreted as a female shaman of sorts who was doing the ritual depositions and that the offerings were done facing out, rather than inwards. Its probable that someone like this would have done the depositions on behalf on the community and could well have spent days inside communing with whatever spirits or gods etc they had.

The facinating book is available in archaeopress here:

http://www.archaeopress.com/Public/displayProductDetail.asp?id=%7BB8BFC143-BDC3-49B7-A10A-BF57560394D3%7D

And the book is being launched at Hylands Burren Hotel, Ballyvaughan on Friday 9th December 2016 at 7 pm, its free and will feature a lecture by Dr Brendan Dunford, Burren Programme. all are welcome

Sunday, 20 November 2016

Walking the snow covered Comeraghs










I went for a sketch walk with fellow sketchers yesterday, what a great day for a hike!

Friday, 4 November 2016

Irish Cottage Interior





Continuing on from my earlier images of the exterior of a 19th-20th Century Irish farm cottage (shown here: https://goo.gl/YMPdRb). I actually enlarged the house after further research showed me that they were often this size rather than smaller. Cottages of the time usually contained a living room with a fire, a bedroom and a parlour.

The bedroom was often behind the wall with the fire so the heat could spread there and sometimes had an upper loft for more beds with a small window. The Parlour was a room that was left untouched unless they had guests or the priest visited, the usual living was done in the living room by the snug fire. 

Saturday, 15 October 2016

Rathcroghan illustration in the Irish times


I was commissioned by the Roscommon County Council a few months back to do an illustration of Rathcroghan, one of the ancient Royal sites of Ireland. Today it was just featured in the national newspaper Irish Times in an article about the site. The article itself can be found here:

http://www.irishtimes.com/culture/heritage/researching-rathcroghan-the-tara-of-the-west-1.2828490

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

19th Century Irish Rural Woman



Continuing on from the earlier Irish cottage illustrations, here is one of the women shown in the last image. Her character design is a combination of some reading and alot of visual research into clothing at the time, good thing about this period is there is loads of photographs in the late 19th-early 20th century of Irish women.

And yes, in case you find the pipe smoking hard to believe, there is a rare photo of a woman smoking from back then, so threw it in as I thought it fit her character nicely. The second imager is front, back and side of the same character.

PS it wasnt done for #Inktober's #Inktober2016 but it is in ink, so its the right month for it :)

Monday, 26 September 2016

Sketches from Ring of Kerry

Cill Rialaig Artist Retreat- a restored famine village on Bolus head, now used as an artist retreat

Just a sketch playing with drawing from imagination

Was off sketching around the ring of Kerry over the weekend, where me and several other artists from the sketch group 'Sceitse', rented a house on Kells Beach. We spent a few days sketching while hanging out, exploring and having a laugh, great times! 

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Tomb Robber


Just a little sketch, playing around with brushes

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Irish Cottage Sketch




A design sketch of an 19th-20th Century Irish farm cottage.

The sketches around it show my process, from little thumbnail sketches in the upper left, to orthographic views (front & back) in the upper right and the final perspective drawing centre.

Though I often do the orthographic drawings in pencil after the little thumbnails and change them once i have finished the final perspective drawing as I usually change the design when Im doing the perspective image and need to re-edit the orthographic images to match.

Thursday, 1 September 2016

Warmup/practice sketches



Some daily warmup/practice sketches from today

Friday, 12 August 2016

The Great Pyramid of Giza- Illustration of the funeral of Khufu




The Great Pyramid of Giza is one of the most famous places on earth and in many ways was the pinnacle of Pyramid building. What is surprising though is this wasn’t the result of long years of trial and error or the end of an era but the result of an explosion of invention that occurred within a few generations, between the creation of the first and Khufu’s, a period of only 60 years past. This explosion in technology that happened in the 27thCentury BC in Ancient Egypt, lead the Egyptians to make a huge leap forward in building, that was unparralled for many millennia after. In fact the great pyramid was the tallest building on earth until the building of the Eiffel tower in Paris nearly 4 thousand years later.

As you may guess, originally Egyptian Pharaohs weren’t buried pyramids, but in Mastabas, which were slanted subterranean single story rectangular tombs. It wasn’t until King Djoser, around 2680 BC, that the architect Imhotep had the great idea to start putting one Mastaba ontop of the other. This idea, which created a step pyramid, was to be the start of a long line of pyramids stretching thousands of years. The next great builder of pyramids was Sneferu (2613-2589 B.C.), creating the first true pyramid as he filled in the steps to create the familiar angular shape we know today as pyramids. It was his son though, Khufu (2589-2566 B.C.) who was to create the largest pyramid the world would ever know (around 147 meters). Khufu’s son Khafre was to build the second largest (only 10 meters shorter), this shortness he made up for by building the Sphinx(apparently one of the largest statues in the ancient world). Finally there was one more in the triad of the Pyramids at Giza, which was built by Menkaure, Khufus grandson, which was also the smallest (66 metres). After this the Egyptians started making smaller and smaller pyramids and never again would such large pyramids ever be built.

The illustration shows the great pyramid at around the time of the funeral of Khufu. The great pyramid of today is more yellow but thats because of the removal of outer encasing of white Tura Limestone, which was re-used for mosques in the middle ages (a similar thing happened to Roman buildings in Europe for churches). It must have been an awe inspiring sight at the time though, a bright shining white gigantic pyramid surrounded by desert, many jaws must have dropped. There are a few theories as to why the pyramid shape (besides the practical one), it could have been based on rays of sun or a stairway to heaven for the pharaoh’s soul, or as the Egyptians also believed the mound was the shape the world was as it rose from the primeval waters so could this artificial mound be echoing the same. Unlike what the movies tell us, it was Egyptian Farmers who built the pyramids, not slaves, in fact the Egyptians had very few slaves. During certain times of the year when the farms were flooded by the Nile, the farmers would build the pyramid as a sacred duty on their time off, this would have taken many many years as you can imagine! There is a reason as well that the Pyramids were built in desert areas as to the west of the Nile was desert, which were barren but it was also where the sun set, so believed to be the land of the dead by the Ancient Egyptians.

At the base of the great pyramid you see an enclosing wall made of the same white Tura Limestone, this was transported many miles and across the Nile to Giza. Attached to the enclosing wall is the Mortuary temple, before the Pharaoh died he set aside lands for the maintenance of a community of priests, whose duty it was to maintain this temple and provide offerings for the dead Pharaoh long into the future. Attached to this in turn is the causeway that was for the procession carrying the body of the Pharoah from the Valley temple below to the Mortuary temple shown here. The Valley temple was at the Nile itself, it was here they deposited the body via boat from the western side of the Nile, where all the cities were. They are not sure as to the purpose of both temples, but the Valley temple may have been used to mummify the Pharoahs body before it was transported via the causeway, while the Mortuary temple was where other rituals may have taken place, and afterwards, where offerings were left to Khufu.

You can also see 4 smaller pyramids at the great Pyramids base; 3 of these were the queen tombs, one may have been for Hetepheres, mother of Khufu, another for his queen Meritetes, and another to Henutsen who was his 2nd or 3rd wife. Each of these queen pyramid’s, also had small chapels, which like the mortuary temple of the pharaoh were for offerings to be made to them. Only found recently, but behind these queen pyramids is a 4th smaller pyramid that was for the Pharaohs’ ‘Ka’, something similar to a soul or a spirit. Around these you will notice a myriad of smaller structures, these were the aforementioned Mastabas, after the Pharaohs started being buried in pyramids, the mastabas were still being built for officials and the upper class. There are many more mastabas at Giza now, but what is shown here are the ones believed to have been built at the same time as the pyramid itself. One of the people buried in the mastabas is Kawab, the eldest son of Khufu. Actually one theory is that the mastabas closest to the small pyramids were the sons of the associated queen. Another person of note buried in one of the mastabas is Hemiunu, who may have been the architect of the Great Pyramid itself, he was buried in a mastaba near the pyramid.

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Kilmallock historical Map

A few months ago, I did a map of Kilmallock town in southern Limerick for Abarta Audio Guides. What you see here is just the base, more information, a background etc were done ontop by others. Twas a great commission though, as I have known about Kilmallock for a long time and as a town with so many great historical sites, it deserves way more fame and tourism than it gets. So was glad to do my part to help make that, hopefully, happen.

I just did what you see here, more information, a background etc were done ontop by others. So this is essentially just the base of the map

Closeups of some of the drawings in the map

Monday, 11 July 2016

Adopt a monument Scheme

Round Hill Motte & Bailey, now overgrown with trees, but you can see how huge it is


Various photos of myself (in blue) getting some handson experience with Geophysics
Yesterday I helped out the remote sensing survey of Round Hill outside Lismore, a very impressive Motte & Bailey (which may even be a late medieval conversion of a pre-historic hillfort!). Had fun getting some handson learning of some of the techniques of geophysics. Check out the great Adopt a Monument Ireland scheme, they are doing some amazing work around the country trying to reconnect communities with their local heritage and take responsibility of them. Give them a like and your support! https://www.facebook.com/AdoptaMonumentIreland/


Thursday, 30 June 2016

New Ross Library Workshop









Photos from my workshop in New Ross library yesterday, where I was teaching drawing basic geometric volumes and how they interact with light. Impressive results and a lovely group of people to help out!

Monday, 25 April 2016

Sketching at UCD Experimental Archaeology Centre

Mesolithic House in UCD

Early Medieval Beehive house

My pen and marker sketches done while at the UCD experimental archaeological centre on Saturday