Annual Volunteer Excavations Begin Again At Rushen Abbey, Isle Of Man

By 24 Hour Museum Staff | 13 June 2008
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photo shows a group of archaeologists digging in the sun

The Rushen Abbey archaeological digs in full swing. © Manx National Heritage

The protective covers are coming off at Rushen Abbey on the Isle of Man 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, explained.

“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," she said.

"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!"

photo shows a small screw-like object made from bone

A finely-carved ear scoop discovered at Rushen Abbey in 2007. © Manx National Heritage

"We’ve also found some really interesting small examples of the everyday things used by people," she continued. "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."

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.

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