‘Discovering St Aidan’s Monastery’ Preliminary Archaeological Excavation Report December 2021

Report Introduction

This interim report details the first season of excavations at Ferns Demesne townland in Ferns Co. Wexford by the Irish Archaeology Field School (IAFS), which took place in 2021 (specifically July-August). The site, located adjacent St Mary’s Abbey in Ferns Demesne, is in the private ownership of Mr Patrick Cousins and is a recorded monument (SMR WX015-003004-, WX015-003031-, WX015-003032-, WX015-003033-) protected under the National Monuments Acts. This site is a multi-period complex, originally founded by St Aidan c. the turn of the seventh century, which also contains early medieval crosses and cross slabs, a twelfth century Augustinian Abbey (St Mary’s Abbey, which is a listed National Monument), and a thirteenth century medieval cathedral (Edan’s Cathedral) within its wider confines.

The excavations were undertaken within the context of a larger research project, entitled Discovering Saint Aidan’s Monastery. This archaeological project is part-funded as part of a larger cross-border arts and heritage project linking North Pembrokeshire and North Wexford called Rediscovering Ancient Connections – The Saints (Ancient Connections). This cross-border project is intended to revive the ancient links between communities in Pembrokeshire and Wexford and hopes to motivate both communities to rediscover their shared heritage and trade knowledge, experience, and skills.