Archaeology at Bloom 2019

The TII Archaeology and Heritage section is very excited to be associated with one of the show gardens at this year's Bloom—Ireland's premier gardening festival. History of the Irish Diet in Plants is an educational garden illustrating changes in the Irish diet from Ireland's early settlers to today. Devised by the School of Agriculture and Food Science, the School of Archaeology, and the School of Architecture, Planning & Environmental Science at University College Dublin (UCD), the plants in this garden reflect a selection of key food plants in Ireland's past, based upon evidence from archaeological science.

The garden illustrates changes in the Irish diet that resulted from key societal and historical changes over the past 8,000 years, moving from diverse but local to diverse and global. To demonstrate this transition, the garden is divided into five sections. The first represents the hunter-gatherer diet of early settlers, who also relied on lakes as a food source. Section two depicts the introduction of farming; section three shows the entry of imported crops and foods into our diet; section four refers to the impact of industrialisation; and section five illustrates the expansive diet of today. Along with fruits, vegetables and cereals, the garden includes pastureland to represent grass-fed animals (cattle, sheep and pigs) and ponds to represent early dependence on lakes for fish and plants.

A Neolithic farmstead at Town Parks, Co. Meath, drawn by Dan Tietzsch-Tyler

Four of the sections incorporate reconstruction drawings of prehistoric and historic archaeological sites that have been excavated in advance of the construction of national roads in counties Cork, Meath, and Galway. These include Mesolithic (8,000 years ago) and Neolithic (5,700 years ago) sites uncovered on the M3; a medieval (800 years ago) farmstead discovered on the M8; and an early modern settlement on the N18. Furthermore, much of the scientific evidence that forms the basis of the different garden sections stems from the results of TII-funded palaeoenvironmental analyses, as well as information derived from other development- and research-led projects in Ireland.

The archaeological reconstruction drawings used in the History of the Irish Diet in Plants educational garden feature the work of JG O'Donoghue, Michael Duffy, and Dan Tietzsch-Tyler. These and more archaeological reconstruction images are published in Illustrating the Past: archaeological discoveries on Irish road schemes by Sheelagh Hughes.

The Bloom festival runs from Thursday 30 May until Monday 3 June 2019, 9am to 6pm each day. Visit to find out more and follow the project on Facebook (@UCDBloomGarden), Instagram (@ucd_bloom_garden), and Twitter (@UCDBloomGarden).