Viking Woodstown book and audioguide

This evening (Tuesday 4th November 2014) sees the launch of two exciting additions to our knowledge of the heritage of County Waterford and our understanding of Viking Age Ireland. Dr Gareth Williams, curator of the British Museum’s landmark 'Vikings: life and legend' exhibition, will launch Woodstown: a Viking-Age settlement in Co. Waterford tonight at 7.00pm at the Waterford Treasures Medieval Museum in Waterford City. This book, edited by Ian Russell and Maurice F Hurley, is the definitive report on the archaeological excavations undertaken at a 9th-century Viking settlement at Woodstown, on the south bank of the River Suir, less than 10 km upstream from the city. The discovery of this exceptionally important site in 2003, in advance of the construction of the N25 Waterford City Bypass, has very significant implications for our understanding of the earliest phases of Viking raiding in Ireland and the establishment of their settlements on the island. The major and central part of the Woodstown site appears to be focused on two contiguous D-shaped enclosures defined by ditches. Occupation encompassed domestic, industrial and craft-working activities and the site became an important centre for trade and exchange, with abundant evidence for a developed trading economy. The site is also notable for the presence of one of the most richly furnished Viking warrior burials in Ireland or Britain.

Archaeologist Dr David Griffiths of Oxford University has described the discovery of Woodstown as ‘a milestone in European Viking archaeology and is arguably the most important individual discovery coming from the Irish ‘construction boom’ of the 2000–10 decade’. The new book draws together all of the evidence from recent research and excavations at this important Viking site and places it in its national and international contexts. Woodstown is the result of a partnership between the NRA (NRA archaeologist James Eogan is the book’s executive editor), the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, and Waterford City and County Council. It was published by Four Courts Press in October 2014 (click here for more information and purchasing details).

In addition to the launch of Woodstown, today also sees the release of a new ‘audiobook’ about the site, which was created by Abarta Audioguides, in conjunction with the NRA and Waterford Treasures. This free to download audiobook is an accessible companion to the new book and uses music and sound effects to immerse the listener so as to get a sense of what everyday life in the settlement of Woodstown may have been like. It can be accessed from the Abarta Audioguides website.