The Last Days of Staad Abbey

Dr Fiona Beglane, Lecturer of Archaeology, ATU Sligo


In this season of wild weather, storms and floods, the issues of climate change and coastal erosion come to the fore. At Staad, near Streedagh Co. Sligo, approximately 16m of the land between the sea and the medieval church at Staad has been lost since the 1830s, with almost 1m lost between 2012 and 2014 alone. As a result, the church, possibly visited by Francisco de Cuellar after being shipwrecked at nearby Streedagh, will probably soon fall into the sea, or the gable wall collapse.

This is not the only effect of the weather on Staad. Occasionally the beach cobbles at Staad move, exposing deposits of peat underlying the cobbles and sand. Archaeological excavations of this peat uncovered evidence of a Bronze Age trackway or platform over 4000 years old as well as 3500-year old lines of preserved wooden posts, that may have held nets to trap migrating birds for food. The archaeologists have now turned their attention to the peat itself, which preserves a record of climate change over the last 6500 years. Experts in pollen, insects, plant remains and wood have carried out scientific analysis of this, identifying changes in the climate, vegetation, and animal life of the area in that time. They can see evidence for events such as the introduction of agriculture, changes in the use of different types of wood for construction, changes in the course of the stream feeding the bog, and in rainfall and weather patterns.

This talk will discuss the fascinating archaeological results from Staad and will consider the very real prospect that the medieval church will soon disappear.

Dr Fiona Beglane is an archaeology lecturer at Atlantic Technological University Sligo and has been leading the research at Staad since 2012.

Archaeological works at Staad Abbey – photo Fiona Beglane

Dr. Fiona Beglane of ATU Sligo

This lecture is part of the Armada Chronicles, presented by Spanish Armada Ireland.
Details: The lecture will take place at Spanish Armada Visitor Centre, The Old Courthouse, Grange, Co. Sligo. F91 HC60. Please park at the Public Car Park beside the playground and walk on the path to the venue. Doors open 7:30pm.