A new storytelling project about life through death in medieval Donegal, Ireland, is out. It’s called “Ballyhanna, Stories from the Grave” and it’s an audiobook, produced by Abarta Audioguides on behalf of Transport Infrastructure Ireland and the Ballyhanna Research Project, a companion to the new publication: “The Science of a Lost Medieval Gaelic Graveyard, The Ballyhanna Research Project”.
The Ballyhanna Research Project is a cross-border collaborative research project that was established to investigate a medieval church and burial ground on the outskirts of Ballyshannon in County Donegal. The audiobook gives an account of the archaeological excavation of a forgotten graveyard which contained the burials of over 1,200 individuals, representing over 1,000 years of history. The remains of these individuals were scientifically studied by the Ballyhanna Research Project, whose remarkable findings are now detailed in the new publication.
The site was lost from local knowledge for centuries, rediscovered in 2003 and subsequently excavated. One of the primary aims of the project is to show how scientific research may aid our interpretations of archaeology and reveal new insights into past societies. The project research tells us about this community through death and burial traditions, and by examining these aspects, it also tells us about the people that lived in this medieval community, who, over the course of a millennium, were laid to rest in a small graveyard by the banks of the River Erne.
The chapters of this audiobook are broken into tracks, with each track discussing a particular aspect of the story of Ballyhanna. Five of these tracks are written from the first-person perspective of individuals whose remains were discovered during the excavation, or who were likely to have lived and worked at Ballyhanna in the past. These first-person accounts are fictional, but attempt to recreate their time, surroundings and lives, based on the information retrieved during the excavation and analysis, and from contemporary historical records.
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