Extracts of an interview between Dr Pamela Rose and Katherine Kinsella for the Peoples Independent Irish news.
KK Thank you to Dr Pamela Rose for agreeing to take part in this interview. Dr Rose was one of the leading archaeologists who worked on a dig in County Meath this summer which proved to be the site of a significant Iron Age battle. She is an expert in Viking history and has spent a number of years working in Sweden.
Good morning Dr Rose.
PR Good morning, please call me Pam.
KK Okay Pam, how did you become involved in this archaeological dig?
PR I was invited to join the project this summer mainly because of my expertise in Viking history. Many of your readers will know that over the years a number of Viking artifacts have been unearthed in this area. Farmers have found items on their land and a few years ago someone found a Viking armband whilst walking along the river.
KK Did you believe from the outset that you were digging in the right place? Over the years arguments have raged between academics regarding the location of the battle site.
PR It’s true that many historians believed that the battle must have taken place further along the river to the east of Drogheda. Local legend suggests that an invading army came across the sea from England and that the battle took place nearer to the coast.
KK Couldn’t an invading army have sailed their ships up the River Boyne?
PR It’s true that ships could have come up the river as far as Drogheda, but it’s unlikely that they would have been able to navigate much further. The landscape was much different then, there would have been thick forest where the fields are today and the banks of the river would have been tree lined. Drogheda was not established then, but it would undoubtedly have made a perfect place for ships to anchor safely.
KK Dr Orlagh Gairne from the National Museum was running the dig. I understand that you are old friends. How was it working with such a distinguished historian?
PR Indeed, Dr Gairne and I go back a long way. We have not worked together for many years. She is an expert in her field, but my knowledge was invaluable to both the project and to those working on the site.
KK You lived in Sweden for a number of years. Was this move from England for family reasons or was it purely a professional decision?
PR I have no family in Sweden. I went there because I was offered a position at the Department of Archaeology and Classical studies at Stockholm University. I spent most of my time excavating Birka, one of the first real towns to develop in Sweden. Birka is on the island of Björkö situated on Lake Mälaren just outside Stockholm. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is rich in archaeology. My colleagues Dr Sven Larsson and Nils Holmgren have dedicated their lives to discovering the secrets that remain hidden in this rich landscape.
KK You talk passionately about your time in Sweden. Do you intend to return and carry on your work there?
PR Only for holidays. My work in Sweden is done and now it’s time to move on and find something new. Working here in Ireland this summer has been an extraordinary experience. I’ve been truly inspired and intend to remain in Dublin for a little while longer.
KK You are working on a book. Can you tell us anything about it?
PR It’s not a novel, but an academic review of the Viking influence on the development of early Dublin. Did you know for example that Dublin was a Viking slaving centre? People captured from England and the Continent were brought here to be sold into slavery.
KK I didn’t know that. Is this the direction in which you see your future going, writing books about this period in history?
PR No, not really. It’s something that I’m interested in at the moment. To tell you the truth, I prefer to be out in the field working with soil under my fingernails. We’ll just have to wait and see what the future has in store for me.
KK Do you intend to remain in Ireland for the foreseeable future?
PR Yes I do, but not indefinitely. There are many interesting opportunities opening up in Ireland, the UK and on the Continent. I’m not sure at this point where I might end up.
KK Will you be working with Dr Gairne on her next project? She wants to establish the location of an Iron Age settlement close to where the M1 Bridge crosses the river Boyne.
PR I’m aware of her intentions, but I don’t expect to be invited to take part. If significant Viking artifacts are unearthed then I can’t rule out offering my services, but by then I should be well into writing my book.
KK Thank you Pam for taking part in this interview. I wish you well for the future and look forward to a signed copy of your book.
Katherine Kinsella, Peoples Independent Irish news.