CHERISH: The Year that was 2021 -Highlights from the CHERISH Project Manager
It’s hard to believe that the project has now reached the end of its fifth year and we reach what would have been the original end date of the CHERISH Project. We are fortunate that we have had an extension to the project and additional European funding to allow us to enter a further phase to promote and market the results and products of the project. CHERISH will now be with you until June 2023!
This year has been a very busy year and despite the on-going pandemic and changes to the way that we work, the team has been busy across Wales and Ireland. Here are a few of my chosen highlights to end 2021.
2021 was the year of CHERISH excavations, starting at Ferriter’s Cove in Co. Kerry, over 2 weeks in May. Here a promontory fort and castle are situated on a narrow headland at the western extremities of the Irish coastline. Excavation uncovered a very well-preserved hut site and we eagerly await the results of post-excavation analysis to reveal when it was occupied. The excavation is featured in our 8th CHERISH newsletter available to download here
Two excavations also took place in Wales. In August CHERISH contributed to the second season of excavation at Dinas Dinlle coastal fort. This built on our 2018 excavation and was undertaken by Gwynedd Archaeological Trust, with funding from Cadw, National Trust, and CHERISH. The highlight of the dig was undoubtedly revealing the full extent of the impressive roundhouse within the hillfort interior.
As the Dinas Dinlle excavations were drawing to a close, a new one was beginning at Caerfai Promontory Fort in Pembrokeshire. Here CHERISH contracted DigVentures to run a community excavation for us. The two-week excavation was blessed with great weather and over 150 volunteers took part. Dig diaries and images from the excavation can be found on the dig ventures website and the DigVentures team also provided a lecture for the Pembrokeshire Archaeology Day which can be viewed on the CHERISH YouTube Channel
We didn’t just stay on dry land and 2021 saw the continuation of our maritime survey programme and our first wreck dive, the Bronze Bell, a cargo ship carrying Carrera marble from Tuscany that was shipwrecked on the Sarn Padrig reef. CHERISH commissioned MSDS Marine who undertook the first underwater survey of the wreck for the first time since 2006. The team have produced a series of dive diaries which are available to view on the CHERISH YouTube channel. There will also be an on-line lecture on the work of the team on the Bronze Bell by Alison James of MSDS Marine on 17 February 2022, tickets will be released in the new year.
2021 was the year of COP26 and we’ve continued to work hard to raise the profile of #ClimateHeritage. In May we held our CHERISH conference. This should have taken place in Dublin Castle, but we moved online and with the help of Fitwise we were able to deliver a virtual conference with international speakers from all corners of the earth. It was a successful conference illustrating the common goal for the heritage sector to understand the impacts of climate change on our coastal heritage and how we can adapt to this. All of the talks are now available to view on the project website and YouTube channel
We also saw the CHERISH Exhibition head off to its first venues: Bangor in Wales and Dun Laoghaire and Rush in Ireland. It was wonderful to see it finally unwrapped after being stuck in storage due to the pandemic. We’ve lots more venues lined up in 2022, keep an eye on our website and social media for updates.
During the period of COP26 we contributed to and spoke at a number of events and also teamed up with other coastal heritage projects across the UK in the production of a series of films raising awareness of coastal heritage and climate change.
I think it is safe to say that the team have been very busy this year and it is not often that as a Project Manager you get to acknowledge and publicly thank the team involved, so thank you! Here’s to an equally busy and informative 2022!
It is also an opportunity to wish two of the CHERISH team well as they leave the project, James Barry from CHERISH partner Geological Survey Ireland and Dan Hunt from the team here in the Royal Commission are moving on after four and a half years on the project and we all wish them every success in the future