The Know Thy Place historical chart is more than just something for your wall. The information you receive also allows you to explore the archaeology of Thy Place, and serves as a guide to the location of monuments in the area. The example chart on the Know Thy Place website looks at Kilcredan, Co. Cork, Jonathan Millar’s place. Jonathan recently took the opportunity to explore some of the archaeology of the area using the chart prepared for him, and he took the time to describe his experience for the blog.
My Place was chosen for the first example chart because it is a fairly typical Irish townland; it has a rich history but is not ‘famous’ and is notable locally only because it houses the local parish National School. I have lived in Kilcredan for four years and in Ireland for six years altogether, since my family and I moved here from Scotland in 2004. The history of Ireland as a whole is something I am still learning and my knowledge of our local area is very fragmentary- so when I was first able to read the Know Thy Place scroll for Kilcredan it revealed many interesting details I was unaware of. I have cycled and walked around Kilcredan townland many times, but as is so often the case with the place where you live, I had never previously visited the monuments and attractions in the locality.
All this changed when I got my hands on a copy of the Kilcredan chart. I decided to select a monument listed on the chart each month to go and explore with my family. This weekend just past, my son Louis (8) and I donned our rough clothes and adventure hats and went exploring with our cameras and a modest picnic to see what we could find at Kilcredan Church. I learned from the chart that the church and graveyard (monument 20b in my place) dated to the later medieval period and was one of two in the area. The church would have been an important focal point for the community in the past, and I imagined the generations of people who must have gone there to worship.
Upon our arrival at the church, which is now a ruin, Louis quickly spotted some of its key features. These included a variety of sculptures, many of which appear to have been intentionally defaced in antiquity, and a church building which shows the scars and markings of regular and persistent structural alterations during its life. In the burial ground we came across a diverse collection of gravestones, some of which were up to 400 years old, while more recent graves bore testament to the continued use of the site by the local community and its importance to them. We spent an hour or so exploring these memorials, and we recognised the family names of lots of our friends and neighbours, highlighting that they had ties to this townland for many hundreds of years.
The Know Thy Place chart is a product that resonates particularly with Irish people and members of the diaspora who have ties to a particular town or townland, ‘their Place’. I fall into a different category, having no direct ties to the townland. However, it is now the place that I call home, and the chart has given me a much greater appreciation of the historic landscape of which my home is a part. The chart now proudly hangs on my living room wall, a constant reminder to my family and I that Kilcredan is now ‘Our Place’.