Seed Carriers consisted of a pair of activities to coincide with a public archaeological dig at Swords Castle, Dublin, Ireland as part of the curatorial programme All Bread is Made of Wood. Plant macro-remains found in archaeological deposits at Swords Castle were disseminated and made visible in two ways: in one instance, figuratively, as illustrations on nail transfers applied to the hands of participants, and in another, constitutively, as ingredients used in the menu of an on-site food truck.
Volunteers participating in the public archaeological dig at Swords Castle. Documentation image by Brian Cregan
Manicurist Prema Ranee applies transfers depicting seeds found on previous archaeological digs to the hands of volunteers. Documentation image by Brian Cregan
Seed Carriers reinstitutes archaeological evidence and celebrates seeds as embodied carriers of information through space and time, with people as their agents.
The food truck used to serve meals for volunteer diggers, featuring ingredients matching those found on previous archaeological digs at Swords Castle. Documentation image by Brian Cregan
Through research interviews with archaeologist Dr Meriel McClatchie I was introduced to the Digital Seed Atlas of the Netherlands, a compendium of photographic references of seeds excavated in archaeological digs in Northern central Europe. Using images of grains and seeds found on previous digs in Swords Castle, I created nail transfers for participants in the public dig.
A sample of seeds and one of the dishes featuring ingredients matching those found on previous archaeological digs at Swords Castle, sorrel gremolata, fat hen, pearl barley porridge and hazelnuts. Documentation image by Brian Cregan
Dr Meriel McClatchie is an Assistant Professor at UCD School of Archaeology. Her research is focused on prehistoric and early medieval archaeology in Europe, with a particular interest in landscapes, settlement, food and archaeobotany (the scientific analysis of plant macro-remains recovered from archaeological excavations, including cereal grains and chaff, seeds, fruits and nuts). (Source: Fingal Arts Office)
All Bread is Made of Wood is a public curatorial programme curated by Anne Mullee and commissioned by Fingal County Council’s Public Art Co-ordinator Caroline Cowley. The programme contemplated bread and its elements as a vehicle for the transference of knowledge and memory as embodied in its production for the context of Fingal, a county of Dublin historically associated with a history of grain production.