EAA STUDENT AWARD 2021
The European Association of Archaeologists awards
the 2021 Student Award to
of the University College Dublin
for her paper
Bog Butter in Ireland: A Study through Time
Covid has shaken the world in the last 18 months, and archaeology has been
strongly affected along a number of different axes. Students in particular
have suffered from lack of access to resources, reduced mobility, and
difficulties in launching or carrying out planned fieldwork.
In her paper “Bog butter in Ireland: A study through time and space”, Karen
O’Toole faces these challenges with grace and ingenuity and manages to use
them to launch a creative new study into a well-known, but not always well
recorded archaeological find type.
O’Toole presents a pilot study of bog butter deposition in six Irish counties
which was both a work-around developed to test the quality and affordances
of legacy data when museums were not accessible and also an initial
attempt to situate bog butter within the larger corpus of Irish bog finds,
alongside a range of other artefacts from different periods. Through a series
of GIS analyses, she explores some of the limitations of the modern data,
including various taphonomic processes that may create patterns in the data
subsequent to different deposition events.
O’Toole’s research highlights how common bog butter deposition must
have been in the past—from prehistory to the 19th century. This provides a
useful jumping off point for her own doctoral research, but it is also a good
reminder to the rest of us that many of our most remarkable finds were just
ordinary parts of past people’s everyday lives.
We congratulate Karen O’Toole and look forward to the publication of her
Dr. Catherine J.
Chair of the European Association of Archaeologists’ Student Award Committee