As part of the 3D modelling project for the module in Remaking the Physical, I decided to choose as my case study Saint Manchán’s Church in Lemanaghan, County Offaly. The church dates back to the eleventh century, with extensions added in both the twelfth century and the fifteenth century.
I decided that it would be interesting to try and recreate how the church may have looked in the twelfth century. The first thing to do was to find out historically factual information about the church itself and archaeological information about twelfth century Irish churches and what they looked like — including what type of furnishings or features might have been commonly found in these buildings during the early medieval period.
Dr Rachel Moss, Assistant Professor of the Department of the History of Art and Architecture at Trinity College, Dublin, and co-author of the Lemanaghan Heritage Conservation Plan, drawing on her expertise of medieval Irish ecclesiastical sites, kindly gave me an archaeologically-based interpretation based on how the Lemanaghan site may have appeared circa the twelfth century, which I have listed below:
The walls would have been rendered and lime washed, possibly with wall paintings, but many were also apparently left plain.
Parish churches (as this would have been by the twelfth century) often had two devotional statues on separate shelves either side of the altar- in this case St Manachan on the left (north) of the altar and the BVM [Blessed Virgin Mary] on the right (south).
There would have been no seating and probably a beaten earth floor with rushes and some flat grave slabs.
The roof was probably thatched.
It’s possible that the east window might have had coloured glass.
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Given the time limitations of this project, I may have to omit more difficult features such as the statuary and the wall paintings out of my project for the moment, but if I get more time in the future to add these details I will do. For the moment, I think it’s important to get the main structure of the building, along with their textures and colouration. The main things to worry about for the time being, then, are:
The lime washed stone walls.
The earth floor.
The thatched roof.