Spade 284.1967

Length: 103.8 cm, Width, Depth 2.9cm

Moneyneena 1:5000, Historic 6" Map 1842 . ©Ordnance Survey Ireland, 2017

Moneyneena 1:5000, Historic 6" Map 1842. ©Ordnance Survey Ireland, 2017

Cross section of wood collected from Spade 284.1967 as shown in 3D model above

Cross section of wood collected from Spade 284.1967 as shown in 3D model above

Find Location

This spade from the collection of the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum, is reported as found in 1960, under 30 inches of peat, at Sesskinamada, Moneyneena towland, county Derry. 

The Irish translation for Moneyneena, is Móin na nIonadh meaning 'bog of wonders', and notes preserved on the Placenames Database of Ireland enthusiastically record Moneyneena as 'the most wonderful townland in Glenconkeine', suggesting that it was at one time set in one of Ulster's most formidable pre-plantation forests. The region is associated in folk memory with fairies and enchantment, and the notes also relate a number of folk histories including that Moneyneena was a favourite place for the old Irish warriors to learn their exercises and perform great feats of magic. A holy well near the remains of an old fort (see map left) and the present day chapel in Moneyneena,  is recorded in the ordnance survey memoirs of 1824 as having magical powers, such that it was once closely guarded by a powerful magician and his earless dog! The well became known, in time, as 'Tobarawathymeel’ or ‘The Earless Dog’s Well’.  

References in the Literature

The museum notes for the object, an abridged version of which is reported in the Ulster Journal of Archaeology, Vol.31 1968, read as follows:

"Poorly preserved, broken, remains of wooden portion of metal-shod wooden 2-shouldered spade. The end of the shaft was provided with a tenon to secure a cross-piece in position. The tenon is broken.The shaft was broken across at a point about 30.0 cms above shoulder level. The shaft is rectangular in cross-section, averaging 4.5 cms wide and 2.5 cm's thick; its total length from shoulder level to the top of the remains of the tenon at the extremity of the shaft is 90.0 cms. The shaft is almost straight being only slightly bent forward in its lower portion to impart some small degree of lift to the implement. The blade is 2.5 cms thick in the centre at shoulder level, tapering to an angle at an approximate distance of 13.0 cms below shoulder level. The edge is irregular in profile, and the sides of the blade have been broken off. Nail holes remain  in the sides of the shaft, 4.0 cms above shoulder level, indicating that the metal shoe for the spade was secured by means of straps that continued from the sides of the shoe along the sides of the blade, across the shoulders and along the sides of the shaft for at least 4.0 cms. A slight depression on the surviving left hand edge of the blade may have been caused by an imperfectly driven nail." 

Technical Analysis

In addition to photographing the spade using visible, infrared (IR) and ultra violet (UV) light, a small sample of wood was collected from the spade so that the wood species from which it is made could be identified. This sample will be submitted for radio carbon dating analysis in the summer 2018. 


Gailey, A. (1968) Irish Iron-Shod Wooden Spades. Ulster Journal of Archaeology 31  77-86.

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