Archaeologists find evidence of lavish lifestyle enjoyed by medieval Irish monk

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Dublin, Feb 16 (ANI): Archaeologists have discovered new evidence of the lavish lifestyle enjoyed by a medieval Irish monk, which is a stark contrast to the perception of "the simple life" of these clergymen.

According to a report in The Irish Times, archaeologists in Kilkenny, Ireland, unearthed finds that prove at least some senior clergy feasted on roast swan, T-bone steaks and imported fine French wines.

This is in opposition to their public image as men who professed poverty and who were supposed to be devoted to "the simple life".

The archaeological dig is taking place in the grounds of Rothe House, an early 17th-century Irish merchant's town residence and garden situated in the centre of Kilkenny city.

But, the excavations have uncovered evidence of a previous "town house" there, which belonged to Cistercian monks.

Roisin McQuillan, manager of Rothe House, said that the original dwelling was the "city pad" of the Abbot of Duiske Abbey - an important Cistercian monastery located by the river Barrow at Graiguenamanagh, some 30km (20 miles) away.

The dig has confirmed that successive abbots "enjoyed the high life in the city while the rest of the monks lived a simple, ascetic existence at the abbey".

According to archaeologist Coilin O Drisceoil, who led the team, "The garderobe was the medieval equivalent of a luxury jacks" and the significance of the "quite rare discovery" was that "it provides an important insight into how a medieval abbot lived".

Bones discovered showed the abbot would have "eaten roast swan and the best cuts of beef - including T-bone steaks".

The senior monk would have drunk French wine - then a symbol of real wealth - imported from Bordeaux through New Ross port.

Among the finds made by the team were bones from swans and various choice cuts of beef; fragments of pottery wine jugs imported from Bordeaux; and "an intact stool" in which a fruit stone - possibly apricot - is embedded.

But the most startling discovery was a rusting belt buckle. Although the leather belt has long since rotted way, the buckle is still intact.

Drisceoil explained that "the abbot's 'good times' came to an end when he was booted out and both his town house and the abbey were confiscated by the state when Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries in Ireland under legislation introduced in 1537. (ANI)

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