July 17, 2023

S5E9: Ruth Carden - The Bone Lady

S5E9: Ruth Carden - The Bone Lady

How can a kneecap bone change the history of Ireland?

We answer that question during our conversation with Dr. Ruth Carden, a paleo zoologist with a particular interest in the animals that roamed Ireland over the last 50,000 years.

Ruth's research focuses particularly on the skeleteal remains of those animals, since that is all that usually remains after the passage of time. Find out what Ruth can learn from a single bone and how adavanced laboratory analysis can yield  multiple clues on the nature of the animals that she researchs.

We discuss how a single knee bone or patella, found by Ruth, in a poorly labeled collection, has changed the date of the earliest continuous human habitation in Ireland. Before that discovery, it was thought the earliest modern human settlers of Ireland dated to 7,900 BCE. Ruth's work has pushed that date back to soemwhere between 10,860 and 10,641 BCE.

In addition to deep prehistoric research, Ruth is also coordinating the Viking Dublin Dogs project, a grassroots effort which seeks to understand the nature of dogs in Ireland over a thousand years ago and how they interacted with their humans. The project is supported by a number of Irish schools which are supporting and learning about this kind of scientific research.

Cohosts John Lee and Martin have decided to support Ruth's Viking Dublin Dog project and hope we can encourage our listeners to sponsor research on a single dog. We have decided to name our dog Seamus Plugson, although in truth we don't know if this Seamus is a male or a female. Through the money gathered, Ruth will be able to determine the gender of the dog and more importantly provide a date indicating exactly when that dog lived

If you want to help support our fundraiser you can find the Irish Stew Viking Dublin Dog at this link => https://gofund.me/d346d5c3

Both Ruth and your Irish Stew cohosts will be thankful for your support as we attempt to put some flesh back on Seamus Plugson's bones

Ruth's Links


Social Media:

Ruth CardenProfile Photo

Ruth Carden


Dr. Ruth Carden is a (palaeo)zoologist and Quaternary faunal specialist working in Ireland on commercial and academic projects for the past 20+ years. She is engaged in wide-ranging commercial and research interests which are driven by a multidisciplinary approach involving key themes including zoology, palaeoecology, zooarchaeology and the palaeoenvironment.

Commerical and academic research interests interface and combine zoological and faunal analyses involving specialisms in zooarchaeological methodologies and associated analyses, wild deer ecology and management, Quaternary faunal palaeo-ecologies and natural history, prehistoric human-animal relationships, and the use of GIS, photography including photogrammetry and statistical analyses within these areas.