Stone enclosure at Kilgreany Cave, Co. Waterford

The assessment of a proposed quarry extension at Cappagh, near Dungarvan Co. Waterford for John A. Wood Ltd. in 2007 required the assessment of the environs of Kilgreany cave. The limestone cave is situated at the base of a low rocky escarpment of limestone on the northern side of a broad marshy valley through which the river Brickey flows. It was excavated between 1928-34 by the Bristol University Speleological Society and the Royal Irish Academy and by Hallam Movius (1935) of the third Harvard Expedition to Ireland and both human and animal remains, including Pleistocene fauna such as Reindeer, Bear and Giant Irish Deer were recovered. The cave also contained artefacts dating from the Neolithic, Bronze Age and early medieval periods. More recent radiocarbon dating of the human remains placed them into the first half of the third millennium BC or the fourth millennium BC (Molleson 1985-6).

A geophysical investigation of the exterior of the cave was carried out by John Nicholls of Target Archaeological Geophysics (Licence 07R055) and identified a well defined negative linear responses that indicated an oval enclosure measuring 120m x 60m in diameter, that partly enclosed the south-east end of the cave escarpment and extended to the south-east.  The negative response suggested the presence of stone foundations of the enclosure. There were also several linear responses in the interior of the enclosure that may have been potential divisions (Nicholls 2007).

As no development took place in the vicinity of the cave there was no further investigation of the enclosure. While the enclosure may simply be the remains of a later field enclosure the possibility that it was associated with prehistoric or later activity activity in the cave would merit future investigation.

Kilgreany cave under excavation in 1934

Kilgreany cave photographed in 2007.

Some of the finds from Kilgreany cave, from Movius et al. 1935.

Kilgreany geophysics by Target Archaeological geophysics.


Molleson, T.I. 1985-6. New radiocarbon dates for the occupation of Kilgreany Cave, Co. Waterford. Journal of Irish Archaeology III, 1-3.

Movius, H.L., Roche, G. , Stelfox, A.W. and Maby, J.C. 1935. Kilgreany Cave, County Waterford. The Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland, Seventh Series, Vol. 5, No. 2, 254-296.

Nicholls, J. 2007. Geophysical Survey Report: Lands at cappagh, Kilgreany Townland County Waterford. Licence No. 07R055. Unpublished report for John A. Wood Ltd.



Ballyburn Upper, Co, Kildare Excavation Project

Excavating the inner ditch at

Excavating the inner ditch at Ballyburn Upper, Co. Kildare

Excavating the iner ditch at Ballyburn Upper, Co. Kildare

Excavating the inner ditch at Ballyburn Upper, Co. Kildare

Archaeological investigation at Ballyburn Upper, Co. Kildare has been continuing since 2008. The work has been carried out on behalf of Dan Morrissey (IRL) Ltd., under the terms of the ICF Archaeological Code of Practice, as a condition of the planning permission to develop a quarry at the site. The investigations have taken place over a considerable area of landscape. Geophysical Survey carried out at Ballyburn Upper in March 2008 by Earthsound archaeological Geophysics investigated an area of 50.5 hectares and identified a wide range of archaeological features ((Licence Number 08R28). These included a multi-vallated enclosure, and a range of other potential archaeological deposits in 8 other areas of the site. These potential sites were investigated in 2008 by Nial O’Neill for Headland Archaeology who carried out a test excavation (Licence Number: 08E0634) and confirmed the presence of a range of archaeological features at the site.

The features in the northern and western part of the site were fully investigated in 2009 by Nial O’Neill (Licence Number: 09E0128).  The excavation uncovered activity extending from the Middle Bronze Age to the Early Medieval period. A Middle Bronze age pit and Late Bronze Age hut was excavated in areas D and C. An area of unenclosed Early Medieval activity with evidence for butchery, leather working, iron smithing, metal casting, weaving and charcoal production but no settlement evidence was investigated in Area D. This activity indicated the presence of an Early Medieval settlement in the vicinity of the activity which has now been confirmed as the contemporary multi-vallated enclosure. This work was followed up later in 2009 by the archaeological testing of the multi-vallated enclosure identified through geophysics. This work was also carried out by Nial O’Neill (Licence Number: 09E0193). The presence of the enclosure was confirmed by the archaeological testing.

Due to the collapse of the economy there was no further archaeological work carried out at Ballyburn until 2013 when the investigation of the multi-vallated enclosure resumed. The excavation was directed by Ross McLeod for Rubicon Heritage (formerly Headland Archaeology IRL) (Licence Number: 13E045). The excavation revealed a multi-vallated enclosure with substantial enclosing ditches, industrial activity in the area between the ditches and substantial settlement evidence in the interior of the inner enclosure. There is evidence for a possibly wood-lined souterrain and possibly two structures as well as a range of hearth and stake-hole features. A wide range of early medieval artefacts of iron, copper alloy, glass, lignite, stone and bone have also been recovered. Considerable quantities of animal bone and metallurgical debris was also found on the site. The remains of a number of adults and children were also recovered from features on the site. A full programme of post-excavation analysis,  which is being funded by the developer, is proceeding.

The results of the 2008-9 excavations have already been published by O’Neill (2010) and the 2013 work will follow once the post-excavation analysis has been completed. One of the important conclusions of the investigations is that they indicate that a considerable amount of the activities required to support an Early Medieval settlement could take place outside the enclosure. Without a landscape approach to archaeology these extramural activities will go undetected.

O’Neill, N. 2010. Settlement and economy of an early medieval site in the vicinity of two newly discovered enclosure near the Carlow/Kildare border. Journal of Irish Archaeology XIX, 71-100.


Where was the original location of the town of Ballysadare, Co. Sligo?

Ballysadare is a town on the Owenmore River in Co. Sligo. The name was originally Eas-dara the cataract of the oak, from the falls on the Owenmore (Abhainn Mor Great River). It was afterwards called Baile-ease-dara the town of Assdara, which has been shortened to the present name. A Monastery was found by St. Feichin at Ballysadare at this important crossing of the Owenmore River, some time before he died in 664 AD (O’Rorke 1878, 1-4). However, the site was already of some importance and had been visited by both St. Columbkille and St. Columba, so there may already have been a settlement here. This monastic site is in Kilboglashy townland and is now occupied by a stone church (St. Feichin’s Church) with a later Romanesque style carved doorway, two small buildings and a graveyard (RMP 20:109). The monastic site continued in use well into the twelfth century when the Annals of the Four Masters record that in 1158: The Brehon Ua Duileannain, airchinneach of Eas-dara, ollamh of law, and chief of his territory, died.

As was the case with other monastic settlements Ballysadare had a significant lay population and these settlements are now often referred to as monastic towns. The town of Ballysadare would have been situated around St. Feichin’s Abbey to the west of the Owenmore River. Ballysadare was important enough to be mentioned in the Annals of the Four Masters 15 times between 1158 and 1602, in 1188, 1199, 1228, 1230, 1235, 1239, 1249, 1261, 1267, 1285, 1360, 1444, 1595 and 1602.

Some time in the thirteenth century the religious community appears to have adopted the rule of the Canons Regular of St. Augustine and built a new priory a short distance to the west in Abbeytown Townland. O’Rorke (1878, 23) suggested that the new Monastery was built at the western end of the town. All that is visible of this foundation above ground is the nave and chancel church with tower. By the fourteenth century the Abbey had come into the possession of the de Berminghams and a deed of Gilbert de Bermingham of 1330 disposed of the lands of Ballysadare Abbey (totem terram del tearmuynd de assdara; O’Rorke 1878, 9). However by 1371 the de Berminghams were driven out of Ballysadare by the O’Haras and O’Dowds. The Monastery is mentioned in the Annals in the year 1444, the year that it’s Abbot Cormac Mac Donough, died of the plague while on pilgrimage to Rome.

In 1360 the Annals of the Four Masters note: A bridge of lime and stone was built by Cathal O’Conor across the river of Eas-dara. Before this O’Rorke (1878, 11) states that there was a tradition of a “bridge of boughs”. O’Rorke refers to foundations of this bridge c. 100 yards below the current bridge at the Eel House within 100m of the waterfall. The Annals of Loch Ke note that in 1586 Donnell O’Conor Sligo built the second bridge at Ballysadare. This may have been in the same location as the current bridge. If so it may have been from this time that the town of Ballysadare began to move from its location at the Abbey.

From the Dublin Government’s suppression of the Monasteries in 1536 monasticism in Ireland came under threat but the Augustinian Abbey at Ballysadare appears to have continued in use until 1588 when it was seized by the Crown and “the site and precinct of Ballysadare spiritual and temporal were leased to Bryan Fitzwilliams for 21 years”. The subsequent Royal Inquisition noted that the Abbey property consisted of a Church partly thatched, dormitory, 2 other ruined buildings, 3 cottages with gardens and a ruined cemetery. Land included 3 quarters of land (each c.120 acres) in the townland of Assdara, 40 acres of arable and pasture, 60 acres of stony mountain, the rectory and vicarage of Ballysadare (called Templemore[this refers to St. Feichin’s Church]) and 3 parts of the tithes in the lands called the Termon lands (O’Rorke 1878, 16).

By 1605 the lands had come into the hands of John Crofton and an inquisition of 1607 noted 3 houses within the precinct of the Glebe of the Great church of Assdara (St. Feichin’s Church), were occupied by the McGilleboy’s (O’Rorke 1878, 15).

In October and November 1641 the Sheriff of Sligo, Andrew Crean, called meetings of the landowners of the County at Ballysadare to deal with the Northern rebellion (O’Dowd, 1991, 117). The following year Ballysadare, which was filled with refugees from Co. Leitrim, was attacked and destroyed during a raid by Sir Fredrick Hamilton O’Rourke (1878). If the town had not already moved to its current location, it was rebuilt to the south on the eastern and western sides of the Owenmore River following the raid. The town had certainly moved by the time William Petty produced his map in 1654 indicating the presence of the town on both sides of the later bridge over the Owenmore River.

Layout of the site
The exact layout of either abbey or the old town of Ballysadare is not known. However, the evidence suggests that much of the activity associated with the Abbeys and town would have been situated in the area between St. Feichin’s Abbey and the Augustinian Abbey.

The archaeological testing carried out in 2004 (04E1468-9) uncovered deposits of shells and animal bone in the area to the west and north-west of St. Feichin’s Church as well as a stone building foundation directly west of the church. I personally collected fragments of a rotary quern to the west of the pathway near St. Feichin’s church. Test excavation carried out in 1999 in fields to the south also uncovered midden material (99E0245) and midden material was uncovered during the widening of the access road to St. Feichin’s Church in the early 1970s (see RMP file 020-109 held in RMP archives, Dublin). This midden material represents the refuse of settlement activity associated with St. Feichin’s Abbey and probably the old town of Ballysadare. Oblique aerial photography of the area also indicates a series of linear features which may be associated with the settlement. This suggests that this activity centred in the fields to the west of the pathway, in the area between the two monasteries.


O’Dowd, M. 1991 Early Modern Sligo 1568-1688.

O’Rorke, T. 1878. History, antiquities, and present state of the parishes of Ballysadare and Kilvarnet, in the county of Sligo; with notices of the 0’Haras, the Coopers, the Percevals, and other local families.

Wiggins, K 2004. Kilboglashy, Ballysadare, Co. Sligo Site SL020-10902 (graveyard) Excavation Report.

Wiggins, K 2004. Kilboglashy, Ballysadare, Co. Sligo Site SL020-10907 (middens) Excavation Report.

Wiggins, K 2004. Kilboglashy, Ballysadare, Co. Sligo Site SL020-10906 (enclosure) Excavation Report.

Brownstown, Co. Kildare Excavation Project

Since 2003 Dr. Charles Mount has been the project manager of the archaeological investigations at the Brownstown, Co. Kildare quarry. The work has been carried out on behalf of Kilsaran Concrete, under the terms of the ICF Archaeological Code of Practice, as a condition of the planning permission to develop a quarry at the site. Dr. Mount also prepared the Cultural Heritage section of the EIA for the extension of the development. A combination of monitoring of topsoil stripping, geophysical investigation, and test and full excavation have revealed a range of archaeological features dating from the Neolithic to the Early Medieval period. To date six rectangular Neolithic houses, a beaker burial and 24 figure-of-eight corn-drying kilns have been preserved by record. A rectangular enclosure, with a wide deep ditch, enclosed at least twenty-nine individuals as well as an ossuary. To the north of this a complex inter-cutting series of wide ditches were excavated, as well as a series of smaller ditch and drain features. A possible sunken house was excavated to the east of the rectangular enclosure.

All the investigations at Brownstown have been fully completed to final report stage with all post-excavation analysis completed. We were also able to carry out the work in partnership with the Making Christian Landscapes INSTAR Project and Frank Coyne wrote made a significant contribution to the project using the Brownstown material and Paul MacCotter wrote a report on the historical background of the site  which is contained in the preliminary INSTAR report for the Heritage Council.

There have also been a number of publications of aspects of the excavations:

Purcell, A. 2002. Excavation of three Neolithic houses at Corbally, Kilcullen, Co. Kildare. Journal of Irish Archaeology II.

Tobin, R. 2003. Houses, enclosures and kilns: excavations at Corbally, Co. Kildare. Archaeology Ireland 17.

Coyne, F. 2010. Corbally, Co. Kildare: the results of the 2003-4 excavations of a secular cemetery. In C. Corlett and M. Potterton (EDS) Death and Burial in Early Medieval Ireland. Dublin.

Mount, C. 2013. A note on some beaker period pit burials in Ireland. Journal of Irish Archaeology. XXI.

Below is a summary of the investigations carried out at Brownstown to date. Summaries are from

No archaeological significance
Monitoring of soil-stripping took place at this site before gravel extraction. The site is in the townlands of Brownstown and Carnalway, near Kilcullen, Co. Kildare. The area is gently undulating, generally sloping from north to south, and mostly low-lying (from c. 140m to c. 120m OD). The site was under open pasture at the commencement of soil-stripping.

The site was stripped using a mechanical excavator fitted with a 2.5m-wide toothless bucket, working tracks of c. 13m wide (the reach of the digger arm). Four features were identified. In addition, a small flint scraper was found lying on the surface of the redeposited topsoil bund, but it was not possible to determine from which part of the site it had been taken.

Feature 1 was an irregularly shaped area of dense, charcoal-rich soil measuring c. 6m2. No finds were recovered from this feature, and no other features were noted during the soil-stripping in its vicinity. The shape and content of this feature suggest that it was an in situ burnt-out tree root.

Feature 2 was an area of staining containing animal bones and burnt material. It is in the southern half of the field and was first noted as a distinct spread of darker soil. It is slightly curved, c. 6m long and 0.4m wide in the middle, widening to c. 1m at the northern end and c. 1.5m at its southern end. The northern portion of the feature is subcircular; the southern portion is irregularly oval. The visible surface of the feature consists of a dark grey/brown, friable silt, with a small clay content and possibly a small ash component. It contains very little charcoal. There are small, irregularly shaped concentrations of animal bones at both the northern and southern portions, and on the eastern side of the southern end is a thin band of heat-reddened soil at the boundary of the feature.

To the north of Feature 2 is a further area of darkened soil, consisting of a linear feature 2.5m wide by at least 15m long, running north-east to south-west (Feature 2.1). It ends sharply at its south-west end but may continue for a further 30-40m to the north-east. It has the appearance of a remnant field boundary. Feature 2 was covered in plastic, and it and Feature 2.1 were fenced off for further examination.

Feature 3 was a small, subcircular concentration of charcoal, c. 0.2m in diameter, surrounded by a broader area of brown to yellow sand with charcoal flecks. The spread of charcoal-flecked sand fades out less than 1m from the centre of the feature. The concentrated area of charcoal ran to a depth of only c. 40mm, with a vague zone of darker brown, charcoal-flecked sand underlying it. The feature contained no other material or finds.

Feature 4 was a similar discrete concentration of charcoal c. 20m to the south-east of Feature 2. It is subcircular and c. 0.2m in diameter, with a spread of charcoal flecks thinning out away from the centre. Because of its proximity to Feature 2, and the fact that it is in an area of the development that will not be further disturbed in the short term, this feature was covered in plastic and marked out for further examination.

Monitoring of topsoil-stripping was carried out at this site over a period of four months from November 1997 to February 1998 during the development of a quarry for Kilsaran Concrete. A considerable area of ground was stripped in advance of the development. During the course of the stripping of the access road to the quarry area several modern features were revealed. These included a small area of post-medieval activity, a deposit of ash and charcoal (probably the remains of tree-root burning) and two small field clearance cairns.

The stripping of the quarry area straddled December 1997 and January 1998. During the course of this a series of features of archaeological interest were revealed. In December eight charcoal-flecked pits were located and excavated. Seven of these formed a subcircular plan, approximately 8m in diameter, with the eighth pit lying approximately 8m to the north. One piece of worked flint and three sherds of pottery, of which only one survived intact, were found. The three sherds were similar in character and a Bronze Age date is suggested.

In January 1998 soil-stripping recommenced and several additional features of interest were revealed, including several pits containing large amounts of charcoal and a spread of burnt material. One of the pits contained several sherds of prehistoric pottery, one of which was decorated with cord-impressed lines. Fragments of burnt bone were also found in this pit. Two small natural hollows filled with a charcoal-rich deposit were found. A spread of charcoal and burnt stone approximately 6m by 4.5m by 0.28m deep was excavated; no finds were recovered from this feature. A small possible post-hole was found and excavated. Two areas of tree-root burning were found..

Corn-drying kiln
Four features had been identified during the course of monitoring carried out in advance of a quarry development at Brownstown/Carnalway, Kilcullen, Co. Kildare (Excavations 1999, 122, 99E0416). Two were deemed to be archaeologically significant, and both were excavated.

The larger of the two features proved to be a clay-cut drying kiln, most probably used to dry corn, although no remains of cereals were recovered. The second was a pit containing charcoal and soil deposits, which had been truncated by ploughing.

The kiln appeared as a cut in the natural sand subsoil, filled with a brown, sandy clay and measuring 6.32m by 1.68m in maximum extent. It consisted of two depressions linked by a channel. The larger, lower depression (1.6m x 3.4m) acted as the fire-bowl, joined to the channel or flue, which directed hot air to the northern depression or drying bowl (c. 1m diameter). A wooden structure, indicated by post-holes, probably covered the drying bowl. The flue may have been covered by sods.

The kiln went through at least two phases of use, indicated by a recutting of the fire-bowl through earlier ash deposits. After the kiln went out of use the cutting was backfilled in what appears to have been one action. The posts were also deliberately removed before rotting in situ. It appears that this kiln had a limited lifespan, perhaps a couple of seasons. Comparable sites, mostly lined with stone, have been found on medieval sites in Britain and Ireland and may even have been used up to the 19th century.

The second feature, located 22m south-east of the kiln, was a circular pit (0.67m x 0.62m, 0.12m deep) containing two fills. The uppermost consisted of a discrete circular deposit of mottled brown, burnt soil with charcoal flecks (0.28m x 0.18m, 0.12m deep). The second, which was a mid-brown, sandy, silty soil with charcoal flecks, constituted the remainder of the fill of the pit (0.38m x 0.63m, 0.12m deep). The pit was truncated and disturbed by later ploughing.

No datable or diagnostic finds were recovered from either feature. A piece of prehistoric waste flint was found in the kiln, but it appears to have been redeposited along with a brown, sandy clay, which was used to backfill the kiln after it had gone out of use. A sherd of post-medieval pottery found adjacent to the kiln, lying on the surface of the natural, was also disturbed. Charcoal and bone samples were recovered from the fills of both features for radiocarbon dating.

Neolithic structures and prehistoric activity
In November 1997 work commenced on a large-scale development near Kilcullen, Co. Kildare. A sand-and-gravel extraction pit was opened in a green-field location straddling three townlands: Corbally, Brownstown and Silliot Hill. Planning permission had been received for the phased extraction of the sand deposits over a period of several years. Monitoring of topsoil removal was required under the terms of the planning regulations.

The first stage of the development involved monitoring of topsoil-stripping in three separate areas: the access road, an overburden storage area and the quarry.

Corbally townland
In January/February 1998, when soil-stripping recommenced in the remaining small portion of a pasture field in Corbally townland, a number of significant, well-preserved archaeological features were revealed. The foundations of three Neolithic houses were uncovered. These were surprisingly well preserved and were fully excavated. Several other areas of archaeological activity were revealed within this same field, including separate features containing Beaker pottery and possible grooved ware.

The Neolithic houses
Three Neolithic houses were uncovered in the south-western corner of a field. House 1 was centrally placed, 3m south-east of Structure 2 and 12m north-east of Structure 3. The remains of substantial foundation trenches were revealed in all three, as well as internal features including post-holes, stake-holes, pits and hearths. External post-holes and pits were also found. The three houses were constructed of post-and-plank walls.

A significant quantity of finds was recovered from the site, including sherds of Western Neolithic, round-bottomed, shouldered bowl and worked stone, including flint, chert, quartz, serpentine, saddle querns, hammerstones and broken fragments from polished stone axes.

House 1 was the largest of the three, measuring 11.07m x 6.73m. It was orientated north-west/south-east and was trapezoidal in plan, narrowing at the south-eastern end, where the doorway appears to have been. A large, continuous foundation trench divided this building into two chambers, and small, discontinuous trenches subdivided a third, smaller chamber.

The foundation trenches were very substantial, with post-holes dotted at regular intervals along their length. Large, substantial internal post-holes were present, which acted as roof supports, and two large, substantial hearths were centrally placed in the large chamber. There is the suggestion of two phases of activity within the house, as well as two phases of pre-house activity. Finds from this building were particularly rich. Only one radiocarbon date has been obtained to date, placing the house in the early fourth millennium BC, 3995 BC (5220+80 BP).

House 2 measured 10.77m x 5.29m and was again orientated north-west/south-east. This structure was slightly trapezoidal in plan, although this was not as obvious as was House 1. The narrower end of the trapezoid was at the south-east end, where the entrance appears to have been. A large, continuous foundation trench divided the house into two chambers.

The foundation trenches were substantial but slightly smaller than in House 1. Post-holes were found in the foundation trenches. Pairs of internal post-holes divided the house into aisles, which supported the roof. Several additional post-holes appear to have been added during the lifetime of the house, presumably to augment the support provided by the original post-holes. The house dates from the fourth millennium BC, 3685 BC (4910+-80 BP).

House 3 was the smallest of the three buildings, measuring 7.37m x 6.45m. The structure was orientated north-west/south-east and was Subrectangular in plan. Discontinuous foundation trenches subdivided the building into two chambers.

The foundation trenches were very substantial, with post-holes dotted regularly along them. The house was divided into aisles by roof-supporting post-holes. A large central hearth was present.

These three structures were very similar to previously excavated Western Neolithic houses, and the radiocarbon dates indicate that they were constructed from the early to mid-fourth millennium BC. Peripheral archaeological activity was identified near the houses. Additional radiocarbon dates may cast further light on the contemporanity of this activity.

Peripheral archaeological activity
A subcircular pit lay less than 100m to the east-north-east of the Neolithic houses. Occasional tiny fragments of burnt bone, several burnt worked flints and a considerable amount of Beaker pottery were found in the pit. It measured 1.18m north-south by 1.25m and was 0.23m deep.

Archaeological deposits were also found c. 100m to the north-east of the Neolithic structures. A series of post- and stake-holes was revealed. Seven of the larger holes formed a rough arc c. 9m in circumference. Most of the smaller stake-holes were clustered together to the north-east, inside this arc. Further north-east of these deposits the ground had been disturbed by machine activity during soil-stripping, where it had been partially scarped away. Although many of the recorded features were very deeply cut and would have survived such disturbance, no trace of additional features, truncated or otherwise, was found. No finds were recovered from these deposits.

A pit lay 20m from the arc of post-holes. This measured 4m north-south by 2.24m. It was oval in plan but very irregular. One piece of worked chert and one tiny sherd of decorated pottery, possibly Beaker ware, were found in it.

Approximately 235m to the north-east of the arc of post-holes another small pit was found. It measured 1.44m north-south by 0.94m and was 0.54m deep. It contained a large quantity of early prehistoric pottery, possibly grooved ware, as well as worked stone. This feature was at the edge of the sand-pit. Similar features may lie adjacent to it outside the development area.

Brownstown townland
Further monitoring was carried out 800m south of the Neolithic houses, on the side of a gently rising hill, where limited soil-stripping was undertaken. During the course of this work three small pits, one post-hole, and part of a large curvilinear feature were uncovered.

The pits were small, charcoal-rich features c. 0.6-0.8m in diameter. Cremated bone fragments were present in one of these, and a flint thumbnail scraper in another.

A section was put through the curvilinear feature to reveal a V-shaped ditch, 0.5m deep and 2m wide. The feature was traced over 23m. Both ends continued under the surrounding topsoil, suggesting that it is part of a larger circular enclosure. It probably represents the ploughed-out remains of an enclosure, with a shallow ditch surviving. It is likely that the remainder of the feature survives under the surrounding ploughsoil. The topsoil was backfilled after the section had been dug, and no development works were undertaken in this area.

These features appear to represent a phase of Bronze Age activity, not unusual given the large amount of previously recorded Bronze Age activity in the surrounding parts of north Kildare, as well as the presence of upstanding monuments.

Peripheral activity associated with Neolithic settlement
A geophysical survey was conducted in advance of the expansion of a sand quarry at Corbally, Co. Kildare. The geophysical survey was carried out adjacent to the site of three Neolithic houses, uncovered by excavation. A 20m x 40m area was surveyed; four test-trenches were subsequently opened to calibrate the results.

The geophysical surveying was conducted in June and July 1998, while the Neolithic structures were still under excavation. Both magnetic susceptibility and magnetic gradiometry surveys were conducted. A series of positive anomalies was identified by the magnetic susceptibility survey, and a series of positive and negative anomalies was identified by the magnetic gradiometry survey. However, these anomalies did not suggest the presence of coherent archaeological deposits consistent with the Neolithic houses. The test-trenches revealed several isolated post- and stake-holes. However, most of the anomalies highlighted by the geophysical surveys proved to relate to subsoil changes and not to archaeological deposits.

When the area was fully stripped of topsoil this pattern of isolated ephemeral small features continued. In spite of its close proximity to the Neolithic houses, no large-scale archaeological deposits were revealed.

Proximity to Neolithic settlement
Limited topsoil-stripping was undertaken to the north-west of where substantial Neolithic deposits were previously revealed, including the remains of three Neolithic houses (Excavations 1998, 103-4). No features or finds of archaeological significance were revealed during this phase of topsoil-stripping.

Proximity to Neolithic settlement
Topsoil-stripping was undertaken on a small area several hundred metres east of where substantial Neolithic deposits were revealed in 1998 (Excavations 1998, 103-4, 98E0094). No features or finds of archaeological significance were revealed.

This licence covers the Phase 2 development of the quarry. The area lies in the fields to the south and west of the present quarry and the former location of the three Neolithic houses. Both fields have been walked, and some possible prehistoric artefacts were noted. Charcoal spreads were noted in both fields. The extent of archaeological material from this particular site and its immediate hinterland emphasises its archaeological importance and the need for continued monitoring over this site.

Monitoring took place of topsoil-stripping by a bulldozer with a 4m blade. In the course of the stripping 24 areas of archaeological potential were identified. The features exposed vary from quite ephemeral features to substantial spreads of burned material with visible structural features, including one definite rectangular structure. The area of the spoilheaps remained untested. Work will continued on this site in 2001.

Testing – various
Preliminary work under this licence concentrated on the features exposed in the northern corner of Field 4. All of these features lay on a very gradual north-easterly facing slope that opened onto a mature field boundary and ultimately gave way to the present pit. Most of the features tested were of some archaeological significance.

Area 9 tested as a thin lens of dark soil within a light gravel matrix. The deposit contained no evidence for charcoal and is probably the result of soil staining through the decay of the prevalent mudstone.

Area 10 was initially revealed as a single subcircular feature, defined by dark, charcoal-rich soil contained within a sandy natural. Area 10 is the subject of a separate report; see below,.

Area 8 was defined as an extensive linear feature, possibly a ditch, running in a south-easterly direction. Initial testing delimited the feature as being 0.15-0.2m in depth, with a fill consistent with natural silting as against deliberate infilling. Sections cut through Area 8 show the feature to be in excess of 4.5m in width and over 0.6m in depth. In total three fills were recorded, all of which appeared to be naturally deposited through the process of silting.

Area 7 was an amorphous group of possible post-holes. Excavation demonstrated that these features lost definition and did not display either a clear plan or a definite profile, which may be representative of root activity. The features follow no distinctive pattern and may be surface manifestations of a large subsurface disturbance like a tree bowl.

Area 6 first appeared as a localised area of soil discoloration with some charcoal content. Subsequent surface clearance expanded this discoloration into an extensive spread of charcoal flecking and oxidised clay. The features were tested and found to be of no real substance and therefore of little archaeological significance.

Area 5, as with Area 6, originally appeared during soil-stripping as an area of soil discoloration with some charcoal content. It appears to be the remains of surface burning, probably associated with tree clearance. It was not of archaeological significance.

F.31 (Area 25) was revealed during later topsoil-stripping to allow access to the extension for extraction of boulder clay. It takes the form of a linear soil discoloration running south-south-west/north-north-east. When tested the feature showed as a ditch with moderately sloping sides and a slightly concave base. The ditch contained four distinct fills, all of which appear natural.

This licence was extended to cover testing on features to the west of the site, which were unearthed during soil reduction under extensions to licence 00E0864 (monitoring – see below, No. 631). This phase of testing was quite inconclusive but did allow for an archaeological assessment of some of the features on this part of the site. All excavation and further testing fell under licence.

Prehistoric structure
Area 10, tested under licence 01E0078, proved to be the partial remains of a prehistoric structure, possibly Neolithic. It was excavated under this licence. This site consisted of five well-defined post-holes, which yielded coarse pottery sherds, and some struck flakes of flint. Structurally, some severely truncated features were recorded, including the corner of a rectilinear building defined by a slot-trench and stake-holes. Other features were noted but these were best recorded on plan as they were only millimetres in depth and cut by multiple plough-marks.

Field-walking, May 2001
May saw work recommence in this area with a field survey of the area directly affected by the extension to the pit. Both fields had been ploughed, harrowed and planted with a cereal crop. This allowed for extensive field-walking specifically for the recovery of artefact assemblages that might identify areas of archaeological potential within the adjacent ploughlands. The artefacts recovered identified areas of potential to the south-east of the present extension and to the south-west, approaching the ridge crest. The highest density of artefacts collected came from Field 4 , sixteen pieces of chert, flint and quartz. Four of the pieces are scrapers, while the majority are struck flakes, with one pebble core. The scraper forms are of a generic later prehistoric type (Neolithic/Bronze Age).

Neolithic houses
House 4
House 4 was a rectangular structure, 7m by 10m, aligned almost due east-west along its long axis. It displayed a clear opening or entrance feature in the south-west corner. The eastern wall trench showed evidence of at least three distinct phases of activity. A deep foundation trench with the burnt remains of upright oak planks forming the wall structure represented the earliest phase. Central to this wall structure were the remains of a fire-pit/hearth, which was located within the wall and appeared to be contemporary with it. Further remains of the oak planking were noted in the primary deposits in the wall trenches on the north and south wall slots. Parts of this structure may have been damaged by fire.
The next phase of activity saw the damaged parts of the house being replaced by more flimsy structural panels. These panels may have been raised in situ or prefabricated and placed in parts of the foundation trench recut to accept them. The fire/hearth pits on the eastern wall appear to have been a constant throughout the life of the house, as several recuts of the pits were noted. Some post-holes and pits were recorded outside the foundation line of House 4. The only internal features seemed to be the remains of an internal partition. A lazy-bed truncated the west wall of the structure and little evidence of this wall remains.
Artefacts from House 4 include quantities of Neolithic pottery, struck flint flakes and flint debitage. A polished stone axe was recovered from the primary deposits on the eastern foundation trench. A variety of flint scrapers were also recovered from this material. The highest density of environmental material also came from this area, including seeds, chaff and some hazelnut shells. This material should facilitate the recovery of radiocarbon dates. Dates for the structure are not yet available, but pottery analysis indicates that the house dates from the fourth millennium BC and is possibly contemporary with the other Corbally houses.
Licence 01E0299 was extended to cover the remainder of the site, as the whole area was being treated as an archaeological landscape.

House 5
House 5 was a rectangular structure, 7m north-south by 5m. The alignment of the structure set its long axis at right angles to House 4. The form of the house was clearly defined by well-preserved foundation trenches. Evidence in the wall slots defined a possible doorway to the structure to the south-east. The western foundation trench of House 5 showed extensive evidence for burning, which preserved the stumps of upright oak planking that formed this wall. The remainder of the foundation trenches presented evidence of planking but mainly in the form of impressions. The interior of House 5 showed clear evidence for an internal hearth, which was cut by a lazy-bed/drain that crossed the site from the west. There was also evidence for two internal partitions originating from the western foundation trench and extending inwards. Four internal post-holes and corresponding post-holes in the north and south foundation trenches verified the alignment of the structure while also giving an insight into the formation of the roof structure.

Very few artefacts were recovered from House 5 but are similar to finds from House 4 and include a very fine chert arrowhead. The pottery assemblage is almost non-existent.

House 6
The evidence for House 6 is not conclusive. Pre-excavation, the features that formed House 6 appeared rectangular in plan. These features became less defined during excavation. In general, the features were structural but may not all have been part of a single structure as in a house. The features may have defined structures relating to activities associated with House 5. They showed evidence of truncation and had been seriously damaged by a drain/lazy-bed that crossed the site from the south-west. Post-excavation work on House 6 has just commenced, with preliminary results available from the environmental sampling. This shows a high density of seeds and chaff, with the predominant species being wheat.
In association with Houses 4, 5 and 6 were areas of peripheral prehistoric activity. These have produced some struck flakes of flint and chert and occasional sherds of pottery. These features were relatively nondescript and appeared to relate to areas of domestic activity associated with the houses and their occupants.

Kilns and associated features
00E0864, 01E0299
The kilns were first recorded under licence 00E0864 but were ultimately excavated under licence 01E0299.

Prior to the completion of the House 4 excavation (see above, No. 630), soil reduction to the west of the site took place under an extension of the above licence, which revealed further features in this part of the site.

These features include a series of seven kilns. Four of these kilns were distinctive in form, having a figure-of-eight plan. All were aligned north-west/south-east. In general, they consisted of two earth-cut pits, one of which displayed a lining of burned clay. The pits were linked by a narrow flue rising from the firing pit to the actual kiln, which resulted in slight level variation between one side and the other. Large amounts of charred seed were recovered from the fills. The species represented within the sample were hulled barley, wheat and oats. The presence of oats in Ireland is not noted until early historic times, which suggests that these kilns may originate in the Early Christian or early medieval period. Some prehistoric flint flakes and coarse pottery have been recovered from the fill of these kilns. A further two kilns of similar form and alignment lay to the north-west. These were substantially larger and not quite as clearly defined. Again, quantities of charred seeds were recovered, as well as a plano-convex flint knife and some debitage.

Testing on features to the south-west of House 4 revealed a stone-lined kiln of substantial proportions. A pit lined with roughly coursed rubble masonry battered slightly inwards towards its base and reaching a maximum depth of 0.8m formed the kiln. From the basal fill two fragments of coarse pottery were recovered, along with some environmental samples including some seeds. Excavation revealed that it was quite a large kiln, with a firing pit and rake-out pit to the north-east linked by a flue to the actual kiln. Removal of the stone lining of the kiln towards the end of the excavation exposed extensive evidence for a burned clay lining. This suggests that this kiln was originally earth-cut and was later stone-lined. This appears to indicate that the earth-cut kilns pre-date the stone-lined kiln.

Over the whole area on the west to south-west of the site ephemeral features were found, including shallow ditches, pits and vague outlines, that could be interpreted as possible structures. In general, it was very difficult to separate these features into distinct archaeological entities. The overall impression is that the features constituted an extensive land drainage system or possibly vestiges of earlier land enclosure. Testing of these features supported this theory, as the majority of the features appeared to have naturally silted up.

Other features showed evidence of having been used for aspects of the agricultural activities involving the kilns. Deposits of charcoal and charred seeds constituted part of the fill of one of these ditches. Initial analysis of the charred remains from the kilns has shown some evidence for germinating barley. This would suggest that the area might have been used for the malting process, indicating that the kilns were multi-functional, being used both for the drying of wheat, oats and barley and for stopping the germination of the barley in the malting process.

Testing was carried out on this feature, which lay outside the stripped area to the south of the main focus of archaeology. This feature was quite unusual and posed questions as to its antiquity and nature. It was identified during pre-development research as a kettle hole of glacial origin. Under close scrutiny it did appear very regular, being almost perfectly circular, with a level base. The evidence would support the possibility that it was man-made. The possibility was that the feature might be a pond-barrow of Bronze Age date. The results of testing on this feature can only be classified as inconclusive.
Further extensions to the Corbally site are expected in 2002.

00E0864 ext.
In August 2002 Kilsaran Concrete Products Ltd recommenced topsoil-stripping in Field 4 of this site. This was designed to facilitate the extraction of boulder clay. The area to be stripped was immediately to the south-east of the area excavated in 2001 (Excavations 2001, No. 631). It was thought that this area might reveal archaeology as the stripping approached the ridge crest and that the density of features would diminish on the south-eastern slope of the ridge. This proved to be the case, although the density of features on the ridge was quite surprising. The area extended 130m from the boundary fence with Field 3 and 110m south-east from the limits of the 2001 excavations.

A total of 40 features were identified during the stripping process: six fire-pits, eleven kilns, eight enclosures associated with the kilns, three major linear features, one well-defined barrow, three burials, two stone-filled pits, four other features and one non-antiquity. These features were revealed during the initial topsoil-stripping, but excavation revealed far more. The excavation was carried out under an extension to licence 01E0299 (see No. 899 below).

Topsoil-stripping also exposed a section of a large enclosure, which appeared to straddle the north-west boundary of the field. The presence of such an enclosure was suggested in 2001. The density of agri-industrial ephemera appeared to suggest that there was a definite focus to this activity, and it seemed likely that some form of settlement had existed on or adjacent to the crest of the ridge. The first manifestation of this enclosure was the fosse, which was exposed by machine during the topsoil-stripping and was over 5m wide. A burial was also partially exposed, and topsoil-stripping halted at that time. A buffer zone was established 30-35m from the north-west field boundary. This enclosure was assessed separately (see 02E1310).

Enclosure with burials, kilns
01E0299 ext.
Features exposed during the initial and subsequent phases of stripping were excavated under this licence. These features are either part of the existing archaeological landscape as defined in 2001 (Excavations 2001, No. 627) or, owing to stratigraphic association, cannot be extracted from it. The methodology for excavation was to work west from the pit face, which also demarcated the end of the 2001 excavations. Most of the features were on the ridge top, which crossed the site from south-east to north-west.

Initial monitoring revealed eleven kilns, and subsequent monitoring during excavation exposed a further five, most of which had the characteristic keyhole/figure-of-eight plan. The kilns varied from c. 1.8m to over 3m long. Their alignment was, for the most part, roughly north�-south. Some of the kilns exhibited evidence of multiple uses, and two appeared to have been prepared but never used. An unusual feature in seven of the kilns was evidence of an enclosing ditch/trench. During excavation these enclosing trenches displayed no evidence of structural features.

Topsoil-stripping in conjunction with the removal of the soil dumps exposed the cranium of a human burial. This burial was found to lie west-east in a shallow, subrectangular grave-cut. The grave-cut was within the precincts of an enclosure defined by a fosse with well-defined openings to the west and east. The enclosure was almost circular, measuring 11.25m east-west by 11.5m. The ditch was 1.6-1.7m wide and 0.2-0.4m deep. The eastern entrance displayed evidence of flanking post-holes. The western opening was flanked by a single possible post-hole. The ditch fill was humic, with large quantities of animal bone, some of which appeared to be butchered. From this fill also came an iron spear-point. Within the enclosure five burials were identified and are being excavated. The central burial was in a well-defined grave-cut, completely lined by contiguously set pebbles. The body appeared to have been interred in a shroud, given the positions of the feet, legs, arms and scapulae. The other burials in the enclosure may have been buried in shrouds, but the lining of the grave-cuts was either incomplete or non-existent. The burials appeared to represent three adults/adolescents and two children (5-7 years old). The fosse of the enclosure was cut on the west by the ditch enclosing one of the kilns. This is conclusive evidence that the kilns post-date the barrow and possibly the burials.

One kiln to the south of the enclosure proved quite enigmatic. Initially it was thought to be a grave-cut, being aligned west-east. The fill was very friable, with many voids, large rocks and animal bones. On removal of this upper fill, a compact layer was reached that displayed evidence of in situ burning. This suggests that at this level the feature served as a kiln. This secondary fill was removed to reveal a skeleton. The skeleton was not interred in a formal way but was on its side with knees bent, one arm raised by the head and the other across the abdomen. Immediately under the body was another area of oxidised clay, suggesting that the cut originally served as a kiln. The nature of the burial and the subsequent reuse of the kiln suggest that the body was thrown into the kiln rather hastily and covered quickly.

The small circular pits found in conjunction with the kilns may cast light on the improving technology associated with the heating/firing of the kilns. The small keyhole kilns appeared to have suffered considerable failure through ignition of the cereals as a result of their proximity to a direct heat source. The larger, enclosed kilns showed evidence of repeated firings and possibly extended periods of use. The circular pits may be the key to the increased efficiency. During excavation these pits consistently produced quantities of charcoal, and they may have served to manufacture charcoal adjacent to the main kiln. The use of charcoal would introduce a more efficient heat source and a lower risk of ignition from sparks.

Most of the features excavated appeared to be associated with the large enclosure (see 02E1310). As was the case in 2001, monitoring exposed several linear features, which have silted up over time. When viewed on plan and in association with similar linear features identified through the gradiometric survey, they appear to correspond to field boundaries. The field systems appear to be focused on the enclosure and do not cut through its enclosing ditch. Therefore it is possible that the fields are contemporary with the enclosure. The burials in the enclosure may be later than the period of its occupation, but, if the site proves to be ecclesiastical, the burials may well be contemporaneous.

Early medieval burials/enclosure(s)
Topsoil-stripping exposed a section of a large enclosure that appeared to straddle the north-west boundary of the field. The presence of such an enclosure was suggested in 2001 as part of a risk assessment for this site. The density of agri-industrial ephemera appeared to suggest that there was a definite focus to this activity, and it seemed likely that some form of settlement had existed on or adjacent to the crest of the ridge. The first manifestation of this enclosure was the fosse, which was exposed by machine during the topsoil-stripping and was over 5m wide. A burial was also partially exposed, and topsoil-stripping was halted at that time. A buffer zone was established 30-35m from the north-west field boundary.

Under this licence, some testing was to be carried out on the fosse, the exposed burial recorded and lifted, and any surface scatters of bone collected. The features within the enclosure were to be planned, and, if possible, a geophysical survey was to be carried out over the immediate location of this enclosure to define its full extent. This non-intrusive approach was adopted to inform both Kilsaran Concrete Products Ltd and Duchas about the archaeological potential of this site and to enable both parties to make a considered judgement on how best to proceed. At the end of excavations in November 2002 this area was covered with heavy-gauge plastic and completely backfilled. Any small-scale excavation within the fosse was first backfilled with sand before being covered.

Topographical survey was carried out but revealed very little surface evidence of the enclosure. A gradiometric survey was undertaken (licence 02R134) in September 2002. This survey was successful in defining the extent of the curvilinear ditch, which extended beyond the field boundary into the adjacent field. This formed a large subrectangular enclosure measuring c. 45m north-east/south-west by c. 50m. The geophysical survey also determined the spread of the archaeological features in the next field. It suggested the presence of a far more elaborate archaeological landscape than previously suspected.

The features recorded are all cut into natural, which appears to preclude the likelihood of complex stratigraphy. Yet the area exposed is on the ridge crest, where the topsoil is at its shallowest and has already been scoured by years of weathering and repeated plough action. There are pockets of deeper soil cover just below the ridge crest. The gradiometric survey shows clear evidence of subsidiary enclosures within the main fosse. These may resolve into quite complex structures. The number of burials currently stands at eight and will rise above that figure. The scale of industrial activity on this site in respect of crop husbandry suggests that the enclosure is a high-status structure. Artefacts indicate a range of dates from the 9th century (a bronze clasp) to the medieval period (a pottery sherd). It has been suggested that the burials in this enclosure post-date the 7th century.

Geophysical Survey
Geophysical survey at Corbally in fields 3 and 4 identified a rectangular enclosure with associated linear features.

Moated site with later inhumations
Excavation of the site identified during testing revealed a rectangular site of the southern part was excavated. This measured 50m x 25m. The site was enclosed by a large ditch, 5m wide and 2m deep, with a causeway at SW. A shallow internal ditch contained animal bone and a complete horse skull. There was a possible circular structure in the centre of the site.22 inhumations in 20 grave cuts and an ossuary pit were recorded in the interior of the suite. Artefacts included iron knives, copper alloy stick pin, finger ring and bone pins.

Geophysical Survey
A geophysical survey was carried out in march 2004 in the area north of the enclosure excavated in 2003. The survey identified a large number of features across the site.

Test trenching
Test trenching was carried out in 2004 to identify the linear features identified to the east of the rectangular enclosure in 2003. Testing revealed several sections of linear trenches

Completion of the excavation of the enclosure, burials and linear ditches.
03E1752 extension
Excavation revealed the remaining part of the enclosing ditch of the enclosure, seven burials inside this . There were a number of ditch features including a possible rectangular house. A complex series of ditches ran in a northerly direction from the enclosure, enclosing a e series of smaller interconnecting ditches. East of the main enclosure was a possible sunken house.

Testing in Field 4
Test trenching in the southern part of field 4 revealed that two trenches continued from the northern area. To the south were two possible post holes, a cremation pit, a possible pit and a small area of fire reddened clay.

Monitoring in field 2 in 2006 revealed two segments of ditch extending from south to north, a human burial and a possible stone setting

The re-stripping of Areas 2 and 3 in field 2 at Corbally resulted in the identification of a complex series of linear features, potential ditch cuts, pits and further evidence of human burial.

Monitoring of the site of dry batch mortar plant at to the south of the previous work at Brownstown uncovered no archaeological material.

Geophysics investigation in fields 2 and 7
Geophysical investigation of fields 2 and 7 was carried out in December 2006. The survey identified a sub-circular enclosure with internal ditch and pit type remains in field 7. Weak linear anomalies, clustered positive responses and low level tends extended through areas 2B, 2A and 2C. Traces of a possible circular enclosure were noted in Field 2 and low level linear anomalies were noted to the north and southeast of this. See Appendix 3.9.3 for full report.

Geophysics investigation in fields 1 and 3
A geophysical survey (09R185) was undertaken in fields 1 and 3 in October 2009. Survey involved a magnetic gradiometer survey of 5.3ha in which a number of weak magnetic responses were identified. No clear responses of archaeological potential were identified and the surveyors concluded that the features were  weaker than those seen in previous surveys. Twenty-two anomalies were recorded.

Corbally and Brownstown
In February 2010 a programme of test trenching was undertaken focused on locations corresponding with features of archaeological potential identified in a previous geophysical survey (09R185). A total of 11 test trenches were excavated at locations agreed with the Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government (DoEHLG). These had a combined length of approximately 1,137 linear metres. One additional test trench was excavated to determine the nature and extent of certain features. No archaeological sites or features were observed within this site in the course of this assessment and no further archaeological works were required.

Environmental Impact Assessment of an innovative Geothermal Energy Project at Greenogue, Co. Dublin

In 2010 Dr. Charles Mount prepared the cultural heritage section of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for the first Geothermal Energy Plant in Ireland at Greenogue, Co. Dublin. The innovative renewable energy project involves a temporary surface drilling rig with temporary ancillary facilities to drill two subsurface wells at descending angles to a depth of 4,000m. Once the wells are completed a Geothermal Electricity Generation Plant with connection to the power grid will be constructed within an industrial unit. The project was granted planning permission by South Dublin County Council in 2011.

Schematic representation of a Geothermal Energy Plant.

Bord na Mona Archaeology

Bord na Mona harvests peat from 80,000 ha of land at locations throughout Ireland for energy production and horticulture. Dr. Mounts role is to assist with the preparation of tenders and contracts for fixed price archaeological work on Bord na Mona lands, oversee the annual excavation programme and advise Bord na Mona on archaeology. This is one the largest archaeological projects currently ongoing in Ireland.

Dr. Mount’s role in Bord na Mona is to:

1. Advise Bord na Mona on all aspects of archaeology relating to its estate and assist in the development of a post-survey archaeology strategy for its peatlands;

2. Liaise with the National Monuments Service/Dept. of Environment in relation to archaeological surveys carried out on Bord na Mona lands;

3. Agree with Bord na Mona the priority sites for investigation, taking account of site vulnerability and Bord na Mona’s contractual obligations and peat production targets;

4. Agree methodologies with the Department, and prepare tender documents for the excavation and recording of archaeological sites, by Consultant Archaeologists, on Bord na Mona’s peatland areas;

5. Be responsible for ensuring that the applications for excavation licences and applications for Ministerial consent are in order before they are submitted to the Department;

6. Oversee the conduct of all archaeological excavations, palaeo-environmental assessment and post-excavation analysis by Consultant Archaeologists, and ensure that all excavation reports are completed to a standard acceptable to the Minister and submitted in a timely manner;

7. Assist with the certification and validation of all archaeological costs;

8. Assist with the development of a GIS database of archaeology on Bord na Mona’s lands, which will be updated as surveys and excavations are completed;

9. Advise Bord na Mona on the long term management of sites that are set aside and preserved in situ.

See Bord na Mona website

Tonyquin, Co. Cavan Excavation Project

Since 2008 Dr. Charles Mount has been Project Manager of the archaeological investigations at the Tonyquin, Co. Cavan quarry. The work has been carried out on behalf of the Quinn Group, under the terms of the ICF Archaeological Code of Practice, as a condition of the planning permission to develop a quarry at the site.To date work on the site has been carried of by Northern Irish Consultancy, Aegis Archaeology, The Archaeology Company and Archer Heritage Planning. Archaeological Monitoring of soil stripping at the quarry site commenced in April 2006. In January 2008 the monitoring archaeologists began to encounter substantial numbers of archaeological features in the townland of Gortlaunaght covering a period of over 4,000 years. The sites included Neolithic pits and ditches with Grooved Ware pottery, a Bronze Age Ring-ditch containing a vase urn and the remains of a burnt mound, a rectangular Iron Age house, a large early Medieval enclosure that measured 65m x 50m with a surviving upstanding bank incorporated into a field boundary. To the north of this an upstanding ringfort was identified. This was subsequently excavated in the winter of 2008 and found to contain Bronze Age features within a later upstanding Early Medieval ringfort. Archaeological monitoring carried out in early 2009 to the north of this area in Tonyquin townland uncovered additional archaeological features. Excavations carried out in 2010 identified this as the remains of a Middle Bronze Age settlement associated with Cordoned Urn, Middle Bronze Age domestic pottery and some Neolithic Grooved Ware.

Development and archaeological investigations are continuing. In 2013 the remaining area of the quarry was the subject of a geophysical survey carried out by Target Archaeological Geophysics and part of the area was test excavated by Archer Heritage Planning.

The Middle Bronze Age House at Tonyquinn, Co. Cavan.

Excavation publications

Chapple, R. M. 2010. One point throughout time: archaeological continuity at Gortlaunaght, Swanlnbar, Co. Cavan. Archaeology Ireland Vo. 24, No. 1, 35-9.


Also see this illustrated talk by Robert Chapple on his excavations:

Below is a summary of the investigations carried out at Tonyquin available from

220126014.1544 325119568.1058
Five areas of archaeological interest were excavated at this quarry site at Gortnalaught, Swanlinbar.
The remains of a trapezoidal foundation trench for a building measuring 15.9m north–south by 6m at its southern end, narrowing to 3.5m at the northern end, was found at Site A. A large post-hole was excavated towards the centre of the eastern slot, while smaller post-holes were found all along the trench length, especially near the corners. No dating evidence was recovered from these features.
At Site B a large oval enclosure measuring c. 27.9m north-west to south-east by c. 40.2m enclosed an area of c. 2403m2. This enclosure was defined, for the most part, by a narrow, shallow ditch with an entrance to the north-west. Where bedrock was encountered, no attempt had been made to continue the circuit of the enclosure, leaving an interrupted ditch. Cut antler and metal slag were recovered from the ditch. A number of pits located outside the entranceway produced sherds of Neolithic pottery, including an almost complete round-bottomed undecorated vessel.
Within the enclosure was evidence for a number of structures. In the centre was located a circular ditched feature measuring c. 8m in diameter, probably the remains of a Bronze Age ring-barrow. The construction technique employed here was very similar to that of the larger enclosure, suggesting contemporaneity. Coarse pottery and cremated bone were recovered from this feature. A number of linear gullies were excavated within the enclosure along with a U-shaped structure, a subrectangular structure, an L-shaped slot and a curving arc slot. Half a rotary quern was recovered, along with a heavily fractured flat-bottomed vessel.
The eastern part of the site was defined by an upstanding bank that measured 45.25m in length. This bank had survived by becoming incorporated into the local field system. The associated field drain had mostly obliterated the original external ditch, though traces of it could still be seen in parts.
Three isolated pits of unknown date were excavated at Ext. 1. Five pits produced sherds of cordoned urn pottery in Ext. 2 and Ext. 3 contained a substantial pit of unknown date.
Post-excavation analysis had yet to begin at the time of writing.
Robert M. Chapple, Northern Archaeological Consultancy Ltd, Belfast, BT12 7DY.

Enclosure, bowl furnaces, Bronze Age structure
220148 325179
08E0806; 08R253
The excavations at Site C, conducted in advance of the extension of a quarry, were located c. 2.5km south-east of Swanlinbar and 0.6km east of the N87 Ballyconnell to Swanlinbar Road. The site was situated on a break of slope on a west-facing hillside above the valley of the River Blackwater which flows into Upper Lough Erne c. 11km to the north-west.
The enclosure was initially identified as a kink within the Gortlaunaght–Tonyquin townland boundary and was tested by NAC in June 2008. Only one feature, a boundary ditch situated to the south of the enclosure, was located outside of the confines of the enclosure. The enclosure measured c. 30m in diameter and was defined by a ditch c. 1m wide and c. 0.75m deep. The ditch had been truncated along nearly its complete length by a post-medieval/early modern field boundary. The entrance was located at the west defined by two well-rounded termini. Although no datable evidence was located on-site, a medieval date is postulated for the enclosure. This is based primarily on its relationship with features located within the internal area.
A number of features, concentrated in two areas, were located within the internal area of the enclosure. The first, located in the north-west, was a metalworking area with several possible bowl furnaces, a post-hole and a curvilinear slot-trench. These features had truncated a large pit that may have been related to the other area of activity. This area was located centrally within the enclosure and extended to the south and south-east. Contained within this area were two large pits, three possible structural gullies, and a number of stake-holes that were concentrated around a small area of heat-affected natural subsoil. These stake-holes formed a subcircular structure, with the slot-trenches possibly forming a second. A large spread of material overlaid a number of these features. This spread extended to the south and south-west, where it had been sealed by the enclosure bank and truncated by the enclosure ditch.
A number of prehistoric pottery sherds were recovered from a number of features from the central area, including the spread. Several sherds have been preliminarily identified as Bronze Age cordoned urns (1730–1500 bc in date) (Dr Charles Mount, pers. comm.). A possible cremation was located c. 10m west of the stake-hole cluster.
Lee Scotland, Ægis Archaeology, 32 Nicholas St, King’s Island, Limerick.


Environmental impact assessment of the impact of emissions on the Bru na Boinne World Heritage Site

An Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for a proposed cement kiln near the Bru na Boinne World Heritage Site required the assessment of the predicted emissions on the Neolithic artwork associated with a number of passage tombs.

Pollutants nitrogen oxides (NOx), particulate matter (PM10) and sulphur dioxide (SO2) may cause damage to decorated and inscribed stones. However, no limits currently exist in Ireland for the protection of national monuments or ancient cultural artefacts. The proposed kiln was intended to replace an existing facility and was planned to reduce the levels of emitted nitrogen oxides and PM10 particulates. An air dispersion model predicted that sulphur dioxide, the main element responsible for stone decay, would be of a very low level. Reference to the Stone Monument Decay Study 2000 (Pavia, S. and Bolton, J. 2001) indicated that significantly higher levels of sulphur dioxide were observed in central Dublin without evidence of stone sulphation. It was concluded that the low level of sulphur dioxide would not have a significant impact on the Neolithic artwork.

Decorated stone from the Knowth passage tomb.

The planning authority was satisfied with the assessment and the proposal was subsequently granted planning permission.

Archaeological impact assessment at Killough, Co. Tipperary

Dr. Charles Mount prepared the Archaeological Impact Assessment (AIA) of a quarry development at Killough, Co. Tipperary. Where the extent of a development is considered to be under the threshold that would require an Environmental Impact Assessment the Planning Authority may require an Archaeological Impact Assessment. An AIA will often consist of a Desk-based assessment combined with a site visit. In some cases the impact of the development on surrounding monuments may be an issue as in the case of this example from Co. Tipperary. In this case a well preserved Tower House situated close to the development was screened by a belt of woodland.

The Tower House at Killough, Co. Tipperary.

The environmental impact assessment of Cam Quarry, Co. Roscommon

Dr. Charles Mount carried out the assessment of an extensive area of pre-modern field systems as part of the EIA for the development of a new quarry at Cam, Co. Roscommon near Athlone. Historical analysis and examination of seventeenth century cartographic material combined with archaeological testing allowed the landscape to be reconstructed and the relative dating of the enclosures to be worked out. The project was subsequently granted planning permission by Roscommon, Co. Council.

Aerial photograph of the field system at Cam. Co. Roscommon.

Reconstruction of the seventeenth century landscape at Cam, Co. Roscommon based on historical cartography.