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A previous article referred to the fall-off in road-building excavations, in the wake of the crash of the Irish Economy. Discoveries in this area are continuing to come to our attention, however and a number were described at a recent NRA archaeology seminar.

Among the findings highlighted were a Mesolithic fishing trap, found on the controversial M3 works, in Co. Meath and a complex of Late Neolithic and Bronze Age wooden track-ways (toghers) and platforms, that ran through a raised bog, on the route of the N4, in Longford. These latter excavations also revealed the remains of bowls, spears and wheels, one of which, dated to the Late Bronze Age, was suggested to be the oldest wheel yet found in Ireland.

Most interesting, for me at least, was the investigation that found the original shape of a mound in Co. Tipperary was delimited, during the Neolithic, by a palisade and augmented with several additional layers of soil. Just how special is that? While palisaded enclosures are not uncommon, the encirclement of an artificially enhanced  hill is notable and it is hard to resist a wandering of the mind, despite difference in scale, towards the Silbury area, in England*. The townland name; Tullahedy, ‘Tulach Éide’, can be translated, tantalisingly, as ‘the dressed hill’. Over 3000 stone tools and 144 polished stone axe heads were also found.

Overall, a “more extensive and intensive settlement”, than had previously been suspected, was suggested by the range of Neolithic pottery recovered in the course of the road-work excavations. The Irish Times summary can be found in the link immediately below, followed by a link to a feature on the Mesolithic fishing basket.

 

http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/ireland/2009/0828/1224253402303.html

http://www.tarawatch.org/9000-year-old-fishing-trap-found-in-hill-of-tara-landscape-during-excavations-along-path-of-m3-motorway

 
*For a discussion of palisaded enclosures see; Gibson A. 1998 Hindwell and the Neolithic Palisade Sites of Britain and Ireland. In Gibson A.& Simpson D. (eds.) Prehistoric Ritual and Religion, 68-79. Sutton ISBN 0-7509-1598-6
For their occasional coincidence with exterior mounds see; Bradley R. 2007 The Prehistory of Britain and Ireland, 128-132. Cambridge ISBN 0-521-61270-8

Orkneyjar News

An introduction to a fascinating excavation, under the supervision of  Nick Card of  the Orkney Research Centre For Archaeology (ORCA) which has been going on for several years on the island  of Orkney.  The archaeological excavation this summer has  finally uncovered a large Neolithic building that is being hailed as a Neolithic ‘Cathedral’.

It’s impressive, 25 metres  long by 20 wide, standing to a height of 1 metre after excavation and there is talk that it might have been roofed.  To understand the context of this building the word ‘temple’ might be a better explanation, it stands between two great megalithic sites, The Standing Stones of Stenness and the Ring o’ Brodgar - the third largest stone circle in the British Isles. 

 This article by Sigmund Towries of Orkneyjar gives an excellent long description of the excavation, a reminder of a past when  megalithic stones were the crowning glory of a long dead religious belief.

 

Whoops been downgraded to a village hall – 19th September 2009

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/scotland/article6801292.ece

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