ME02785 - AUGHERSKEA - Burial ground

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The monument (1A/23/1) was partially excavated (02E1229) after pipe trench insertion had truncated it. Complementing the excavation, a geophysical survey (Licence no. 02R 143) and a detection device programme (Licence no. 02R 133) of the surrounding area were carried out. The site is situated on the lowest terrace (along the 90m contour line) of the south-facing slopes of the valley of the Derrypatrick River. The excavation was characterised by three major elements, the burial ground, abutted by agricultural features to the east and evidence for habitation to the west. The burial ground was delineated by ditches had a maximum EW dimension of c.63m. The earliest feature on site was a NS V-shaped linear ditch cut into natural subsoil. Radicarbon dating of a charcoal sample resulted in a date range of 660-870 AD (1280+/- 40BP). It contained a total of 16 burials. Inclusions of charcoal, shell, and animal bone and the presence of oat, barley, indeterminate cereal grains, weeds and hazelnut shells and two fragments of smithing hearth bottoms were recorded. A total of 187 burials were excavated, the substantial majority (40%) of which can be aged to the 36-45 year and over 46 years categories. A total of four burials had been subject to weapons trauma. Two males were decapitated and a further two the victims of attempted decapitation. Two of these males were buried in a double grave with an intrusive neonate. Another had suffered a series of blows to the head from an axe and post mortem mutilation with a sharp knife. Agricultural deposition (22.50m EW xy 5m) to the east of the burial ground was characterised by a series of drainage ditches and gullies cut by cultivation furrows. Radiocarbon analysis dated the furrows to the period 890-1160 A.D. Habitation evidence to the west of the burial ground comprised a series of ditches, gullies and pits. At least three smithing hearth bottoms, smithing slag and charcoal as fuel were recovered. A series of intercutting pits of indeterminate function were excavated. A sub-rectangular circular pit (3m diam. 2.4m deep) produced a radiocarbon date of between 760 -980 A.D. This date range was corroborated by dendrochronological analysis of wood taken from the fill which had a felling date of late 836 A.D. or early 837 A.D. The organic nature of the basal fills suggested cesspit material. Plant analysis identified including blackberry/bramble, hemp-nettle, cabbage/turnip/mustard, mint and pink seeds. A range of artefacts recovered included fragments of lignite bracelet, blades of whittle tang knives, a socketed gouge, a bone pin and a composite fragment of a D2 double sided bone comb. (Baker 2004; 2007; 2010) Compiled by: Christine Baker

Description Source: Department of Housing, Local Government & Heritage

Monument Details

53.5073, -6.6182

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