Archaeological Report - Caherweelder 7 , Co. Galway (Ireland)
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Archaeological Report - Caherweelder 7 , Co. Galway (Ireland)

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The excavation of a charcoal-rich layer atop a gravel ridge at Caherweelder revealed an ...

The excavation of a charcoal-rich layer atop a gravel ridge at Caherweelder revealed an
ironworking hearth or furnace which produced two Iron Age dates. A single chert piece,
identified as a possible hone stone, was found, and along with a small but varied animal
bone assemblage, including cattle, pig, sheep/goat and red deer may represent detritus
from a broad time span. Charcoal analysis identified that a range of species were collected
for ironworking with alder dominating one lower layer and charcoal from hawthorn/
apple-type dominating a higher layer of the ironworking pit. The two radiocarbon dates
acquired for the site revealed dates tightly clustered in the Iron Age period (cal BC 85–80
–cal AD 54–59; cal BC 91–69 – cal AD 36–52).

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  • 1. Eachtra Journal Issue 8 [ISSN 2009-2237] Archaeological Excavation Report E3826 - Caherweelder 7, Co. Galway Iron Working Site
  • 2. EACHTRA Archaeological Projects Final Archaeological Excavation Report Caherweelder 7 Co. Galway Iron Working Site Date: October 2010 Client: Galway County Council and National Roads Authority Project: N18 Oranmore to Gort E No: E3826 Excavation Director: Linda Hegarty Written by: Linda Hegarty
  • 3. Final Archaeological Excavation Report Caherweelder 7 Co. Galway Excavation Director Linda Hegarty Written By Linda Hegarty EACHTRA Archaeological Projects CORK GALWAY The Forge, Innishannon, Co. Cork Unit 10, Kilkerrin Park, Liosbain Industrial Estate, Galway tel: 021 4701616 | web: www.eachtra.ie | email: info@eachtra.ie tel: 091 763673 | web: www.eachtra.ie | email: galway@eachtra.ie
  • 4. © Eachtra Archaeological Projects 2010 The Forge, Innishannon, Co Cork Set in 12pt Garamond Printed in Ireland
  • 5. Table of Contents Summary���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������iii Acknowledgements�������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� iv 1 Introduction ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������ 1 2 Background to the scheme �������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 1 3 Topography, geology and hydrology ������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 1 4 Archaeological and historical background ��������������������������������������������������������������������� 4 5 Site description ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 7 6 Methodology ���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 7 7 Results of excavation ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 7 7�1 SmithinghearthorSmeltingfurnace����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 7 7�2 Disturbedlayers��������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 7 8 Charcoal �������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 8 9 Animal bone ���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 11 10 Lithics ���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 11 11 Metallurgy �������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 11 12 Radiocarbon dates ���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 12 13 Discussion �������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 13 14 References �������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 14 Appendix 1 Context register �������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 15 Appendix 3 Groups and subgroups ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������ 16 � Appendix 4 Stone artefacts ���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 18 Appendix 5 Charcoal analysis ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������20 Appendix 6 Animal bone report �������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������23 i
  • 6. List of Figures Figure 1: Discovery Series Ordnance Survey map showing the route of the new N18 Oranmore to Gort road and the location of all the excavation sites� The excavation site at Caherweelder is highlighted� ��������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 2 Figure 2: The route of the new N18 Oranmore to Gort road overlaid on the first edition Ordnance Survey map (Sheet GA113)� The excavation site at Caherweelder is also highlighted� �������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 3 Figure 3: The route of the new N18 Oranmore to Gort road overlaid on the 25 inch Ordnance Survey map (Sheet GA113)� The excavation site at Caherweelder is also highlighted� �������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 5 Figure 4: The route of the new N18 Oranmore to Gort road overlaid on the Record of Monuments and Places map which is based on second edition Ordnance Survey map (Sheet GA113)� ����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 6 Figure 5: Post-excavation plan of the site at Caherweelder 7� ��������������������������������������������������������������������� 9 List of Plates Plate 1: Work in progress on the excavation���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 8 Plate 2: Postexcavation photograph of the hearth/furnace and earliest charcoal deposit� ���������10 Plate 3: General view of the hearth/furnace� �������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������10 ii
  • 7. Caherweelder 7-e3826 http://eachtra.ie/index.php/journal/e3826-caherweelder7-co-galway/ Summary The excavation of a charcoal-rich layer atop a gravel ridge at Caherweelder revealed an ironworking hearth or furnace which produced two Iron Age dates. A single chert piece, identified as a possible hone stone, was found, and along with a small but varied animal bone assemblage, including cattle, pig, sheep/goat and red deer may represent detritus from a broad time span. Charcoal analysis identified that a range of species were collected for ironworking with alder dominating one lower layer and charcoal from hawthorn/ apple-type dominating a higher layer of the ironworking pit. The two radiocarbon dates acquired for the site revealed dates tightly clustered in the Iron Age period (cal BC 85–80 –cal AD 54–59; cal BC 91–69 – cal AD 36–52). Townland Caherweelder Parish Killeely Barony Kiltartan County Galway Ministerial Order Number A045 E Number E3826 OS Map Sheet GA103 National Grid Reference 144622/216591 Elevation 25 m O.D. Site Type Iron smithing/smelting site iii
  • 8. iSSUe 8: eaChtra JoUrnal - iSSn 2009-2237 Final arChaeologiCal exCavation report Acknowledgements The excavation director was Linda Hegarty and the site supervisor was Paul Neary. The field crew included Rafal Wolanski, Anna Hellgren, Mikaela Fransson, Patryk Jawor, Myriam Velzquez Diaz, Seamus McGinley. The senior archaeologist was Finn Delaney and the post-excavation manager was Jacinta Kiely. Choryna Kiely, Fillip Debniak and Fiona Greene were involved with the administration of the project. Illustrations are by Ben Blakeman and Maurizio Toscano. Specialist analysis was carried out by Margaret McCarthy, Farina Sternke, Mary Dillon and Tim Young and the 14 Chrono Centre at Queen’s University Belfast. Joseph O’Brien was the resident engineer for consultant engi- neers Hyder Tobin. The project was commissioned by Galway County Council and was funded by the National Roads Authority. The Project Archaeologist was Jerry O’Sullivan. iv
  • 9. Caherweelder 7-e3826 http://eachtra.ie/index.php/journal/e3826-caherweelder7-co-galway/ 1 Introduction This report constitutes the final excavation report on an Iron Age smithing hearth or smelting furnace in the townland of Caherweelder in south Galway (Fig 1). The site was excavated as part of the archaeological excavation programme in advance of construction of the N18 Gort to Oranmore road scheme. The site was discovered during Phase 1 ar- chaeological testing of the new route under Ministerial Directions A045 (E3826). 2 Background to the scheme The N18 Oranmore to Gort (Glenbrack to Rathmorrissey) national road scheme was approved by An Bórd Pleanála on 7 June 2007. The development will consist of approxi- mately 27 km of dual carriageway, and all associated works. The area of archaeological investigations lies within the footprint of the proposed scheme as defined by the Com- pulsory Purchase Order (CPO) published by Galway County Council on 1 August 2006. Eachtra Archaeological Projects was commissioned by Galway County Council and the National Roads Authority to undertake Phase 1 archaeological testing and Phase 2 exca- vation of sites directly affected by the proposed development. 3 Topography, geology and hydrology The underlying geology in the surrounding area is Carboniferous limestone of the Bur- ren and Tubber formations bordered by Namurian shales and sandstones to the west, in Co. Clare, and Devonian old red sandstone to the east, in the Slieve Aughty uplands. Glacial till overlies the bedrock to varying depths (0–5 m) and the soils derived from the till are generally deep, well-drained brown earths. The topsoils are characteristically deep and dry and, enriched by the limestone parent material, support moderately good grass pastures. There are boulder fields and expanses of bedrock exposure typical of karst limestone country. Caherweelder 7 is located in a region of relatively good soil variability. In an area of 1 sq km around this townland there is a prevalence of deep, well-drained mineral soil, with a relatively small percentage of shallow, well-drained soil (16.4%) and deep, poorly- drained mineral soil (about 4%). Turloughs and swallow-holes are features of areas with an underlying limestone bed- rock which enables the groundwater and water table to produce sometimes perplexing drainage systems. A turlough is shown on the mid-1800s first edition Ordnance Survey map of the area directly to the south of the excavation site (Fig 3). The turlough appears to be fed by a spring marked as ‘Toberawoneen pool’. Water features appear to be a char- acteristic of the surrounding landscape as a well marked as ‘William Connolly’s well’ is shown to the east of the turlough and to the south another small well is marked ‘Peter’s well’. A small spring to the south of the townland is marked as ‘Pollbaun’. The second 1
  • 10. iSSUe 8: eaChtra JoUrnal - iSSn 2009-2237 Final arChaeologiCal exCavation report 135000 142500 150000 Derrydonnell More E3867 Coldwood 225600 225600 E3887 Moyveela 3 Moyveela 2 E3907 E3884 Moyveela 1 Ballinillaun 2 E3883 E3886 Ballinillaun 1 E3888 Lavally E3869 Roevehagh 2 E4012 Roevehagh 1 E3885 Caherweelder 7 Caherweelder 6 E3826 E3871 Caherweelder 5 Caherweelder 4 E3866 E3708 Caherweelder 3 Caherweelder 2 E3889 E3890 Caherweelder 1 E3880 214400 214400 Owenbristy E3770 Drumharsna North E3868 Drumharsna South E3872 Cullenagh More E3881 Ballyglass West E3870 Caherweelder 7 203200 203200 ¢ 135000 142500 150000 0 5 10 CPO line Excavation Areas Figure 1: Discovery Series Ordnance Survey map showing the route of the new N18 Oranmore to Gort road and the Kilometres location of all the excavation sites� The excavation site at Caherweelder is highlighted� 2
  • 11. Caherweelder 7-e3826 http://eachtra.ie/index.php/journal/e3826-caherweelder7-co-galway/ 144000 145200 RINN (ED KILLEELY) 217200 217200 BALLYNASTAIG (DUNKELLIN BY) BALLYNABUCKY (DUNKELLIN BY) CAHERPEAK EAST CAHERWEELDER KILTIERNAN EAST Caherweelder 7 215800 215800 KILTIERNAN EAST CARANAVOODAUN ¢ 144000 145200 0 0.25 0.5 CPO line Excavation Areas Kilometres Figure 2: The route of the new N18 Oranmore to Gort road overlaid on the first edition Ordnance Survey map (Sheet GA113)� The excavation site at Caherweelder is also highlighted� 3
  • 12. iSSUe 8: eaChtra JoUrnal - iSSn 2009-2237 Final arChaeologiCal exCavation report edition six-inch and 25-inch Ordnance Survey maps show a large drain running east from the site of ‘Connolly’s Well’. The drain was probably inserted to drain the turlough and the water originating from ‘Toberawoneen Pool’. 4 Archaeological and historical background The townland name Caherweelder derives from the Irish Cathair Mhaoilir. The first part of the placename is easily resolved as stemming from caher or a ‘stone fort’ and the first edition Ordnance Survey map illustrates and names a stone fort as ‘Caherweelder’ at the centre of the townland. The second part of the placename Maoilir is less transparent. It could refer to a family name such as ‘Mulder’ which would translate as ‘Mulder’s stone fort’. Maoil in Irish means to overflow and could be related to the turlough at the centre of the townland. Another possibility is that it derives from Maethail meaning ‘soft land’ which would be equally apt or Maol meaning bald, as in bald/dilapidated structure (roof- less), land,or even bald (hornless) cattle (Joyce 1913, Vol I, 395). We know very little of Irish Iron Age settlement and burial outside the major com- plexes of royal ritual sites and a small number of burial sites that may be Iron Age in date. Deficiencies in our knowledge of the settlements and habitations of ordinary people are so marked that Raftery referred to the majority of the population as the ‘invisible people’ (1994, 112). The majority of the evidence for the Iron Age period consists of finds of La Tène decorated metalwork and some pieces of stone sculpture. Examples of La Tène ar- tefacts/monuments from east Galway include the Turoe Stone located close to Loughrea and a Late La Tène metal artefact found at Rahally hillfort. A preliminary radiocarbon date from Rahally indicates a date of cal 900 BC. (Mullins in progress). Iron Age radio- carbon dates were obtained from excavations of pre-enclosure remains at an enclosure site at Loughbown 2, also excavated along the route of the new N6 Galway to Ballinasloe road (Contract 4). However, medieval dates were also obtained from Loughbown 2 and the exact nature of occupation at the site during the Iron Age is uncertain. A second-century BC Iron Age burial ring ditch was excavated at Deerpark, 10 km to the north-east of Caherweelder (Wilkins et al 2007). Barrows are burial monuments of the Bronze Age and Iron Age, which usually consist of a circular central area, which may be flat or slightly dished (a ring ditch), or domed (a ring barrow), and which is enclosed by a ditch and occasionally by an external bank. The distribution map of recorded prehistoric monuments close to the road scheme reveals two concentrations of ring barrows with seemingly corresponding concentrations of burnt mounds in close proximity. There is a concentration of ring barrows around the townland of Derrydonnell North (Fig 5) and a concentration of burnt mounds to the east of this located to the south and south-west of Atherny. There is also a concentration of ring barrows located to the south of Craughwell (Fig 5). This is known as the Dunkellin barrow group and has been studied by McCaffrey (1955). 4
  • 13. Caherweelder 7-e3826 http://eachtra.ie/index.php/journal/e3826-caherweelder7-co-galway/ 143880 144960 217000 217000 216000 216000 Caherweelder 7 ¢ 143880 144960 0 0.25 0.5 CPO line Excavation Areas Kilometres Figure 3: The route of the new N18 Oranmore to Gort road overlaid on the 25 inch Ordnance Survey map (Sheet GA113)� The excavation site at Caherweelder is also highlighted� 5
  • 14. iSSUe 8: eaChtra JoUrnal - iSSn 2009-2237 Final arChaeologiCal exCavation report 144070 145100 217040 217040 216000 216000 Caherweelder 7 ¢ 144070 145100 FULACHT FIADH RINGFORT - CASHEL WELL CPO LINE 0 0.25 0.5 EARTHWORK RINGFORT - RATH HOLY WELL Kilometres EXCAVATION AREA SOUTERRAIN SETTLEMENT CLUSTER Figure 4: The route of the new N18 Oranmore to Gort road overlaid on the Record of Monuments and Places map which is based on second edition Ordnance Survey map (Sheet GA113)� 6
  • 15. Caherweelder 7-e3826 http://eachtra.ie/index.php/journal/e3826-caherweelder7-co-galway/ 5 Site description The site is located in Caherweelder townland in the Barony of Kiltartan, Co. Galway, at NGR 144622/216591 and 25 m OD. The hearth/furnace was situated on a level plateau, on top of a gravel ridge. A gravel extraction pit, a cattle crush and tertiary road are located to the immediate north-west. 6 Methodology An area measuring 605 sq m was stripped of topsoil by machine under supervision to re- veal the extent of the archaeological deposits. The site was then subjected to an intensive surface clean by hand. The low mound of charcoal-rich sediment was divided into four quadrants by baulks running approximately east to west and north to south. The mound was fully excavated by hand and recorded using the single-context recording system with plans and sections being produced at a scale of 1:20 or 1:10 as appropriate. A complete photographic record was maintained throughout the excavation. The soil samples taken during the excavation were sieved and the resultant flots were examined by Mary Dillon for plant remains and charcoal analysis. Two charcoal samples were sent for radiocarbon dating to Queen’s University in Belfast. Slag from the hearth was examined by Tim Young. 7 Results of excavation 7.1 Smithing hearth or Smelting furnace A large, sub-circular, pit (C.8) measuring 1.9 m in length by 1.35 m in width by 0.35 m deep was found following the removal of a charcoal-rich layer. The main fill (C.7) com- prised a mid brownish black clay silt and a medium density of stone inclusions. It had a depth of 0.35 m. A lower fill (C.11) was a soft black charcoal-rich layer, dominated by alder, with small pieces of burnt clay. A basal fill (C.10) was friable mid yellowish white residue which measured 0.50 m by 0.10 m and had a maximum depth of 0.25 m. This was interpreted as an ashy deposit during the excavation and the absence of charcoal from this sample indicates it could be a non-wood ash. A side fill (C.9) measured 0.38 m by 0.18 m and was comprised of baked clay and frag- ments of iron slag and was formed due to the absence of a tuyére in the smithing hearth. 7.2 Disturbed layers A large layer of loose, dark brown sand (C.4) covered an area measuring 7.5 m north-east – south-west x 6.25 m x 0.20 m depth. This layer overlay a grey/black stony sand layer 7
  • 16. iSSUe 8: eaChtra JoUrnal - iSSn 2009-2237 Final arChaeologiCal exCavation report Plate 1: Work in progress on the excavation (C.5) which measured 4 m north-east –south-west by 2.5 m x 0.5 m depth. The loose sandy layers appear to have been mixed by tree root activity. 8 Charcoal In all, 60 fragments of charcoal were analysed from two samples. The samples came from the hearth/furnace (C.7, C.11). Charcoal was frequent in two of the samples, and absent from a third (C. 10) which was described as ash-like during excavation. The most common wood types identified were Pomoideae (hawthorn, apple, pear, mountain ash), hazel and alder. In all, eight wood types were identified. Both layers which contained charcoal had different proportions of species present with Pomoideae apparently dominating in the upper fill (C.7) and alder in the lower fill. Most of the trees present are typical of scrubland although the alder probably grew on the edges of the ad- jacent turlough. The layer dominated by Pomoideae is interesting as hawthorn and apple both produce good heat when burned (Anon 1999) and appear to have been deliberately selected for the ironworking fire. 8
  • 17. 144615 144632 ± 216601 216601 Caherweelder 7-e3826 4 8 216590 216590 0 5m 144615 144632 Figure 5: Post-excavation plan of the site at Caherweelder 7� http://eachtra.ie/index.php/journal/e3826-caherweelder7-co-galway/ 9
  • 18. iSSUe 8: eaChtra JoUrnal - iSSn 2009-2237 Final arChaeologiCal exCavation report Plate 2: Postexcavation photograph of the hearth/furnace and earliest charcoal deposit� Plate 3: General view of the hearth/furnace� 10
  • 19. Caherweelder 7-e3826 http://eachtra.ie/index.php/journal/e3826-caherweelder7-co-galway/ 9 Animal bone The animal bone recovered from the site was a small, but varied assemblage, including pig, cow, horse, sheep/goat, dog and red deer (Appendix 7). All of the bone was found in the charcoal-rich layer (C.4) which covered much of the site and this layer had such a loose, mixed, composition that it is possible that the animal bones were deposited over a very wide period of time. The first edition Ordnance Survey map shows the area to have been covered by scrubland in the mid-nineteenth century which could have caused a high degree of bioturbation resulting in the mixing of archaeological and modern bones. Alternatively, the bones may be primary deposits disturbed by later bioturbation but with little contamination. 10 Lithics A single piece of worked chert was found in the spoil heap during the excavation and has been identified by Dr Farina Sternke. Allied with the large amount of potentially modern animal bone on this site we cannot be sure how old chert piece. It could, however, also be Iron Age in provenance and related to the ironworking process. 11 Metallurgy The sieve retents from the pit fills contain a modest quantity of flow slags. These would be indicative of iron smelting in a slagpit furnace. The pit cut is much larger than is normal for a slagpit furnace (typically they lie in the 28–56 cm diameter range). The in situ slag shows a substantial concavity lined with a thin slag crust. Such hollows may be eroded by slag interacting with the wall of the hearth/furnace immediately below the blowhole. The structure therefore shows rather conflicting features. The structural aspect, in- cluding the apparent large diameter and the eroded wall of the structure by slag interac- tion reaching close to its base, is suggestive of this structure being a smithing hearth. The residues with the flll of the structure are, however, clearly from iron smelting. The structure might either, therefore, (a) be a smithing hearth, with the former po- sition of the blowhole indicated by the in situ slag mass, which has smelting residues dumped into it after it was abandoned, or (b) the basal pit of a smelting furnace, with an unusually deep level of interaction between slag and wall below the blowhole, and which has probably been widened by erosion after its use (or burnt materials outside the cut were removed during excavation). 11
  • 20. iSSUe 8: eaChtra JoUrnal - iSSn 2009-2237 Final arChaeologiCal exCavation report 12 Radiocarbon dates Radiocarbon analysis was carried out by the 14 Chrono Centre in Queen’s University Belfast. Dates were calibrated using Calib Rev5.0.2 (©1986–2005 M.Stuiver & P.J. Re- imer) and in conjunction with Stuiver & Reimer 1993 and Reimer et al. 2004. Dates were obtained from an upper fill and a lower charcoal-rich layer of the smith- ing hearth. Both dates correspond to the Iron Age period. A range of dates from similar ironworking sites is also presented below. Lab. Code Context Sample Material Years BP δ 13 C 1 sigma 2 sigma Period calibrated calibrated BC BC UB-11284 7 6 Hazel 2009+/-25 cal BC Iron Age 85–80 and 54-cal AD 59 UB-11285 11 7 Hazel 2021+/-23 cal BC Iron Age 91–69 and 60-cal AD 32 and cal AD 36–52 Site Name C14 Dates County 2 sigma Tonybaun 477 BC – 25 AD Mayo Newrath, Co. Kilkenny 397 – 312 BC Kilkenny Curraheen 1 375 – 185 BC Cork Transtown, N8 (oak) 364–349 BC, 313–208 Cork BC Lisnagar Demesne 1 360 BC - 60 AD, Cork (oak) Kilrussane, N8 (oak) 199–60 BC Cork Caherweelder 7 91 BC – AD 32 Galway 12
  • 21. Caherweelder 7-e3826 http://eachtra.ie/index.php/journal/e3826-caherweelder7-co-galway/ 13 Discussion Caherweelder is one of the archaeologically richest townlands encountered on this project. The road here was designed to avoid known archaeological sites but it subsequently en- countered a concentration of Bronze Age burnt mounds, probably peripheral to a core settlement. A cluster of early medieval sites, approximately 500 m to the north-east on the higher, drier ground perhaps indicating the better ground for settlement. It is hypothesized that the main factor affecting the location of the newfound sites in Caherweelder was the proximity to fuel. Both burnt mounds and this Iron Age iron- working site have high fuel requirements. The charcoal identifications from all sites in Caherweelder indicate the presence of a mixed deciduous scrub cover, involving a mosaic of species including hazel and willow with ash and other species present. Repeated cutting of the woodland for fuel would have resulted in adventitious coppicing. Iron Age metalworking sites (Becker et al. 2008, 35) have been found throughout most of Ireland and this site extends the activity into south Galway. We have no Iron Age settlement associated with the site but the richness of the Bronze Age archaeology which preceded it, and the early medieval sites to the west and north, which followed it, indicate that there may have been continuous occupation in the Caherweelder area from the pre- historic into the early historic period. 13
  • 22. iSSUe 8: eaChtra JoUrnal - iSSn 2009-2237 Final arChaeologiCal exCavation report 14 References Anon 1999 The burning properties of wood. www.scoutbase.org.uk/library/hqdocs/ facts/pdfs/ fs315001.pdf Becker, K, Ó Néill, J, and Flynn, L 2008 Iron Age Ireland: Finding an invisible people. The Heritage Council, Dublin. Joyce, P W 1867–1913 Names of Irish Places, 3 vols. London & Dublin. McCaffrey, P 1955 ‘The Dunkellin barrow group’, Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland,Vol. 85 (II), 218–25. Raftery, B. 1994 Pagan Celtic Ireland: the enigma of the Irish Iron Age. London, Thames and Hudson. Waddell, J 2000 The prehistoric archaeology of Ireland. Wordwell Wilkins, B, Bunce, A and Lalonde, S. 2007 Final Report on archaeological investigations at Site E2438, a ring-ditch with cremation deposits in the townland of Deerpark, Co. Galway. (http://www.scribd.com/doc/13400099/ Deerpark-Iron-Age-ringditch-withcremationdeposits) 14
  • 23. Caherweelder 7-e3826 http://eachtra.ie/index.php/journal/e3826-caherweelder7-co-galway/ Appendix 1 Context register Please see attached CD for Context Register. 15
  • 24. iSSUe 8: eaChtra JoUrnal - iSSn 2009-2237 Final arChaeologiCal exCavation report Appendix 3 Groups and subgroups Natural Deposits – Group 1 Topsoil - C.1 Description A soft dark brown clayey silt with a medium density of pebbles and stones which occured in variety of shapes and sizes. Interpretation This represented the topsoil which had formed across the site. Subsoil –C.2 Description A loose pebbly sand mid grey in colour. A frequent occurrence of various shape of fine and medium pebbles. Moderate to occasional occurrence of sub-angular coarse pebbles was also noted. Interpretation This was the underlying subsoil of the site. Mound- Group 2 Layer- C.4 Description The layer consisted of loose dark brown to black stony clayey sand (C.4). This deposit measured 7.5 m north-east to south-west, 6.25 m north-west to south-east and varied in depth between 0.1 m and 0.2 m. Interpretation Probably related to the adjacent metal working pit cut C.8 and may be discarded residue from successive fires. Layer- C.5 Description This deposit was a loose grey/black stony, clayey sand. This deposit measured c.4 m north- east to south-west, 2.5 m north-west to south-east and 0.5 m maximum depth Interpretation 16
  • 25. Caherweelder 7-e3826 http://eachtra.ie/index.php/journal/e3826-caherweelder7-co-galway/ Probably related to the adjacent metal working pit cut C.8 and may be discarded residue from successive fires. Subgroup 2 Context Number C.6 Description A soft mid black silty sand. This deposit measured c.1.7m north to south, 1.65 m east west and had a maximum depth of 0.22m Interpretation Probably related to the adjacent metal working pit cut C.8 and may be discarded residue from successive fires. Metal working pit Group 3 Pit C.8 filled with C.7, C.9, C.10 and C.11 Description This pit measured 1.9 m in length and 1.35 m in width and was 0.35m deep. The pit was sub circular in plan. The fill C.7 comprised a mid brownish black clayey silt and a me- dium density of stone inclusions. It had a depth of 0.35m. C.9 measured 0.38m by 0.18m and was described as iron slag. C10 was friable mid yellowish white residue which meas- ured 0.50m by 0.10m and had a maximum depth of 0.25m. C.11 was a soft black charcoal layer with occasional occurrence of flecks and small pieces of burnt clay. Interpretation The pit (C.8) may be a conjoined bowl furnace and waste pit. The basal layers consisted of a charcoal lens (C.11) and possible ash (C.10). Above these layers was a solid lump of slag (C.9) and overlying this was the main pit fill (C.7). It appears that this pit was a bowl furnace and any waste material was dumped directly next to it. 17
  • 26. iSSUe 8: eaChtra JoUrnal - iSSn 2009-2237 Final arChaeologiCal exCavation report Appendix 4 Stone artefacts by Farina Sternke Introduction One lithic find from the archaeological investigations of a possible prehistoric site at Ca- herweelder 7, Co. Galway was presented for analysis (Table 1). The find was associated with a burnt spread which covered a bowl furnace. Thickness (mm) Find Number Length (mm) Width (mm) Sub-Period Reliability Condition Complete Material Retouch Context Cortex Period Type E3826:3:1 3 Chert Hone Rolled No 59 40 9 No No Bronze Medium Stone? Age Table 1 Composition of the Lithic Assemblage from Caherweelder 7 (E3826) Provenance The find was recovered from the spoil heap (C3). Condition The lithic survives in rolled and incomplete condition (see Plate 1). Technology The artefact is a possible hone stone (E3826:3:1). It is smoothened and worn on all its sides and bears macroscopically visible striations on one edge. The possible hone stone meas- ures 59 mm long and 40 mm wide and 9 mm thick (see Figure 1). Plate 1: Worked chert, possible hone stone (find E3826:3:1) 18
  • 27. Caherweelder 7-e3826 http://eachtra.ie/index.php/journal/e3826-caherweelder7-co-galway/ 0 50mm Figure 1: Worked chert, possible hone stone (find E3826:3:1) Dating The artefact is typologically and technologically undiagnostic. Conservation Lithics do not require specific conservation, but should be stored in a dry, stable environ- ment. Preferably, each lithic should be bagged separately and contact with other lithics should be avoided, so as to prevent damage and breakage, in particular edge damage which could later be misinterpreted as retouch. Larger and heavier items are best kept in individual boxes to avoid crushing of smaller assemblage pieces. Conclusion The lithic find from the archaeological excavation at Caherweelder 7, Co. Galway is a possible hone stone made of chert which may date to the Iron Age and may be linked to metalworking activities carried out at the site. Bibliography Inizan, M.-L., M. Reduron-Ballinger, H. Roche and J. Tixier, 1999. Technology and Terminology of Knapped Stone 5. CREP, Nanterre. Woodman, P. C., Finlay, N. and E. Anderson, 2006. The Archaeology of a Collection: The Keiller-Knowles Collection of the National Museum of Ireland. National Museum of Ireland Monograph Series 2. Wordwell, Bray. 19
  • 28. iSSUe 8: eaChtra JoUrnal - iSSn 2009-2237 Final arChaeologiCal exCavation report Appendix 5 Charcoal analysis By Mary Dillon Introduction This report gives the results of the analysis of charcoal from samples taken during excava- tion at Caherweelder 7 (E3826) in Co. Galway. The excavation found a layer and furnace/ hearth. The samples esamined came from the fills of the hearth. The samples from this site contained charcoal, teeth, bone, slag, tiny flint flakes, hazelnut shell and land mol- luscs. Charcoal was frequent in two of the samples but was absent from one sample. Methodology Bulk soil samples were collected on site and were processed by the Eachtra. All charcoal fragments that measured 2 mm or greater in the transverse section were identified. Each fragment was prepared for microscopic examination by fracturing it by hand and thereby exposing a clean surface along transverse, radial and tangential planes. All three planes were examined at a range of magnifications. For reference literature the Schweingruber (1990) was consulted. The number and weight of fragments were recorded for each wood type. Results In all, 60 fragments of charcoal were analysed from two samples. The third sample (S8 from C10, an ashy deposit) had no charcoal. Hazel was present in the other two samples and this is recommended, and marked as suitable, for submitting for dating as it has a lifespan of just 80 years. In Figs. 1 and 2 percentage frequencies of the various wood types, based on fragment count and dry weight respectively, are shown. The most common wood types based on fragment count were pomoideae (33%), hazel (28%), and alder (22%). Spindle (5%), Prunus (5%), ash (3%), willow/aspen (2%) and oak (2%) were also present (see Fig. 1, Table 1). When the results of percentage weight are taken into account the results change slightly (Fig. 2, Table 2.). The main difference is that alder becomes more popular than hazel. Context Hazel Oak Pomoideae Alder Prunus Ash Willow/aspen Spindle and sample C7, S6 8 19 2 1 C11, S7 9 1 1 13 3 3 Table 1� Charcoal fragments sorted by sample and wood type 20
  • 29. Caherweelder 7-e3826 http://eachtra.ie/index.php/journal/e3826-caherweelder7-co-galway/ Context Hazel Oak Pomoideae Alder Prunus Ash Willow/aspen Spindle and sample C7, S6 0.2 1.3 0.1 0.05 C11, S7 0.6 0.1 0.1 0.9 0.3 0.1 Table 2� Charcoal weight sorted by sample and wood type Discussion The samples came from a possible bowl furnace which seems to have been used to dump waste. Contexts 7 and 10 contained bone, tiny flint flakes, animal teeth, hazel nut shell and slag. The charcoal assembleage Caherweelder 7 is similar to the near-by burnt mound sites Caherweelder 1, 2, 3, 5 and 6 (Dillon, 2009a,b,c,d and e) Willow /aspen Spindle Ash 2% 5% 3% Prunus Hazel 5% 28% Alder 22% Oak 2% Pomoideae 33% Fig� 1� Percentage fragment frequency Willow /aspen Spindle 1% 3% Ash Hazel 3% 21% Prunus 8% Oak 3% Alder 24% Pomoideae 37% Fig� 2� Percentage weight 21
  • 30. iSSUe 8: eaChtra JoUrnal - iSSn 2009-2237 Final arChaeologiCal exCavation report Pomoideae - Sorbus/Crataegus (rowan/whitebeam/hawthorn/crabapple). This char- coal type made up 33% of the assemblage and was the dominant wood type. Woodlands and woodland-related environments are the normal habitats for the various woody plants that may be represented in this charcoal type. An important habitat, especially for haw- thorn (Crataegus), is on the edge of woodlands (cf. Wilmanns and Brun-Hool 1982). Caherweelder 7 is the only Caherweelder burnt mound site where pomoideae is the most common wood type. Corylus (hazel; C. avellana). Hazel accounted for 28% of all charcoal fragments identi- fied. Hazel was widely exploited in both prehistory and historical times for its nutritious nuts and supple rods which were widely used for building. Its coppice-like growth form makes it relatively easy to cut and there are normally substantial quantities of dead wood available near ground level. Pollen analytical studies indicate that hazel was of great im- portance in Ireland for most of the Holocene. It is one of the more frequent native trees growing in south Co. Galway today. Alnus (alder; A. glutinosa). Alnus is represented at 22%. Alder was probably largely con- fined to damp/wet areas. It should be noted, however, that alder wood does not burn well but is commonly found in samples from burnt mound sites (ibid). Spindle (Euonymus Europaeus), Prunus spp. (includes wild cherry (P. avium), bird cher- ry (P. padus) and blackthorn (P. spinosa)), ash (Fraxinus excelsior), willow/aspen (Salix/ Populus) and oak (Quercus) were also present in smaller amounts. Spindle tree is a rarer tree than the others represented here. It’s a small tree that favours the rocky limestone soils of the burren and south Galway. Conclusion The samples from Caherweelder 7 furnace or hearth contained a lot of waste material. Charcoal was frequent in two of the samples, and absent from the third. The most com- mon wood types identified were pomoideae, hazel and alder. In all, eight wood types were identified and these were similar to those from the other Caherweelder sites. References Schweingruber, F.H. 1990. Mircoscopic Wood Anatomy. Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research, Birmensdorf. Wilmanns O., Brun-Hool J. 1982. Irish Mantel and Saum vegetation. In: J. White (ed.) Studies on Irish vegetation, Royal Dublin Society, Dublin, 167–174 22
  • 31. Caherweelder 7-e3826 http://eachtra.ie/index.php/journal/e3826-caherweelder7-co-galway/ Appendix 6 Animal bone report by Margaret McCarthy The animal bones from Caherweelder 7 were all recovered from the main layer of dark brown to black stony clay (C4) that underlay the topsoil. The bones were generally poorly preserved with high rates of fragmentation and a disproportionate amount of loose teeth, often indicative of poor soil preservation conditions. The post-cranial bone had clearly undergone a considerable erosion of the surface, due to post-depositional taphonomic processes and most fragments were brittle and eroded. Despite this, the samples produced a wide range of identifiable species in comparison to the two burnt mounds excavated in Caherweelder townland as part of the N18 Oranmore-Gort excavations. The distribution of mammals is shown in Table 1. In all, 140 bones were presented for examination and of these 56 were diagnostic to species. There is a certain consistency in the representation of skeletal elements linked presumably to taphonomic processes with high scores for loose teeth and fragments that could only be classified into size groupings. No complete bones were found, so no conclusion could be made concerning the size and sex of the animals present at the site. None of the bones showed definite traces of butchery relating to the dismemberment of the carcass but this is attributed to the poor condition of preservation of the remains. Horse Cow S/G* Pig Red Deer Dog LM* MM* Total C4 2 22 3 20 1 8 39 45 140 S/G* Sheep/Goat LM* Large mammal MM* Medium mammal Table 1: Distribution of mammals Cattle were the dominant species contributing 22 bones out of an identifiable sample of 56 fragments. Skeletal element analysis indicated that loose teeth predominated, ac- counting for 78% of the identified sample. The sample also included three skull frag- ments and a single ulna and vertebra. The age data available showed that all cattle were slaughtered when mature. There was a high proportion of pig bones and in common with cattle, the sample was dominated by loose teeth. Other identifiable pig bones included portions of skull, humerus, tibia, calcaneum and mandible. Epiphyseal fusion evidence from the tibia indicated that the individual had reached two years of age before slaughter. Sheep were represented by two skull fragments and a complete second phalanx from an individual over seven months at slaughter. The analysis of the bones also identified the presence of horse, dog and red deer at the site. The horse sample consisted of two molars from a single adult individual, over four years of age. Eight dog teeth were identified and these belonged to a large adult sheepdog. The proximal portion of a metacarpus of red deer was also identified and this provided the only evidence for hunting wild game at the site. The remainder of the assemblage consisted of 39 fragments of long bones from large-sized animals, probably cattle, and 45 fragments from medium-sized animals, probably sheep or pig. 23
  • 32. iSSUe 8: eaChtra JoUrnal - iSSn 2009-2237 Final arChaeologiCal exCavation report In view of the small size of the assemblage, little of interpretative value can be ob- tained from an examination of the animal bones from Caherweelder 7. The bulk of the identified bone came from domestic animals and the presence of teeth and skull frag- ments indicates that animals were slaughtered locally and were not brought to the site in the form of prepared joints. The data on pig seem to indicate that these animals were of more significance at Caherweelder 7 than at any of the other excavated sites on the N18 Oranmore-Gort route. The red deer bone came from the post-cranial skeleton. 24