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Archaeological excavation report, E3617 Danesfort 13, County Kilkenny.

Jennings, RP (2012) Archaeological excavation report, E3617 Danesfort 13, County Kilkenny. National Monument Service. Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Dublin..

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Abstract

Irish Archaeological Consultancy Ltd (IAC), funded by the National Roads Authority (NRA) through Kilkenny County Council, undertook an excavation at the site of AR077, Danesfort 13 along the proposed N9/N10 Kilcullen to Waterford Scheme, Phase 4 – Knocktopher to Powerstown (Figure 1). The following report describes the results of archaeological excavation at that site. The area was fully excavated by Richard Jennings under Ministerial Direction A032 and Excavation Registration Number E3617 issued by the DOEHLG in consultation with the National Museum of Ireland for IAC. The fieldwork took place between the 26 July and 28 August 2007. The excavation at Danesfort 13 identified a variety of different features from a number of different periods. Lithics from two small pits have been recovered typologically dated to the early Mesolithic. Another pit was cut by an Iron Age ringditch and this stratigraphic relationship could mean that it was contemporary with the early prehistoric pits. One of the most notable features on the site was an early/middle Iron Age ringditch. It enclosed an area of 5.80m and no internal features were identified. There was no evidence of a surviving mound or bank. The lower fill contained hazelnuts shells which may have been deliberately deposited. The upper fill contained small fragments of cremated bone that could not be identified to species. These may represent a deliberate ritual deposit but may also be residual from a nearby disturbed feature/deposit. A small pit to the east of the ringditch represented the location of a cremation deposit, which contained a large number of calcinated and fragmented bone. Most of the fragments were un-diagnostic and not identified to species but some were identified a pig with less identified as possible human. It is likely that the cremation pit was deliberately placed in proximity to the ringditch. In the middle Iron Age there is evidence that the site was the focus of primary metallurgical activity through the presence of a smelting furnace and associated possible bloom smithing hearth. A linear boundary ditch is thought to have been open at the time of the metal working on site as slag and metallurgical waste material was identified within its basal fills. This ditch was possibly constructed as a territorial division. A small area of metalled surface adjacent to the ditch may be a working platform and four pits located along the line of the boundary ditch all contained metallurgical waste. It is not clear whether the pits originally functioned as post-pits delineating the boundary which were subsequently used as waste pits or whether their sole function was as waste pits. Other features scattered across the site consisted of pits containing metallurgical debris that may represent further waste pits and a possible charcoal production pit. The charcoal was potentially for use in the furnace or the bloom smithing hearth. The excavation at Danesfort 13 yielded five pottery sherds (plus 10 fragments) representing a middle Neolithic globular bowl. The pottery was in a disturbed position possibly derived from an earlier pit. The pottery appears to have been exposed to intense heat after breakage resulting in the vessel shattering further which suggests that the pottery was accidentally incorporated into the iron working process. The lithic assemblage from the site is dominated by an early Mesolithic component represented by blade cores, flakes and blades. Three flakes and miscellaneous retouched artefacts are associated with a possible use of the site in the middle Neolithic. A small blue glass bead was also recovered from the site. Glass beads have been found in association with cremated human remains from a number of Iron Age sites in Ireland. Two samples were sent for AMS radiocarbon dating. A sample of charred hazelnut from ringditch fill C108 yielded a 2 sigma calibrated result of 503–384BC (UBA 10999). A sample of hazelnut from the bottom fill of furnace C51 was also radiocarbon dated. The 2 sigma calibrated result was AD7–125 (UBA 15552). Danesfort 13 was a multi-period site with Mesolithic, and early and middle Iron Age activity. The activity was also varied consisting of isolated pits, a ringditch and associated cremation pit, metallurgical furnaces and a linear boundary ditch. The evidence from Danesfort 13, in association with that of the nearby sites of Danesfort 6 and 8, adds significantly to the pattern of Mesolithic activity in the region and the identification of Neolithic globular bowl sherds is important in terms of the regional distribution of this pottery type. The Iron Age activity on the site is also of regional significance as there was previously limited evidence for such activity within these environs. In conjunction with the other excavated sites from the scheme, particularly in the Danesfort area, it forms part of a complex archaeological landscape displaying strong continuity of settlement throughout prehistory which is complimented by the early medieval and medieval recorded monuments in the surrounding landscape.

Item Type: Other
Subjects: C Auxiliary Sciences of History > CC Archaeology
Divisions: Biological & Environmental Sciences (new Sep 19)
Publisher: National Monument Service. Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Dublin.
Date Deposited: 20 May 2021 11:29
Last Modified: 03 Sep 2021 23:16
DOI or Identification number: 10.7486/DRI.r4958227v
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/14927

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