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Archaeological excavation report, E3540 Danesfort 2, County Kilkenny.

Jennings, RP and Coughlan, T (2012) Archaeological excavation report, E3540 Danesfort 2, County Kilkenny. Project Report. National Monument Service. Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Dublin..

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Irish Archaeological Consultancy Ltd (IAC), funded by the National Roads Authority (NRA) through Kilkenny County Council, undertook an excavation at the site of AR078, Danesfort 2 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 E3540 issued by the DOEHLG in consultation with the National Museum of Ireland for IAC. The fieldwork took place between 25 June and 24 July 2007. The site was identified as two phases of burnt mound activity, one in the early Bronze Age and a second in the early Iron Age. It is possible there were two separate phases of occupation in the Bronze Age. The earliest dated feature on the site consisted of a sub-oval, bowl shaped trough (Trough 1) with an adjacent hearth, identified by a smaller cut with scorched sides and base. The trough was dated to the early Bronze Age. A shallow extension to the trough on the west side may have served as a step. A number of small pit features were identified in the general vicinity of the trough but it is not clear if these were directly related, and indeed their function remains unclear. In the north of the site there was a very large and deep pit which may have functioned as a cistern or waterhole. The large pit was dated to the early Bronze Age but appears to be slightly later in date than Trough 1. It may therefore represent a second phase of Bronze Age activity on the site. The waterhole was not sealed by the main burnt mound spread however; there was evidence that some burnt mound material had been tipped into the feature, presumably after it was abandoned. Located between the waterhole and Trough 1 were a series of features that represent the Iron Age phase of occupation of the site. These consisted of a large sub-oval trough (Trough 2) and adjacent large pit to the west. A number of irregular pits were identified to the east of the trough and may represent storage or perhaps evidence of land clearance in advance of the activity associated with the trough. Two structures were identified, the first of which (Structure A) consisted of a number of circular post-pits in a horseshoe shaped formation around the east of the trough. While the pits did not seem deep enough to support large (long) structural posts, the regular arrangement may have supported a platform erected on shorter posts around the trough. Some small stakeholes appear to have augmented the structure. At a distance of 5m to the east of Trough 2 was Structure B. This consisted of two parallel lines of four postholes. It is again interpreted that this may have been the location for a small platform (1.5m by 0.5m). Both Trough 2 and Structure B have been dated to the early Iron Age. The overlying burnt mound deposits sealed almost all of the pits and troughs identified at the site, with the notable exception of the large waterhole. This probably indicates that the water in the waterhole was not heated, and it was a storage facility. It was not possible to identify which deposits were associated with the Bronze Age activity and which were associated with the Iron Age, as the mound deposits had been substantially levelled and disturbed over time. A number of modern drainage channels were also recorded, which truncated some of the features on the site. Four samples were sent for AMS radiocarbon dating. A sample of ash and Prunus sp. charcoal from trough fill C54 was radiocarbon dated. The 2 sigma calibrated result was 2464–2214BC (UBA 12186). A sample of Pomoideae charcoal fromwaterhole fill C111 had a 2 sigma calibrated result of 2116–1893BC (UBA 15553). A sample of cherry charcoal from posthole fill C122 was also radiocarbon dated. The 2 sigma calibrated result was 806–595BC (UBA 15554). A sample of Prunus sp. charcoal from pit fill C105 returned a 2 sigma calibrated result of 744–407BC (UBA 11000). The Iron Age phase on the site contains features which conform in many ways with the features commonly found on burnt mound sites in terms of a trough, pits and burnt mound spread. The trough (Trough 2) however, does appear to be particularly deep and at 0.70m is approximately twice the depth of an average trough. Another deep, large pit is adjacent to the west end although not as large as the Bronze Age waterhole. The function of this pit, and indeed Trough 2 needs to be considered given their particular size and depth and it would seem unlikely that they were designed for cooking. The volume of water in such deep features would be more easily heated (for bathing) than boiled (for cooking). Trough 2 was also surrounded by a series of possible post-pits which may have supported a platform around the trough or indeed a small enclosed or roofed structure over the trough. A second possibly small structure or platform (B) 5m to the east consisted of parallel rows of four postholes. Structure A, Structure B and the trough were all on a similar east- west alignment, which is not likely to be coincidental. The Iron Age phase at Danesfort 2 potentially represents a bathing place. This is significant in terms of our wider understanding of the function of fulachta fiadh/burnt mounds. It has been identified that this site type can have many functions and often the precise nature of the activity at excavated burnt mounds is unclear. The results of excavations at Danesfort 2 indicate that these varying functions can potentially occur in tandem when we consider the simpler trough and pits from the early Bronze Age; the subsequent unrelated very large early Bronze Age waterhole/cistern and the Iron Age possible bathing site. Danesfort 2 is an important site locally as it represents the first evidence of early Iron Age activity in the immediate area and it adds to the considerable evidence from the Bronze Age that has been gathered through excavations as part of the N9/N10 Phase 4. It is, however, also of regional significance, based on the nature of the burnt mound activity identified at the site, in particular the Iron Age possible bathing site. A number of potential sweathouses and bathing sites have been confirmed from recent excavations of burnt mounds across the country and the results of the Danesfort 2 excavation will significantly add to the further study, analysis and understanding of the varied function and form of burnt mound sites.

Item Type: Monograph (Project Report)
Subjects: C Auxiliary Sciences of History > CC Archaeology
Divisions: Biological & Environmental Sciences (from Sep 19)
Publisher: National Monument Service. Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Dublin.
Date Deposited: 20 May 2021 11:25
Last Modified: 26 Jan 2022 16:06
DOI or ID number: 10.7486/DRI.r20875431
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/14925
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