SMR 19:40, 19:41
Testing and subsequent full excavation were carried out on foot of archaeological conditions imposed on a grant of planning permission by Kilkenny County Council to IDA Ireland for the construction of an industrial and business park at Loughboy, Co. Kilkenny. The conditions were necessary because of two circular enclosures shown in the area on the 1st edition 6-inch OS map but not now visible above ground. A report in the files of the National Museum of Ireland refers to the destruction of the two ringforts in the area in 1937, as well as the discovery of human remains. Test excavations were carried out under this licence in May 1998 by Sarah McCutcheon, during which archaeological features were uncovered. Full excavation followed in November 1998.
The enclosures lay on two low knolls on undulating ground with a general northwards slope towards Kilkenny City, which lies c. 1.5km to the north and is clearly visible from the site.
Despite extensive exploratory trenching no definite trace was found of the more easterly of the two sites (SMR 19:41). The depiction of this area in the 1945 edition of the 6-inch OS map suggests that the landscape had been modified, possibly by gravel quarrying. This is borne out by the evidence of landfill in the area in the form of extensive deposits of loose stone in a dark brown, loamy matrix containing fragments of brick and modern earthenware pottery.
The surviving remains of the most westerly site (SMR 19:40) comprise the base of a circular fosse enclosing an area c. 30m in diameter, with an entrance facing north. The fosse varied from 1m to 1.2m wide and from 0.53m to 0.65m deep, with a steep-sided V-shaped profile. The fill of the fosse contained a considerable quantity of animal bone. A secondary 'loop' ditch was also present, forming a subrectangular extension to the main site on the south, south-east and east sides.
The only original features that survived within the ringfort were three charcoal spreads in the southern half of the enclosure. These contained some slag and molten metal, and close to one a fragment of a decorated bone comb was recovered. The latter compares well with Dunlevy's class C1, which she dates to the 4th-7th centuries AD.
In addition a number of human skeletons were found, concentrated in the south-east quadrant of the site. These were uncovered immediately below the topsoil. Many were in a fragmentary condition, probably because of the destruction of the site in 1937, but it appears that at least nineteen individuals were represented. Several of the skeletons were interred in the fill of the fosse, indicating that they post-dated the ringfort. The exact date of the skeletons is not yet known.
Eamonn Cotter, Ballynanelagh, Rathcormac, Co. Cork.
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