205770 127530; 205900 127450
Sites 125.1 and 125.3, in the townland of Cloghabreedy, Co. Tipperary, were excavated along a section of the N8 Cashel to Mitchelstown road improvement scheme. Site 125.1 was first identified during testing carried out during August 2005 (Excavations 2005, No. 1412, 05E0877), while Site 125.3 was uncovered during monitoring associated with the construction phase of the road scheme in April 2006 (A035/001, E2279, Carrigane/Owen’s & Bigg’s-Lot, Co. Cork).
Site 125.1 was located near the summit of a low hill that sloped down gradually to the south, east and west. Following topsoil-stripping the site consisted of a post-hole circle that contained a large number of internal pits. The post-hole circle had a diameter of 6.5m and was composed of ten post-holes, the majority of which measured 0.3–0.4m in diameter and 0.3–0.45m in depth. The post-holes were relatively evenly spaced, with c. 1.5m separating each one. Two shallower post-holes appeared to define an entrance feature leading into the interior of the circle. This south-east-facing entrance was roughly 3.5m wide. The interior of the circle was filled with a large number of pits (201) that contained charcoal-rich deposits. These pits were especially concentrated in the western interior of the circle. A number of these pits cut each other and some extended beyond the limit of the circle. No finds were recovered from any of the pits. A charcoal sample from one of the post-holes associated with this structure gave a calibrated radiocarbon date of 1140–920 bc, while a charcoal sample from one of the pits gave a calibrated radiocarbon date of 1431–1289 bc. The original purpose of this enigmatic monument remains uncertain. Its morphology was very similar to another post-hole circle identified along the road route (see No. 1882 below, Site 137.1, E2270) in the townland of Knockgraffon. The Knockgraffon post-hole circle appeared to be related to ritual activity and it is possible that the Cloghabreedy monument had a similar function.
Site 125.3 was located in a large field of pasture that sloped gradually to the east. Following topsoil-stripping the site consisted of two distinct areas of activity. The first area (Area A) contained two large hearth pits, a smaller hearth pit, two associated pits and a short line of stake-holes. The second area (Area B) of activity was located c. 40m to the south of the first and consisted of a hearth and four associated pits.
Two larger hearth pits and two associated small pits appeared to form the focus of activity in Area A. The hearth pits were oval in shape and measured 1.65–1.37m in length, 0.97–1.2m in width and 0.25m in depth. The base and sides of these cuts were fire reddened, demonstrating in situ burning. A much smaller truncated hearth was also identified 5m to the north-west of these cuts. The two pits were located c. 0.9m to the north of the two hearths pits. These U-shaped cuts measured 0.63–0.73m in diameter and 0.34–0.4m in depth. Fragments of pottery, including sherds of decorated food vessel, were recovered from both these cuts. A north-east/south-west line of small stake-holes, 9m in length, was identified c. 4.3m to the south-east of the two large hearth pits. These appear to represent the remains of a short fence or windbreak.
A circular hearth pit, measuring c. 1m in diameter and 0.12m in depth, was the focus of activity in Area B. The sides and base of this cut were fire reddened, demonstrating in situ burning. Four oval-shaped pits were found in close proximity to this hearth and were probably related. The site appears to represent temporary settlement activity of probable Early Bronze Age date.
Post-excavation work for these sites is ongoing.
Colm Moriarty, Margaret Gowen & Co. Ltd, 27 Merrion Square, Dublin 2.
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