Site AR36, Borris, Twomileborris
Flat cremation cemetery, medieval ditch, enclosure,
iron smithing
220443 157462
Excavation was carried out from November 2006 into 2007, in advance of the construction of the M8/N8 Cullahill to Cashel road improvement scheme. Prior assessment and centreline test-trenching was carried out in 2005 (Excavations 2005, No. 1388, A027/006). Site AR36 was discovered during testing of the route. The site was situated on a gentle slope running north to south in a field used for tillage. There were a number of phases to the site, from prehistoric to late medieval.
The earliest phase was a flat cremation cemetery of eighteen pits with no clearly defined central burial. The amount of burnt bone from each pit was relatively small; most contained only small pieces of bone. The pits were on average circular, 0.33m in diameter and up to 0.25m in depth.
Seventy metres to the south-east of the cremation pits and up the slope were four pits containing slag. Two of these were very disturbed and very shallow. The other two pits excavated were in better condition and contained slag in situ. They were on average 0.3m in diameter and up to 0.16m in depth. These pits are probably the remains of smithing hearths.
Running from the bottom of the site (its northern edge) up the slope and to the south-west was a large V-shaped ditch. The ditch was 105m in length, 2.6m in width at the top and 0.3m in width at the base and it was between 2.3m and 2.6m in depth.
On the top of the slope the ditch joined an enclosure ditch. Only a small portion of this enclosure was excavated; the remainder was beyond the edge of the road-take. The enclosure itself and the associated ditch appeared to be oval in shape; the section of enclosure ditch excavated was identical to that of the ditch which runs across the main site. It was again V-shaped with the same dimensions. The deposits within both were also very similar. Finds from the ditch include three iron knives, a small piece of copper alloy, antler, animal bone and a large quantity of slag.
Expert analysis of the slag has revealed that it is from the middle stage of the iron production/working process, with a large proportion of smithing hearth cakes.
Gary Conboy, for Valerie J. Keeley Ltd, Brehon House, Kilkenny Road, Castlecomer, Co. Kilkenny.

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