Fintan O’Toole to launch books on Clare archaeology

Clare Champion, Friday, September 14th, 2012

Fintan O’Toole is launching two new archaeological books in Clare Museum on Friday, September 21, from 8 pm to 10 pm. Borderlands and Beneath the Banner are the latest titles in an NRA series dedicated to archaeological investigations on national road projects.

They describe investigations on the route of the M18 motorway from Gort to south of Ennis. Artefacts from these investigations were first seen in Clare Museum in 2008 and 2011. The event will include slide presentations of some highlights from the investigations and there will also be open access to the museum’s exhibitions for anyone attending. This is a public event and is Clare Museum’s contribution to international Culture Night.

Borderlands describes archaeological investigations along the route of the national road project where discoveries were made from the Neolithic, Bronze Age, Iron Age, medieval and early modern periods. There was evidence for Neolithic and Bronze Age settlement at Rathwilladoon. Investigations of over a dozen sites at Caheraphuca widened the scope of enquiry into the burnt mounds or fulachtaí fia of the Bronze Age by bringing detailed pollen analysis and environmental reconstruction to bear on the little valley where these were found. Iron Age ringditch burials were recorded at Ballyboy. Iron Age metalworking was represented by a smelting furnace and charcoal kilns at Rathwilladoon and Derrygarriff. A group of exceptionally well-preserved early medieval cereal kilns was recorded at Curtaun, near a large ringfort.

Beneath the Banner describes 28 archaeological excavations along the route of the M18 Ennis Bypass and the N85 Western Relief Road. The results amount to a timeline investigation of human settlement and landscape change in the Fergus River valley, in central Clare, from early prehistory to modern times. Cremation cemeteries of Bronze Age to Iron Age date at Manusmore occupied elevated locations that seem to have had a special relationship with the Fergus estuary.

Cahircalla More is a very rare example of an early medieval ringfort that was occupied by a blacksmith and his forge. At medieval Clare Abbey, excavations for a parking area recovered important objects relating to its history as an Augustinian Abbey and, afterwards, a post-Reformation secular household.

The investigation were not confined to prehistoric and medieval times but also lovingly recorded the fieldwalls, trackways, houses and limekilns of a rapidly vanishing early modern landscape. Accompanying the account of all these discoveries is a series of short scholarly essays that explains their significance in the story of changing human communities in the central Clare lowlands over time.

<< Press Cuttings