1970:18 - ORAN BEG td, Galway

NMI Burial Excavation Records

County: Galway Site name: ORAN BEG td

Sites and Monuments Record No.: N/A Licence number:

Author: Mr. Etienne Rynne, Department of Archaeology, U.C,G.

Site type: Ring-barrow

ITM: E 541963m, N 725529m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 53.276909, -8.870191

A small ring-barrow in the townland of Oran Beg, near Oranmore, Co. Galway was completely excavated over the Easter Period, 1970, The site was at the edge of a gravel quarry and consequently in immediate danger of destruction, for which reason the National Museum of Ireland agreed to sponsor its excavation.

The ring-barrow consisted of a very low encircling bank, about 11m. in overall diameter, with a shallow internal fosse; the central area averaged about 5.50m. in diameter,

A small quantity of cremated bones, hardly enough to be interpreted as those of a complete skeleton, was discovered near the centre. Although possibly the primary burial, it was not accompanied by any grave-goods, At the bottom of the surrounding fosse, in the north-east quadrant, another burial-deposit was discovered. This consisted of even fewer cremated bone fragments accompanied by over eighty tiny beads and some bronze fragments, all in a small area (about lm. in diameter) of dark earth mixed with charcoal. Five of the beads are of plain blue glass and the others are of yellow pasto, many of the latter being found in a fragmentary state. All the beads are featureless, and all are between 3mm. and 5mm. in maximum measurement, As some of them are fused together, it is apparent that they had been subjected to intense heat, perhaps on the funerary pyre.

The bronze fragments include three portions .of a small (infant’s?) armlet, about 3cm. in internal diameter, which was cast with diagonal ridges giving it a rope-like appearance externally. The only other object found was a small bronze artifact, 1.65cm. long, shaped like a tiny bar—bell. The purpose of this object is unknown, unless it may have served as some sort of toggle—like clasp for a necklace made from the beads.

This site can be closely paralleled with the ring—barrow at Grannagh, near Ardrahan, Co. Galway, which was “investigated” by Macalister in 1916 (PRIA, 33 (1917), 508-9) and completely excavated in 1969 by Mr, Etienne Rynne before its destruction by quarrying. The Grannagh ring-barrow produced bronze fibulae, coloured glass beads, iron fragments, etc., all of which indicated an Early Iron Age date for the monument. A similar date would seem appropriate for the Oran Beg ring-barrow.