2006:835 - Rahally, Galway

NMI Burial Excavation Records

County: Galway Site name: Rahally

Sites and Monuments Record No.: GA086–213, GA086–211 Licence number: a024/8, E2006

Author: Gerry Mullins, CRDS Ltd, Unit 4, Dundrum Business Park, Dundrum, Dublin 14.

Site type: Multi-period


ITM: E 565966m, N 725902m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 53.282342, -8.510358

At the request of Galway County Council, excavations were carried out at Rahally A024/3.8 on the route of the proposed N6 Galway to Ballinasloe road scheme, PPP Contract 3. The Rahally site consisted of c. 7400m2 of ground. The site is located in the parish of Grange, in the barony of Kilconnell.
The site is partly located on a hillside with a northern aspect, 1.75km south-east of the Raford River. The land in the immediate vicinity is well drained and in pasture. Some marsh land is visible from the hill. Rahally commands a panoramic view of the surrounding countryside.
A bivallate ringfort (GA086–211) is situated on the hill summit to the south and outside the road corridor. The remains of another ringfort (GA086–089) at Cloonyconaun are located on a hill slope c. 0.75km to the south-west. A field system (GA086–213) straddles the route of the proposed road corridor. The bivallate ringfort (GA086–211) is not being directly impacted upon but the development will impact on approximately 30% of the field system.
Archaeological features revealed during the course of the excavations include a series of curvilinear ditches, a miscellaneous linear feature thought to represent a dried shallow watercourse and a large subcircular pit. Three phases of activity are represented on the site, prehistoric, medieval and modern.
The prehistoric evidence to date includes five concentric ditches (3–6 and 8) representing a multivallate hilltop enclosure or hillfort. Ditches 3 and 4 represent the outer and inner elements respectively of a double ditch, which in turn is the outermost enclosing feature encircling the hilltop at Rahally. The former, 2m wide and 0.68m deep, consisted of three distinctive fills, the secondary fill containing animal bone and prehistoric pottery sherds. The exposed portion of Ditch 4 is presently divided into two segments, measuring 35m and 50m respectively. They are separated by a possible entrance. Both are consistent in width and depth, 4m and 1.2m. Similarly, five fills are consistent throughout, the uppermost containing moderate amounts of animal bone and fragments of a bone pin.
Ditch 5 averaged 3.8m in width and 1.1m in depth. Five to six fills have been identified. Sherds of prehistoric pottery were recovered from the basal fill. Finds include a damaged polished stone axe recovered from a secure context within the ditch and an unidentified late La Tène metal artefact (B. Raftery, pers. comm.).
Checkerboard testing in the west of the site revealed a further curvilinear ditch (Ditch 6) in three segments, each separated by a possible entrance. Exposed segments extend for c. 76m and are 2.4m wide and 0.8m deep; three fills were identified.
An additional enclosing ditch (Ditch 8) was identified on the hill summit. It is V-shaped, differing in profile to Ditches 3–6. A damaged flint scraper (subject to special analysis) was recovered from its basal fill. Ditch 8 may represent the innermost enclosure of the hilltop at Rahally.
Medieval activity on site is represented by two curvilinear ditches (Ditches 2 and 7) and two field system banks. Curvilinear in plan, Ditch 2 is located on the western extremity of the site and measures c. 50m in length, 1.9m in width and c. 0.9m in depth. Four fills were identified. Both the basal and secondary fills contained moderate amounts of animal bone, iron slag and a blue glass bead. This bead may be intrusive, possibly originating in Ditch 3, the outermost of the aforementioned ditches enclosing the hilltop, which was later cut by Ditch 2. The ditch also produced a human skeleton.
Ditch 7 occurs immediately west of the ringfort (GA086–211) and may represent its outer fosse. Concave in profile, the exposed feature measured 58.6m in length, 2.04m in width and 0.32m in depth.
Modern features revealed include a linear ditch (Ditch 1), from which a metal sickle was recovered, cultivation furrows and a large subcircular pit-like feature of unknown function.
Excavations are ongoing. Work was commissioned by Galway County Council and the National Roads Design Office and sponsored by the National Roads Authority.