1972:0031 - CLOGHER DEMESNE, Tyrone

NMI Burial Excavation Records

County: Tyrone Site name: CLOGHER DEMESNE

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

Author: Mr. R.B. Warner, Dept of Antiquities, Ulster Museum

Site type: Hillfort

ITM: E 653740m, N 851301m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 54.407459, -7.172229

The third season (1972) at Clogher has enabled a tentative reconstruction of the history of the site to be attempted.

Phase A. Neolithic. A scatter of Neolithic material over the site notably worked flints (including lozenge arrowheads) and Western Neolithic pottery (including a complete bowl). Preserved under the phase I bank was a Neolithic hearth within a curved palisade trench.

Phase B. Coarse pottery of possibly Early Bronze Age date, stratified below phase C.

Phase C. Coarse pottery with flattened club rims, a type variously ascribed to the Neolithic and the Late Bronze/ Early Iron Ages. Here stratified above B and below II, probably relates to phase I.

Phase 1(a). Early Iron Age. Building of the Hill-fort bank by dump construction from a shallow external ‘U’ shaped ditch. A bronze spiral finger/toe ring found low in the ditch would be at home in the British Late Pre-Roman Iron Age (Brit LPRIA), say first century B.C. or A.D. The Hill-fort was quadrilateral, not trapezoidal as suggested in earlier reports, and bigger than expected. The multivallations have not yet been explored.

Phase 1(b). Early Iron Age (the exact chronological relationship of (a) and (b) is not yet clear). A small (30m plus) enclosure inside the Hill-fort consisting, probably, of a wide flat-bottomed ditch inside which was a palisade, and outside which was a low bank, possibly timber framed, faced by a further palisade (once replaced). Near the bottom of the ditch were found a ‘safety pin’ brooch and the lip of a jug or small amphora, both of Brit. LPRIA or Early Roman origin, (in older parlance Brit. Iron Age C, or La-Tene III would be used). The British chronology is here used only because the find, datable objects all seem to have a South British (perhaps ‘Belgic’) background or origin, notably a portion of a small Iron so—called ‘fire— dog’ (more correctly ‘bull’) in, unfortunately, a derived position. The phase I structures were ruinous by the 5th century, and. the few internal features, such as post pits, do not yet make any pattern.

Phase 11(a). Later Iron Age. Reoccupation of the site, over the remains of the Phase 1(b) enclosure, by the 5th century A.D. (dated by a ?B-amphora? sherd and a slightly devolved zoomorphic penannular brooch of Kilbride—Jones D type).

During phase Ila several half hearted attempts were made to dig a ditch just outside the remains of the 1(b) enclosure.

Phase 11(b). Later Iron Age. Construction of the Ring-fort, about 60m internal diameter wholly within the 1(a) Hill-fort. The bank was piled on the line of the 1(b) bank but the clay was taken from a deep ‘V’ sectioned external ditch. The bank sealed layers belonging to 11(a), and ‘E-ware’ type pottery was found under and against it, dating its construction to around the 7th century or so. Occupation continued for some time but not into the Medieval period. A Late or Sub-Roman ‘toilet instrument’ of the pronged type probably relates to the II( a) phase, and stands ancestral to the Irish series of these objects.

It is probable that the ‘mound’ was created during phase II, partially destroying a small palisade ‘hut’ of perhaps phase I date. Again it is probable that partial rebuilding of the Hill-fort bank with an inner ditch (to create a cattle enclosure?) took place in phase II. This latter enclosure funnels down the hill on the east towards water.

Phase II would seem to relate to Clogher as Capital of the Airgialla from about the 4th to about the 10th century.