1973:0006 - INISHCALTRA (Holy Island), Clare

NMI Burial Excavation Records

County: Clare Site name: INISHCALTRA (Holy Island)

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

Author: L de Paor, Dept of Modern History, University College, Dublin

Site type: Monastic Site

ITM: E 569757m, N 685038m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 52.915324, -8.449666

In a short season in 1973, work was continued on two sites begun in 1972.

Site 4 The site described in published accounts as “St Michael’s” at the highest point of the island was further investigated. The burials exposed in 1972 were examined in situ by Dr Maire Delaney. They were found to be mainly of recently born infants. It had been customary to deposit in each infant grave a handful of quartz pebbles and a long stone pebble (sometimes a whetstone, sometimes a shaped stone of phallic appearance). The small square building, of which the base courses remained in the centre of the enclosure

Site 5 In the enclosure around the “penitential cell” occupation deposits were examined. The enclosing wall, of modern date was removed, and under layers of occupation material of llth-l2th century date, traces of timber structures were exposed, as well as pits. Some burials, not yet excavated, underly these remains in turn. The “penitential cell” was shown by excavation around and under its foundations to be modern in date, and will be removed when excavation continues in 1974. Immediately to the west of it, traces were found of a squarish small timber structure of comparable size. It is for the moment assumed, on the evidence so far available, that the “penitential cell” represents the last rebuilding, c. 1700, of a possibly ancient structure — probably a shrine.

Site 6 A wide cutting was run down the hill-slope between sites 4 and 5, cutting across the boundaries of two of the larger enclosures. Excavation is continuing.