1973:0007 - COOLOWEN, Cork

NMI Burial Excavation Records

County: Cork Site name: COOLOWEN

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

Author: D.C. Twohig, Dept of Archaeology, University College, Cork.

Site type: Ringfort

ITM: E 562258m, N 578961m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 51.961440, -8.549176

This excavation was under taken to investigate a ring-fort which had been much destroyed in the recent past. Road widening had resulted in the demolition of the ring-fort bank for approximately one-third of its circumference in the eastern part of the ring-fort. The construction of a lime-kiln on what survived of the ring-fort bank and the activity associated with such a structure resulted in further destruction. In mid 1973 much of the ring-fort enclosure was bulldozed in order to accommodate a beet storage pit. The depth of soil removed by the bulldozer varied considerably within the enclosure.

At the time of excavation therefore all that survived was a short segment of the ring-sort bank and a small area within the enclosure which had not been bulldozed. The line of the ring-sort ditch was not visible.

Excavation showed that the ring-fort consisted of a circular enclosure, the enclosing element of which was in the form of a bank of soil which had been quarried from a V-shaped ditch which ran circumferential with it, outside the bank. A trench which measured 90cm in width and 70 cm in depth ran along the inner edge of the ring-fort bank. The probability is that the trench contained a palisade which would have revetted the inner face of the bank. The ring-fort bank survived to a height of 1 .5m above the turf horizon on which it had been built. The ditch measured on average; width 2.5m, depth 2.0m.

A representative sample of both the disturbed and undisturbed areas within the enclosure was excavated. This showed that the enclosure had been frequently cultivated in the past. This was evidenced by lines of disturbance in the subsoil caused by ridge and furrow cultivation. A wide range of earthenware and willow pattern wares was recovered. These broken wares had probably been discarded onto a manure heap in a farmyard and were in that way transported onto the site.

There was nothing in the form of associated finds or structural features to suggest that the ring-fort had ever been inhabited. No charcoal or bone was recovered. Although it could be argued that cultivation and the subsequent bulldozing of the enclosure would have destroyed habitation evidence had it ever existed, the probability remains that had the ring-fort ever been inhabited some fragmentary evidence should have survived.

Excavation in the south-west quadrant showed that a lime-kiln had been built into the outer face of the ring-fort bank in the more recent past. Here the ring-fort bank was functional in the sense that it acted as a supporting structure for the cone of the kiln. The outlet from the kiln was at the same level as the bottom of the ring-fort ditch. The outer edge of the ditch at this point had been cut away so as to allow the burnt lime to be drawn away from the kiln.

Excavation failed to locate the original entrance to the ring-fort.