NMI Burial Excavation Records

County: Wicklow Site name: LISCOLMAN, CO. WICKLOW

Sites and Monuments Record No.: SMR WI037-001 Licence number: E1194


Site type: Early Bronze Age graves

ITM: E 690278m, N 676462m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 52.831540, -6.660258

In March 1978 a short cist containing an inhumation and a bowl was discovered during land reclamation work at Liscolman, Co. Wicklow. The site was reported to the Gardaí at Tullow, Co. Carlow, who informed the NMI. Work then ceased in the area. The site was visited by Dr Joseph Raftery in April of that year, but no excavation appears to have taken place. The vessel and human remains were donated to the NMI by the landowner in 1982.

Location (Fig. 3.244)
The site is in the townland of Liscolman, east Co. Wicklow, close to the border with County Carlow—the border is formed by the Derreens River.376 The 1978 report followed an earlier report of the demolition of a mound at Liscolman in the early 1950s, which suggested that several burials had been disturbed and that a number of pottery vessels had been taken from the site. On that occasion, although the site was visited by Breandán Ó Ríordáin377 and by Mr Henry Wheeler, National Monuments Service, it did not prove possible to recover any of the vessels. One correspondent explained that the sherds he had taken home and which ‘were

Fig. 3.244—Location map, Liscolman, Co. Wicklow.

going around the kitchen windows for a long time’ had been eventually thrown out. Wheeler noted that there was a standing stone in the same field which was not marked on the OS 6in. sheet. A Temporary Preservation Order was placed on the mound. The site (SMR WI037- 001——) is located about 530m north-east of the mound that was disturbed during the demolition works in 1978 (SMR WI037-002——), which is reported here.

Description of site
The cist was not excavated but the Garda account states that it measured approximately 0.9m long by 0.3m wide and was formed of ‘large stones’ and covered with a capstone. The cist contained an inhumation of a young adult individual (1982:15) and a bowl. No details were recorded with regard to the disposition of the remains in the cist. A piece of animal bone was also found.

Tripartite bowl, 1982:14 (Fig. 3.245)
This is an intact tripartite bowl. It has a dark grey core with large plate-like grits and light brown surfaces. Traces of what appears to be soot are visible on one side. The rim has a slight internal bevel and is decorated with diagonal comb-impressed ornament. The neck is decorated with two rows of conjoined lozenges in false relief separated by pairs of discontinuous horizontal grooves. The lozenges are decorated with diagonal comb-impressed ornament. The central portion of the body bears a herringbone pattern between rows of impressed dots placed on the mid-ribs. The lower half of the body is decorated in the same manner as the neck. The base is decorated with a concave-sided lozenge.
Dimensions: H 11.1cm; ext. D rim 13cm; height 11.1cm; D base 5.6cm; T rim 7mm.

Fig. 3.245—Ceramic vessel, Liscolman, Co. Wicklow.

The human remains from this site have not been dated. The decoration of the vessel seems to fall somewhere between Brindley’s stages 2 and 3 (2007, 173–5), which cover the period 2080 BC to 1930/20 BC. It may be noted that in 2004 on the other side of the Derreens River, in the townland of Tobinstown, Co. Carlow (this volume, pp 81–2), an intact bowl was found during the picking of stones from a ploughed field very close to the riverbank. No evidence of a burial was discovered on inspection, but the distance between the mound at the northern end of the townland of Liscolman (detailed above) from which pottery vessels were removed in the early 1950s and the find-spot of the bowl in Tobinstown is only a matter of a few hundred metres.


Description of remains (1982:15)
The remains consisted of some very decayed bone fragments and some teeth only. One animal bone was also present. The surface of the bone was very decayed, with numerous small cracks on the surface and most of the outer layer gone. Only part of the shaft of the right femur and the mid-shafts of both tibiae were present. Since there were no joint ends and the bone was so decayed, it was impossible to say whether the bone was from an adult or an adolescent.

The following loose teeth were present:

The enamel of most of the teeth was cracked and fragmentary. The roots of 28 were not complete, so it is probable that the individual was a young adult less than 21 years of age at the time of death.
Attrition: there was no wear on the premolars and molar and only slight wear on the incisor and canine.
Calculus: slight calculus deposits were present on the buccal surfaces of the upper premolar and lower left first premolar. There were also light deposits on the lingual surfaces of the incisor and lower second premolar.

The remains appear to represent a young adult individual. It was not possible to determine the sex, however, as so little of the skeleton remains. The teeth were in healthy condition, with no caries and very little wear or calculus deposits.

376. Parish of Liscolman, barony of Shillelagh. SMR WI037-001——. 290347 176423.
377. While investigating the discovery of a pit burial at Ballyconnell, Co. Wicklow, Ó Ríordáin was told about the previous discovery in Liscolman and took the opportunity to make some inquiries locally