1986:29 - Ballybunion, Kerry

NMI Burial Excavation Records

County: Kerry Site name: Ballybunion

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

Author: Adelaide McCarthy, University College Cork

Site type: Shell middens

ITM: E 486475m, N 641248m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 52.510776, -9.672465

See Appendix 2This area was identified from early 20th-century literature. Here a number of primitive stone tools had been found associated with shell middens. A number of red deer antlers had also been found in the sand dunes. The occurrence of stone tools and the absence of domesticates again suggested early settlement. This area was examined at Easter 1986.

Unfortunately, the building of the new golf course within the last twenty years has led to the infilling of the main valley within the sand dunes where shell mid-dens had been observed (Shell Valley). Upon inspection of the sand dunes, four locations still seemed worthy of investigation: (1) a part of Shell Valley where less sand had been dumped; (2) a shell midden high up on the side of Shell Valley; (3) an area of shells exposed in nearby Rabbit Valley. (4) a test pit was also dug. A fifth area identified was not excavated as it lay on a fairway of the golf course. It was also likely to be associated with the nearby Early Christian monastery.

Site 1
A trench, 4m x 6m, was opened in an area where less sand had been dumped. It was hoped to uncover part of the extensive shell middens which were known to occur at the base of Shell Valley. However after 2m of sand were removed, this trench had to be abandoned without discovering any trace of the shell midden. It would appear that even in this part of the valley a considerable amount of sand had been pushed in. Augering in this area failed to penetrate the earlier levels of occupation.

Site 2
A small test trench, Im x 2m, was cut through a shell midden high up on the edge of Shell Valley. No diagnostic material was uncovered but this site is presumed to be late.

Site 3
After opening a series of test pits, an area 8m x 6m was opened in a hollow known as Rabbit Valley. Here a stone pavement, hearth and line of stake holes were uncovered. Although our attention had been drawn to this area by shells eroding out, no actual shell midden was found. Instead, a thin scatter of shells and animal bones were uncovered including some of domesticated animals. Samples of shell and bone are being submitted to Cambridge C14 laboratory. Although no diagnostic artefacts were recovered, it is felt that this site could be Iron Age or Early Christian in date.

Site 4
A test pit, 1m x 1m, exposed dense shell deposits and well preserved animal bone.