1987:07 - 'Lisnagun', Darrary, Cork

NMI Burial Excavation Records

County: Cork Site name: 'Lisnagun', Darrary

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

Author: Jerry O'Sullivan, Dunboy, Lee Road, Cork

Site type: Ringfort

ITM: E 541263m, N 541569m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 51.623530, -8.848322

The excavation of Lisnagun Ringfort is Phase 1 of a project which will culminate in a reconstruction of the site. The Lisnagun Development Project was conceived and organised by members of Clonakilty Macra na Feirme to provide the West Cork region with a leisure, education and tourism facility comparable to those at Craggaunowen, County Clare, and the National Heritage Park, Ferrycarrig, County Wexford. Funds for the excavation have been provided by the National Manpower Service (Fits), Bord Gáis in conjunction with An Taisce, the European Year of the Environment and by public subscription. The site itself was acquired from Darrara Agricultural College. The duration of the excavation, having commenced on 17 August 1987, will be twelve months.

Lisnagun is situated on the brow of a gentle slope c. 200 ft OD. within a mile of Clonakilty Bay. The ringfort consists of a univallate circular enclosure with an internal diameter of c. 36m and an overall diameter of c. 49.5m. The enclosing elements consist of a dump-constructed earthen bank with intermittent stone revetment on the outer face of the bank and a more substantial dry-stone wall retaining the bank’s inner face to a height of three to four courses. A low counterscarp bank marks the outer circumference of the ditch. The ditch is interrupted in its western quadrant by modern backfill. Elsewhere it contains a considerable quantity of early slump from the banks. An earthwork section in the east reveals the ditch to have originally been cut to a depth of c. 4m below surviving bank height. Further sections have commenced in the south and west.

Further exploration of the ditch will be initiated as a series of 4m2 test pits. Prior to excavation, a series of surveys was conducted on the site by Martin Doody, Archaeology Dept., U.C.C. Magnetic susceptibility, phosphate analysis and resistivity surveys were conducted in the interior of the site. The results were generally either negative or non-specific.

The excavation of the interior consists of two cuttings of 275m2 and 335m2 respectively. The first cutting revealed that substantial damage has been done to occupation evidence by modern or early modern furrows. A shallow earth-dug souterrain traces an irregular course over c. 14m through the eastern half of the site. The souterrain was backfilled in antiquity. In the centre of the site, evidence was identified for one small wattled round house of c. 5.5m diameter, and more fragmentary evidence was recovered for a second successive house of uncertain diameter. A single hearth was excavated adjacent to the house sites. In the south-east a series of sub-rectangular timber lean-tos stood against the inner face of the bank. A small spread of gravel paving, c. 20m2, survived in this area, overlain with thin residues of occupation material.

Work on the second cutting is at a preliminary stage at the time of writing. This cutting will investigate the western half of the interior as well as possible entrance elements.

Finds from Lisnagun have been few to date. Most noteworthy amongst them are a fragment of polished stone axe, a single sherd of pottery (tentatively identified as of late medieval Irish origin), several crude hone stones and a small quantity of iron slag.

At the time of writing, no date has been established for the construction or occupation of the site.