1989:009 - BALLYCOMMANE, Cork

NMI Burial Excavation Records

County: Cork Site name: BALLYCOMMANE

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

Author: Billy O'Brien, Dept. of Archaeology, University College Cork

Site type: Standing stone and Boulder burial

Period/Dating: Prehistoric (12700 BC-AD 400)

ITM: E 497571m, N 543668m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 51.636147, -9.479764

This monument was excavated over a three-week period in April 1989, as part of a training project for undergraduate students of University College Cork. The site is located about 3km north-east of Durrus village, in the centre of a broad valley which extends westward to form Dunmanus Bay. It consists of a pair of monoliths and a boulder monument of the type commonly associated with stone circles and alignments in Cork and Kerry. These appear to have been carefully positioned on top of a low east-west ridge overlooking pasture, to the south of the Four Mile Water River. The project involved the full dismantling, excavation and restoration of these monuments as well as investigation of the surrounding area. It was hoped to examine the chronological relationship between the boulder burial and stone row, principally through the recovery of samples for radiocarbon dating.

The largest structure at this site is a boulder of vein quartz, measuring 1.86m by 1.66m by 1.02m, supported by a U-shaped arrangement of three smaller stones. There is a fourth slab in the centre of this support arrangement. Removal revealed a thin deposit of dark sediment of unknown origin on top of a gleyed soil. No human remains or finds were uncovered. The absence of a pit underneath this boulder monument may be partly explained by the high bedrock profile at this location. No samples were recovered for radiocarbon dating.

A flat-topped monolith measuring 1.28m by 0.83m by 0.76m, set into a rock-cut socket and secured with packing stones, lies 2.43m to the north-east of this boulder monument. There were no features associated with this stone, but the area to the immediate south has been damaged by lazy-bed digging. Positioned 3.05m to the north of this standing stone is a second flat-topped monolith of similar appearance, measuring 1.29m by 0.76m by 0.56m, set into a clay-dug pit and secured with packing stones. A stone-lined pit, measuring 0.25m by 0.24m by 0.13m, was revealed 0.21m to the north-west of this monolith and, while this appeared to be a burial cist, no human remains or finds were uncovered. Charcoal from this cist has been submitted to Groningen for radiocarbon dating. A shallow northeast-southwest furrow running between the monolith and cist appeared to be stratigraphically earlier and may indicate pre-monument cultivation at this site.