1990:083 - KNOCKADOON HILL, Lough Gur, Limerick

NMI Burial Excavation Records

County: Limerick Site name: KNOCKADOON HILL, Lough Gur

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

Author: Rose M. Cleary Dept. of Archaeology, University College Cork

Site type: Habitation site

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

ITM: E 564358m, N 640847m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 52.517829, -8.525149

The excavations at this site on Knockadoon Hill, Lough Gur, were financed by a grant from the Royal Irish Academy. Excavations were carried out on similar enclosed prehistoric settlements of 40 years ago, by S.P. Ó Ríordáin, and the results of that work have provided a framework for Neolithic and Bronze Age settlement studies for the Munster region. However, there have been many advances in archaeological sciences since those early days of excavations and the time has now come to apply new techniques to the recovery of information from an area where there was intense settlement by the first farming or Neolithic communities in Munster. Particular emphasis on this excavation is placed on the recovery of material which is suitable for radiocarbon dating techniques. These dates will provide a solid framework for the study of settlement in the area and for analysis of the vast quantities of artefacts recovered during the older excavations on Knockadoon. Furthermore, since little is known about Neolithic/Bronze Age economy at Lough Gur, it is hoped to recover new evidence for this from the faunal and charred plant remains on the present excavation.

The site chosen for excavation is a D-shaped enclosure with an internal diameter of 22m. A field boundary to the west of the main enclosure was also excavated to date the period of construction of the field systems of which there are many traversing Knockadoon Hill. Both the 'D'-shaped enclosure and the field system were constructed using a double row of kerbstones set contiguously and infilled with small stones and earth.

Prior to the excavation, a resistivity survey of the D-shaped enclosure and environs showed that there was intense human interference on the site. The excavation concentrated on the interior of the enclosure and uncovered a 'living surface' or floor area and the remains of associated structural posts and rubbish pits. As yet no definite plan for a building can be deduced but the postholes indicate that the structure was relatively large.

Several hundred pottery sherds and several thousand animal bone fragments have so far been recovered from this level. Other artefacts include stone axe fragments and flint arrowheads. There are also indications that there is an earlier phase of activity on the site.

The excavation of the field enclosure shows the construction details and finds from this area indicate that it was built in the prehistoric period.