NMI Burial Excavation Records

County: Kerry Site name: BALLINSKELLIGS CASTLE

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

Author: John Sheehan, Dept. of Archaeology, University College Cork

Site type: Castle - tower house

Period/Dating: Multi-period

ITM: E 443383m, N 565464m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 51.819454, -10.271865

The excavation of this McCarthy tower house, which commenced in 1988 (see Excavations 1988, 20-1), was continued over a three-week period in June 1991 as part of the undergraduate training programme of the Department of Archaeology, University College, Cork. The investigation was concentrated on three areas:
(1) A 14m2 area of the interior of the castle, adjacent to the 1988 cutting.
(2-3) Two 15 sq. m areas outside the north-western side of the castle, to the north of the cutting investigated in 1988.

Area 1
Excavation of this portion of the castle's interior revealed that the material above the paved floor noted in 1988 largely consisted of a build-up of storm material, c. 0.5m in depth. It comprised water-rolled stones, pebbles and brown earth. Little stratigraphy survived, and both the artefactual and contextual evidence was very disturbed. Portion of the paved floor was removed to reveal a bedding layer of silty clay loam. No earlier floor level was evident. Finds from the interior largely consisted of post-medieval pottery, iron nails and fragments of corroded iron.

Areas 2-3
These two parallel cuttings, which abutted the castle wall, were excavated to test the possibility that there were ancillary structures on the side of the tower house. No such evidence was revealed, with the upper 0.4m of deposits comprising an accumulation of stone collapse, storm and beach material. Beneath this the foundation trench of the tower house was revealed. It was up to 1.3m in width and 0.6m in depth. No offset trenches, such as those noted on the south-eastern side of the castle during the 1988 investigations, occurred. The finds consisted mainly of post-medieval pottery sherds.

The bulk of the artefacts recovered during the excavation consisted of post-medieval pottery sherds, with gravel-tempered wares predominating. Other finds included a number of early buttons, early wine bottle fragments and a bronze book-mount.