1991:084 - 'The Caiseal', Knockroe, Kilkenny

NMI Burial Excavation Records

County: Kilkenny Site name: 'The Caiseal', Knockroe

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

Author: Muiris O'Sullivan, LSB College, 6-9 Balfe St., Dublin 2.

Site type: Passage tomb

ITM: E 640742m, N 631249m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 52.431206, -7.400891

After an initial five-week campaign in 1990 (see Excavations 1990, 40) the site was investigated over eight weeks in 1991.The Knockroe cairn lies partially under a 19th-century lane-way. The 1991 excavation focused on the northern part of the site where it had been inferred from surface observation that the perimeter kerbstones might be found beneath the laneway, The kerbstones were indeed located but, contrary to the situation along the southern perimeter where all the kerbstones were known to be decorated, no megalithic art was found. When the southern wall of the laneway was removed the chamber of the eastern tomb was revealed, on the basis of the orthostats that were uncovered, to have a complex plan. The investigations suggest that the cairn was considerably altered at a later time and one is left to surmise that it is with this activity that the local name for the site, The Caiseal, is associated. A portion of the original cairn appears to survive around the eastern tomb.As reported in the Irish Times (20th January 1992) the western tomb is aligned accurately onto the setting sun on midwinter’s day. This echo of the solstice phenomenon at Newgrange invites comparisons with the Boyne Valley, comparison which had already been emphasised in relation to the art (O’Sullivan, M. (1987). The art of the Passage Tomb at Knockroe, county Kilkenny, JRSAI 117, 84-95). Knockroe like Knowth lies near a river bend; like the large tumulus at Knowth it consists of a cairn having a simple western tomb and a complex eastern tomb, both decorated; and like Knowth the undecorated length of kerb is on the northern side. The apparently original part of the cairn on the eastern side seems to feature a build-up of quartz at the perimeter. Excavation will continue as will investigation of the chambers in 1992 or 1993.