1991:115 - BALLYVANRAN, Tipperary

NMI Burial Excavation Records

County: Tipperary Site name: BALLYVANRAN

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

Author: Muiris O'Sullivan, LSB College

Site type: Ringfort- rath

Period/Dating: Undetermined

ITM: E 590439m, N 674260m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 52.819224, -8.141844

This site was investigated over a combined fifteen weeks during 1990 (see Excavations 1990, 50-51) and 1991. Prior to excavation it was seen to consist of at least two banks and ditches, one between the banks and one inside the inner bank. It was the presence of a shallow inner ditch that made a surface interpretation of the site difficult. Of the two entrances, one on the north-west and one on the south-east, the one on the south-east was known to be modern but the context of the second entrance was unknown.

The investigation revealed a third ditch which occurs outside the outer of the two surviving banks. The shallow inner ditch appears to be an infilled feature. It would seem that the site was originally a simple univallate ringfort with a standard external ditch. Subsequently the monument was elaborated as follows: the bank was thrown into the ditch outside; a further two banks with external ditches were constructed outside the infilled ditch; thus an enlarged inner area was surrounded by a more elaborate system of ramparts. In due course the material thrown into the disused ditch in the interior subsided to leave a shallow depression akin to an inner ditch.

Apart from the infilled ditch there was little surviving evidence for ancient activity in the interior of the site. The north-western entrance was found to be relatively ancient. A layer of cobbling extended inwards from this entrance and was laid down over the inner ditch in that area. An iron knife was found in one of the 'new' banks in 1990 and a second example was located in 1991. Two whetstones were also found, one of them in the fill of the disused inner ditch. Near the bottom of this ditch some worked wooden hoops were found in association with wood chippings. This evidence emerged in the final days of the excavation.

Ballyvanran, the name of the townland, would seem to a non-expert to be an anglicisation of Baile Bhanrion (as in queen), especially as a nearby townland is named Ballinree (Baile an Ri, as in king). It raises the question as to whether the reconstruction of the ringfort was associated with an increased social status for the occupants.

Balfe House, 6-9 Balfe St., Dublin 2