1992:123 - ANNAGH, Limerick

NMI Burial Excavation Records

County: Limerick Site name: ANNAGH

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

Author: Raghnall Ó Floinn, National Museum of Ireland, Dublin.

Site type: Burial

Period/Dating: Neolithic (4000BC-2501 BC)

ITM: E 569257m, N 658143m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 52.673584, -8.454574

The site was discovered accidentally while stripping topsoil in advance of blasting at a limestone quarry. In the course of this work the digger dislodged a large stone exposing a cavern in which human skulls were visible.

Excavations were carried out over a period of 2 weeks in March 1992 and a further week in May. The site is located on the slope of a low hill at a height of c. 200 feet OD with extensive views to the north and east. The site consisted of an oval chamber 4.5m long and 2.5m wide with its long axis running east-west. The cavern had developed along a natural fault line which was visible in the roof. This had been blocked by a pillar-like slab 1 m in length.

In all, 3 complete human burials were recovered (all apparently adult males) and portions of a 4th. These were placed around the walls of the cavern at its western end. In addition cremated bone, some of it human, occurred in 2 separate locations. Associated with these remains were 2 complete vessels, substantial portions of 1, possibly 2, others and small fragments of another undecorated vessel.

Burial I: This consisted of a crouched inhumation. Incorporated into the limewash which extended over the whole area of the torso were substantial sherds of decorated bowl, apparently dislodged from its original position on a ledge above it. Sherds of a 2nd decorated vessel were found at the north end of the burial below the knees.

Burial II: A crouched inhumation, the knees flexed, resting against the wall of the chamber. At the base of the spine, a flint discoidal knife was found and the head of a bone pin came from the soil to the west of the burial. Sherds of an undecorated vessel of coarse fabric came from the area of the skull.

Burial III: This consisted of the disarticulated skeletal remains of a single individual. These bones appear to have slipped down from a narrow ledge to the north.

Burial IV: This consisted of a scatter of human bone over an area of 0.6m along the south side of the chamber, lying on the sloping fill of its floor. There were no large long bones, pelvises or skull. In and around these bones were small sherds of a coarse undecorated pottery vessel similar to sherds associated with Burial II.

Two decorated pottery vessels were placed on a ledge above Burial I–a necked bowl of Drimnagh type and a simple round bottomed bowl. Some burnt animal bone and a cow tooth were placed between them. Fused to the vertical face of the ledge between these was a perforated antler tine.