1995:288 - Ballinagore, Wicklow

NMI Burial Excavation Records

County: Wicklow Site name: Ballinagore

Sites and Monuments Record No.: SMR 9:35 Licence number: 94E0175

Author: Barra Ó Donnabháin, 56 New Row Square, Dublin 8.

Site type: Early Bronze Age cemetery

ITM: E 714197m, N 674073m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 52.805544, -6.306278

In August 1994, a rectangular stone-lined cist was discovered at Ballinagore, Co. Wicklow, during the bulldozing of field fences. The site was reported to the National Museum and a limited excavation of the contents of the cist was carried out by museum personnel. An Early Bronze Age bowl Food Vessel, a stone battleaxe and a flint knife were recovered from the cist. No human remains were found. The site had been marked on the 1st edition OS map as two concentric circles, perhaps indicating a central mound with an outer enclosure. The site had been levelled before the 2nd edition survey and field fences had been built over it. A rescue excavation of the site was undertaken in November/December 1994 and concluded in April/May of 1995. This excavation lasted for thirteen weeks.

The monument is located between the 700' and 750' contours on a gentle south-east-facing slope that commands a good view of the Vale of Avoca to the north-east. It is 140m west of the Goldmines River. The remains of a portion of a low earthen and stone mound were found under the late 19th-century field fences. The mound survived to a maximum height of 0.8m above old ground level. This mound was immediately north and east of the cist uncovered in 1994 and may originally have covered that structure. An arc of a stone kerb was found within the mound. The kerb incorporated a small rectangular cist that contained cremated human bone. This burial had been disturbed by modern activity at the site. An undisturbed polygonal cist was found under the mound, 2m north of the first cist discovered. This contained an inverted collared urn which contained a cremation. The cist had been packed with charcoal after the urn had been put in place. Two more collared urns were found in pits adjacent to these two cists. One had been inverted over a cremation while the second lay on its side in a pit that had been filled with charcoal. A small deposit of cremated bone was found in this urn. A pit containing an unaccompanied cremation was also found in this area.

Post- and stake-holes suggesting the presence of a flimsy wooden structure(s) were found adjacent to the original cist on its eastern side. A complex of charcoal-filled pits was also found in this area. These pits contained hazel and willow rods that had been burned in situ.

Three ring-ditches were found to the west of the low mound. Two of these were penannular while one was circular. These were all 5-6m in diameter. The ditches were U-shaped in profile and were 0.6-1m wide and averaged 0.5m deep. There was a cist in the circular ring-ditch. This contained a cremation and a poorly executed vase Food Vessel. One of the penannular ring-ditches had a small pit at the centre that contained charcoal and some burnt human bone. It was not possible to complete the excavation of the third ring-ditch. A 1m-deep pit containing charcoal and human bone was excavated. Subsequently, the landowner uncovered a pit containing a cremation and what was probably a vase Food Vessel.

About 100 sherds of Neolithic pottery were found in the area that had been covered by the low mound. These represent six round-bottomed shouldered bowls. Many of these sherds were retrieved from the construction pit of the first cist discovered at the site.

A substantial V-sectioned ditch was found c. 16m east of the low mound. This ditch was 3m wide and 2m deep. This feature may be related to gold-prospecting carried out in the area in the first years of the 19th century.