NMI Burial Excavation Records

County: Roscommon Site name: KILTULLAGH HILL, KILTULLAGH

Sites and Monuments Record No.: N/A Licence number: 96E0179 ext.

Author: R.A. Gregory, School of Geography, University of Manchester, and D.G. Coombs, Department of Art History and Archaeology, University of Manchester, Oxf

Site type: Late Iron Age/Early Christian cemetery

ITM: E 552961m, N 774019m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 53.713725, -8.712574

In September 1999, excavations continued on the summit of Kiltullagh Hill, on the border of County Roscommon and County Mayo. It was anticipated that this season’s excavations would define both the temporal and the spatial limits of the transitional pagan/Early Christian cemetery excavated during 1994 (by F. McCormick, Excavations 1994, 76, 94E0030), 1996 (by D.G. Coombs and K. Maude, Excavations 1996, 95) and 1998 (by M.E. Robinson and D.G. Coombs, Excavations 1998, 179).

A 10m-by-8m trench was placed on the Roscommon side of the border. This was positioned adjacent to a standing stone and small ring-barrow, which had been the focus of the previous seasons’ excavations. The 1999 trench exposed natural deposits comprising a limestone rubble overlying a blue/grey pea gravel. Archaeological features cutting these natural deposits were infrequent. They included a small limestone quarry pit and, significantly, a grave. This grave was aligned east-west and contained a single articulated adult inhumation. No associated grave-goods were discovered. Examination in the field indicates that the skeletal remains were female, although this will be clarified when post-excavation analysis is completed. The character of the grave, the lack of grave-goods and its similarity to previously discovered inhumations at Kiltullagh indicate that it is probably the remains of an Early Christian burial. The date of the burial will be confirmed, however, by forthcoming radiocarbon dates.

A 7m-by-8m trench and four 1m-by-7m strip trenches were also excavated on the Mayo side of the border. These trenches were positioned close to an area that had been quarried in 1991 and in consequence had produced evidence of fragmentary human remains. Whilst two features were identified in the 1999 trenches, these, on excavation, were found to be modern in date. No burials or other remnants of ancient activity were discovered. This suggests that the earlier quarrying has destroyed any ancient features and that the limits of the cemetery have now been defined.