2003:1151 - Kilbane, Castletroy, Limerick

NMI Burial Excavation Records

County: Limerick Site name: Kilbane, Castletroy

Sites and Monuments Record No.: N/A Licence number: 03E1717

Author: Niamh O'Callaghan, for Eachtra Archaeological Projects, 3 Canal Place, Tralee, Co. Kerry.

Site type: Bronze Age flat cemetery and fulachta fiadh

ITM: E 661948m, N 756122m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 52.654734, -8.563218

Monitoring (No. 1150 above, 03E1382) was undertaken by Flor Hurley at a development site in the townland of Kilbane on the eastern side of Limerick city in the suburbs of Castletroy in late summer 2003. The remains of three fulachta fiadh mounds, cremations and possible cremations were recorded. Full excavation took place in October 2003 under the current licence.

The remains of two fulachta fiadh mounds were excavated, one found during monitoring and a second found as a result of the excavation. The remaining two mounds were located in the line of the access road and were not excavated at this stage. In Area 7, a layer composed of black silt with heat-shattered stones was recorded; it measured 10.5m by 8.5m by 0.2m deep and was located 5m from a small stream. Two large, shallow rectangular features (possible troughs) and five small circular pits were recorded under the remains of the mound. All of these features were filled with mound material.

The remains of the second possible fulacht mound were recorded in Area 8. It was composed of a layer of black silt with heat-shattered stones and measured 6m by 5m by 0.3m. However, when this layer was removed, no features were recorded below it, suggesting that this layer of fulacht-type material was possibly ex situ.

In Area 1, a ring-ditch and seven cremation pits were excavated. In some cases only flecks of cremated bone were recorded; however, a substantial amount of bone was recovered from four of the features. Occasional sherds of pottery were also recorded in three examples. The pits were generally circular in plan, with an average diameter of 0.5m and an average depth of 0.2m; the fills were composed of charcoal-rich silt. Three phases of cremation burial have been interpreted. The earliest phase involves a linear feature, F89, and two cremations, F125 and F138, which cut the base of the linear feature. There were two stake-holes associated with F138, while F125 was surrounded by a circle of ten stake-holes. The second phase of cremations, F92, 22, 103 and 21, were cut into the fill of F89, while the final phase was one cremation, F23, which cut F103. A ring-ditch was also excavated in this area, but there was no stratigraphic relationship between the cremation burials and the ring-ditch itself. The ditch had an external diameter of 5.6m, an internal diameter of 4m, it was 0.24m deep and there was no entrance in the ditch. There were two internal pits, one of which contained a large flat stone similar to a capstone found over a cremation burial in Area 2, but there was no evidence of cremation burials in the pits.

In total, 90 circular pits were excavated in Area 2 (125m north of Area 1) and all but twelve contained fragments of cremated bone, some in a serious state of decay. Evidence of the preservation and deterioration of bone and pottery was well documented in the last cremation excavated, F366. It was the only pit to be covered by a capstone; others may have been capped with a redeposited sod layer. The capstone acted well in preserving the burial, which held the most substantial amount of bone recorded from any of the pits. It also helped to preserve the pot that contained the burial. Unfortunately, when the pot and its contents were sent for preservation and conservation, it was found that only the form of the pot had been intact and in reality very few sherds had survived. Of the 90 pits excavated, 22 contained fragments of pottery and six of these held a substantial quantity of sherds; preliminary identification suggests a Late Bronze Age date (Helen Roche, pers. comm.). All of these cremation pits were located within an area 12m by 6m and no evidence for an enclosing element or superstructure was recorded in the area.

Finally, three cremation pits were recorded in Area 6 (50m south of Area 1). These were similar in size and form to those excavated in Areas 1 and 2. They all contained fragments of cremated bone and a small number of pottery sherds were recorded in two examples.