2003:1207 - Granardkill, Longford

NMI Burial Excavation Records

County: Longford Site name: Granardkill

Sites and Monuments Record No.: SMR 10:78 Licence number: 02E0795

Author: Kieran O'Connor

Site type: Bronze Age/early medieval/post-medieval

ITM: E 631429m, N 780894m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 53.776677, -7.523177

The earthworks at the deserted village of Granardkill, Co. Longford, extend over several acres. Up to 25 house and hut sites, a number of rectangular, wedge-shaped and D-shaped enclosures, some ridge-and-furrow and various grassed-over streets can still be seen. It was widely believed that these earthworks represent the remains of the Anglo-Norman borough of Granard, founded by Richard de Tuite at some stage in the first years of the 13th century on the site of what had been a locally important monastic site of early medieval date.

In 2002 and 2003 Longford Community Resources provided the finances to excavate the site. The primary aim of this research excavation was to date the remains of the deserted village at Granardkill, as it did not look like an Anglo-Norman settlement. The excavation also had several subsidiary aims. These included figuring out how space was used within the settlement. For example, were the large enclosures seen within the settlement the courtyards or tofts of houses or were they just small fields or stock enclosures? How was water provided to the inhabitants of the village, as there is no stream nearby? How were the houses in the settlement constructed?

These questions were answered in 2002 and 2003. The village earthworks appear to be late 16th and 17th century in date. The various enclosures around the site are the remains of stock enclosures and vegetable gardens/small arable fields (Areas C and D). The partly excavated house (in Area A) was basically of sod construction and its roof may have been supported by crucks. The excavation and earlier survey also provided evidence for quite a complex water-supply system across the site. The negative evidence was also important. There were no finds of Anglo-Norman date from the site. This suggests that the historically attested Anglo-Norman borough of Granard was somewhere else – possibly beside the fine motte 1km to the east of the site.

The excavation also produced unexpected results. A possible Bronze Age pit burial was found in Area D. Extensive evidence of early medieval occupation was also uncovered at the site. A rubbish pit of early medieval date was found on the southern side of Area D. It has produced masses of animal bone and a number of artefacts, including a bone pin, a blue-glass bracelet fragment and an intact bronze ringed pin. Furthermore, the remains of a large corn-drying kiln were also uncovered in Area B in 2003 but were only partly excavated due to time constraints. It seems that this latter feature is early medieval in date, simply because no finds of post-medieval date were found within it, but this point needs to be clarified.

Department of Archaeology, National University of Ireland, Galway.