2003:1509 - Ballykean Bog, Ballintemple/Ballyduff/Kilbeg/Tooreen, Offaly

NMI Burial Excavation Records

County: Offaly Site name: Ballykean Bog, Ballintemple/Ballyduff/Kilbeg/Tooreen

Sites and Monuments Record No.: N/A Licence number: 03E1127

Author: Michael Stanley, Irish Archaeological Wetland Unit, Department of Archaeology, University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4.

Site type: Peatland survey

ITM: E 619212m, N 720628m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 53.235687, -7.712223

Ballykean Bog was surveyed on behalf of the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government as part of the Peatland Survey 2003. The bog is located c. 5km south-east of Daingean and 4km east of the village of Geashill. It is in milled peat production, operated by Bord na Móna, and covers 415ha. Forty-three previously unrecorded individual sites and finds were recorded in Ballykean bog. In addition, the findspots of previously recovered artefacts (four Iron Age Y-shaped pendants (2000, 16-19)) and an undocumented bog butter were established, bringing the site total to 45. The sites surveyed consist of a pallisaded habitation site, twelve toghers, two post rows and 24 deposits of worked and unworked archaeological wood. Three deposits of archaeological wood were destroyed by machinery during the course of the survey and c. 90% of the remaining sites are 0.2m or less below the current bog surface. The extant sites were identified in two distinct distributions of varying density in the north-eastern and south-eastern portions of the bog. In addition, two isolated sites are situated in the western portion of the bog, where the Y-shaped pendants had been discovered. Two toghers in the south-eastern site distribution have been dated by dendrochronology to 1454±9 BC and 1425±9 BC, respectively. It is highly likely that the remaining sites in this area are also prehistoric, if not broadly contemporary. This may also be the case for the two isolated sites to the west, given the discovery of the Y-shaped pendants in this part of the bog. The habitation site is located within the north-eastern site distribution and has been radiocarbon dated to cal. AD 538-659, indicating that the other sites in this distribution are likely to be late prehistoric or early medieval in date.

A number of artefacts were recovered from Ballykean during the survey, including a wooden anthropomorphic 'figure', 2.31m long, carved from an alder roundwood. This item was an isolated find, while all of the remaining artefacts were associated with the habitation site. These consisted of 69 fragments of burnt animal bone (seven of which have been identified as pig), two whetstones, a limestone disc, a chert core, three flint fragments and two small fragments of leather. The majority of these finds were ex situ.