2004:0679 - COROFIN: Castlegrounds, Galway

NMI Burial Excavation Records

County: Galway Site name: COROFIN: Castlegrounds

Sites and Monuments Record No.: GA057-089–91 and GA057-161 Licence number: 04E0100 ext.

Author: Tom Rogers, Moore Ltd.

Site type: Burial ground

Period/Dating: Early Medieval (AD 400-AD 1099)

ITM: E 542559m, N 743232m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 53.436053, -8.864462

During monitoring ahead of the construction of sixteen dwellings at Castlegrounds, Corofin, Co. Galway, Declan Moore recorded human remains comprising at least eight skeletons. The site is located within and adjacent to four zones of archaeological potential around an old road, a tower-house, a bridge and a circular enclosure. The bridge is also listed as a protected structure (RPS-82). Following consultation with the licensing authorities, it was decided that, due to the advanced stage of the development, the remains should be fully excavated. This was carried out in July and August.

Considerable amounts of human bone were recovered from the topsoil. Excavation revealed a minimum of 57 skeletons in varying states of preservation. Those near the surface had been truncated, probably by agricultural activity, and most survived only partially. They were laid supine, almost all orientated east-west, with no grave goods, shrouding or coffins. Grave-cuts, where discernible, were tight to the skeletons. Grave fills were for the most part similar to the topsoil, with patches of redeposited natural and some charcoal.

A curving ditch defined the edge of the burials to the east. This was 2m wide at the surface and over 1m deep, containing two fills. It was decided that the ditch would be preserved in situ and it was only sectioned in three places. Immediately west of the excavated area, the continuation of the ditch can be seen as a bank crossing SMR 51:161, the old road. Two post-holes were also recorded just inside the ditch.

It is thought that the association of the graveyard and a substantial enclosing feature is suggestive of an Early Christian burial ground.

Corofin was recorded as a manorial village in the 13th century and was granted the rights for a fair and market. It is thought that the original settlement of 'Corphyn' may have occupied this area west of the river at an important crossing point where a tower-house was later built (Knox 1901). The modern village is east of the river and it may be that the graveyard was abandoned with the shifting of the village.

Osteological analysis of the skeletons is currently in progress and it is hoped that this and radiocarbon dating will shed further light on the date and origin of this graveyard.

Knox, H.T. 1901 Occupation of the county of Galway by the Anglo-Normans after 1237. Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland 31, 365–70.

Corporate House, Ballybrit Industrial Estate, Galway