2012:311 - Glanfahan/Gleann Fán, Kerry

County: Kerry Site name: Glanfahan/Gleann Fán

Sites and Monuments Record No.: KE052-183 Licence number: E4374 ext.

Author: Laurence Dunne

Site type: Early medieval cashel

ITM: E 434124m, N 597180m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 52.101626, -10.421368

In 2011 a minor keyhole excavation cutting at was opened at Caherconnor – Cathair na gConchúrach - in the townland of Glanfahan on the south-west limits of the Dingle Peninsula. The small-scale excavation was undertaken in advance of restoration works by the Office of Public Works to a clochaun, Clochaun 3, that had been partially taken down as it was collapsing along its north-east limits. Caherconnor is a National Monument (No. 156) in State care.

Following onsite discussions between the National Monuments Service, the OPW and the writer in 2012 it was determined that the fabric of the north and north-east area of Clochaun 3 should be reduced further and the depth and width of the excavation cutting undertaken in 2011 (Excavations 2011, No. 317) should be increased.

The widening of the trench essentially comprised the removal by hand of a large number of loose and other deeply set ad hoc stones primarily along the northern extent of the trench. These stones varied from heavy, large, flag types to small stony loose debris material. Prior to removal, strategic stones were numbered for ease of recording. All revealed archaeology was planned and further plotted with a GPS Magellan ProMark3 Rover and Base Station to <10mm accuracy. The trench was deepened primarily towards the western limits of the cutting where the ground was higher. The eastern limits were already at a lower, adequate level from the 2011 season.

Excavation of the western limits of the cutting revealed the lower basal courses of an earlier rectangular structure. Underneath, and abutting the rectangular structure and Clochaun 3, was a massive earth fast boulder that extended across the entirety of the trench. Consequently, no further work was possible or necessary in this western area.

Excavation work abutting the boulder at the mid area of the trench revealed a coherent indurate pinkish coloured archaeological layer running alongside and underneath Clochaun 3. A small charcoal-enriched deposit abutted the layer at the east. This deposit was sampled but was not excavated.

Further, reduction by 0.3m was undertaken of the physical fabric of Clochaun 3. This reduction confirmed the poor construction fabric of the structure that had been recorded in 2011 and which most likely played a part or possibly accelerated its demise.

A small assemblage of sixteen artefacts were recovered including: an incomplete 'cigar'-shaped hone-stone and a potential hammer stone while the other fourteen comprised small lithic pieces of struck and unmodified quartz and flint. The hone, which is sub-rectangular in cross-section, is symmetrically fashioned and manufactured from a fine-grained micaceous purple-red sandstone. It is severely pitted on one face and on one side while impact marks are also visible on its fashioned end.

Other finds include a small assemblage of animal bone of sheep/goat. Flensing marks are visible on one of the bones while four other fragments are heavily calcined.

Fish bones recovered comprised a single tooth from a wrasse. Interestingly, this particular delta-shaped molar occurs at the back of the wrasse's mouth on the pharyngeal bone and its cluster of rounded hard enamel is used for grinding and crushing the bivalves that it feeds on. Traditionally, this bone was worked by fishermen as amulets to protect them at sea.

A tiny assemblage of bivalve molluscs was also recorded as well as a possible hazelnut shell.

The cashel was also fully surveyed to DGPS accuracy and planned.

In 2011 a minor keyhole excavation cutting at was opened at Caherconnor – Cathair na gConchúrach - in the townland of Glanfahan on the south-west limits of the Dingle Peninsula. The small-scale excavation was undertaken in advance of restoration works by the Office of Public Works to a clochaun, Clochaun 3, that had been partially taken down as it was collapsing along its north-east limits. Caherconnor is a National Monument (No. 156) in State care.

Following onsite discussions between the National Monuments Service, the OPW and the writer in 2012 it was determined that the fabric of the north and north-east area of Clochaun 3 should be reduced further and the depth and width of the excavation cutting undertaken in 2011 (Excavations 2011, No. 317) should be increased.

The widening of the trench essentially comprised the removal by hand of a large number of loose and other deeply set ad hoc stones primarily along the northern extent of the trench. These stones varied from heavy, large, flag types to small stony loose debris material. Prior to removal, strategic stones were numbered for ease of recording. All revealed archaeology was planned and further plotted with a GPS Magellan ProMark3 Rover and Base Station to <10mm accuracy. The trench was deepened primarily towards the western limits of the cutting where the ground was higher. The eastern limits were already at a lower, adequate level from the 2011 season.

Excavation of the western limits of the cutting revealed the lower basal courses of an earlier rectangular structure. Underneath, and abutting the rectangular structure and Clochaun 3, was a massive earth fast boulder that extended across the entirety of the trench. Consequently, no further work was possible or necessary in this western area.

Excavation work abutting the boulder at the mid area of the trench revealed a coherent indurate pinkish coloured archaeological layer running alongside and underneath Clochaun 3. A small charcoal-enriched deposit abutted the layer at the east. This deposit was sampled but was not excavated.

Further, reduction by 0.3m was undertaken of the physical fabric of Clochaun 3. This reduction confirmed the poor construction fabric of the structure that had been recorded in 2011 and which most likely played a part or possibly accelerated its demise.

A small assemblage of sixteen artefacts were recovered including: an incomplete 'cigar'-shaped hone-stone and a potential hammer stone while the other fourteen comprised small lithic pieces of struck and unmodified quartz and flint. The hone, which is sub-rectangular in cross-section, is symmetrically fashioned and manufactured from a fine-grained micaceous purple-red sandstone. It is severely pitted on one face and on one side while impact marks are also visible on its fashioned end.

Other finds include a small assemblage of animal bone of sheep/goat. Flensing marks are visible on one of the bones while four other fragments are heavily calcined.

Fish bones recovered comprised a single tooth from a wrasse. Interestingly, this particular delta-shaped molar occurs at the back of the wrasse's mouth on the pharyngeal bone and its cluster of rounded hard enamel is used for grinding and crushing the bivalves that it feeds on. Traditionally, this bone was worked by fishermen as amulets to protect them at sea.

A tiny assemblage of bivalve molluscs was also recorded as well as a possible hazelnut shell.

The cashel was also fully surveyed to DGPS accuracy and planned.

Laurence Dunne Archaeology, 3, Lios Na Lohart, Ballyvelly, Tralee, Co. Kerry