News just in! Stephen Hoper of the C14 lab in Belfast has just sent us the incredible news that a charcoal sample from the base of the outermost ditch of the ‘cursus’ dates to the Neolithic, most likely between 2632BC and 2472BC. The detailed report can be found at the end of this post.
Sample no.: UBA-38707
Radiocarbon Age BP 4034 +/- 33
% area enclosed cal AD age ranges relative area under probability distribution
Now that the excavation is over, have a look-out for important future postings; a final environmental report, a full analysis of the flint from the site, the finished drawings and preliminary reports. In about six weeks we will have a C14 date that will confirm, once and for all, the date of this monumental structure.
The team has turned its focus to final recording of the pits and ditches exposed during the last few weeks. This is an extremely important phase of the excavation and will form part of the final report that will be produced on the results of the excavation. Once this section of the monument is back-filled this will form the main record of this portion of the site. Matt welcomed colleagues from his college, DCU who interviewed and recorded work at the site. The research excavation at Newgrange Farm provides an insight into the kind of research which members of the DCU academic staff undertake over the summer. Lise Hand, journalist with the London Times (Irish edition) came on site to interview Matt about the excavation. Visitors to the site included Peter Dooner (OPW) and Sarah Cummins with her husband Shane who generously spent most of the day sieving on site. We were also delighted to also see Clare Tuffy and Leonsha Lenihan of the Brú na Bóinne Visitors Centre who took time out from their crazy schedule to call in.
That evening, many on the excavation gathered at Tara for the last of this July’s Tara Lectures. The audience were treated to a novel and highly enjoyable analysis of the iconography of the Crosses at Monasterboice by Peter Harbison. Peter and all assembled thanked Clare Tuffy and her staff for organising and hosting the Tara Lecture Series.
We have reached the bottom of the outer ditch and so the crew is dry sieving the last of the feature fill and sorting all the tools and equipment to return to the OPW. Our environmental archaeologist has processed all the environmental samples and is now doing painstaking microscopic examination for seeds and charcoal. The remaining finds have been catalogued and the drawing of sections and planning of the pits and ditches is in full swing. Jo Leigh, who discovered this great monument, kindly came back from her holidays to help us with the survey work. It was great to see so many colleagues from the National Monuments Service visiting the site as well as our friend Kate Sweetman with three of her French guests. There is a great sense of relief on the site that we achieved our goal for this season and should have all our work done before the site is back-filled at the end of the week.
Today was another great day on site with many volunteers coming out of the woodwork to help us finish up. Matt with the help of Hugh McElveen, Callum McElveen and Helen has bottomed the great pit where there are fire-reddened boulders and burnt bone in the base. Craig and Tom have emptied the inner ditch so all the action is now homing in on the north end of the trench where the outer ditch continues to go down, thanks to the hard work of Joseph, Livy, Donal, Katee and Muirne Lyons (National Monuments Service). Billy and Geraldine have started recording the long sections. Archaeologist Ian Russell (ACS) arrived on site and very generously offered to record the site with the company’s drone, which is greatly appreciated. It was wonderful to welcome to the site our long-standing supporters James and Margaret Nugent with their extended family and Anthony Murphy with his family. Another distinguished visitor was Laureen Buckley (human bone expert) who brought a fabulous cake from a recent significant birthday party. Many thanks to Catherine Bonner who kept us supplied with tea throughout the day and the Redhouse family who kindly plied us all with ice creams. Its a great life ( … if you don’t weaken)!
We have taken this long dry spell for granted on the excavation so it was a shock to the system to experience our first day of rain. Fortunately, the rain helped show up contrasts in soil deposits in the section face wonderfully. It also provided an opportunity to catch up on some site homework. In between the showers, Billy Sines started to draw the sections. In the late morning we had very important visitors from the Royal Irish Academy Archaeology Committee, who have provided a research grant for this excavation, Ian Doyle (Heritage Council of Ireland) and Dr Edel Bhreathnach (The Discovery Programme) with Raghnall O’Floinn, recently retired from the National Museum of Ireland. In the afternoon we were able to do some digging and Matthew and Sadhbh uncovered a large deposit of red burnt soil and stones with animal bones, which have been sampled from the great pit. A large group of very enthusiastic children from Teach na nDaoine family resource centre, Monaghan, offered to help out on the excavation and their examination of our spoil heap produced numerous pieces of quartz, worked chert and a flint flake. So thank you guys!
Today was the last day on the site for two of our intrepid diggers. We thank Ciarán McDonnell and Comhall Ferriter for their magnificent contribution.
More importantly, Lorna Siggins refers to the excavation in an article in the Weekend Section of the paper.