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Middle Bronze Age houses at Mitchelstown, Co. Cork

This entry is part 31 of 37 in the Issue [1] 10

Archaeological Excavation Report

Middle Bronze Age houses

The site at Mitchelstown 1 was discovered during archaeological investigations along the route of the Mitchelstown Relief Road. The site comprised three houses constructed in at least two phases, one of the houses having been cut by the other two. The houses were approximately 10m in diameter and were roughly D-shaped in plan, with entrances centrally located on the straight side, facing east. One of the houses showed clear evidence of having had an internal division in the form of a slot trench running between two structural postholes. The slot trench could have held a wattle wall separating the entrance area (approximately one-third of the floor area) from the remainder of the house.
Little evidence was found of the material culture or economy of the inhabitants of the Mitchelstown houses. No pottery was recovered from the site and the few lithics were undiagnostic.
The number of cereal grains recovered from the soil samples was too small to allow any interpretation of the economy or diet of the population. A striking aspect of the environmental material however was the large number of seeds of the Dock family. These are usually considered to be weed seeds brought into houses inadvertently along with cereals. However, that is unlikely here, given the paucity of cereal grains on the site, and it may be that Dock seeds were deliberately gathered as a food source. Parallels for this have been found in Britain and Denmark where Dock seeds have been found in the gut contents of bog bodies.
The Mitchelstown houses have numerous parallels among the growing numbers of Middle Bronze Age houses now being discovered in recent Irish excavations and add to the expanding settlement pattern of the period.

Author: Eamonn Cotter

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