Eachtra Journal

ISSN 2009-2237

Bronze Age and Iron Age features at Stagpark, Co. Cork

May, 2011 · Written by: Eachtra Print This Page This entry is part 33 of 37 in the Issue 10

Archaeological Excavation Report

Bronze Age and Iron Age features

A group of over a hundred pits, postholes and stakeholes were located on the hilltop at Stagpark. The features dated from the Early Bronze Age to the Middle Iron Age which would suggest that the hilltop was occupied over a long period of time. Four pits containing burnt fills were recorded in Area A and Area C. The pits were similar in terms of morphology, size and date. The two sets of pits were located within 1m of each other and c. 40m apart. Almost identical Early Bronze Age dates were returned for two of the pits. The pits may have functioned as cremation pits, although minute traces of burnt bone was recorded in only one of the fills. They may also have been utilised for a domestic purpose. One of the two large pits (C.1001) in Area B was dated to the Early Bronze Age. It is difficult to interpret the function of these pits as they are exceptionally large. Stakeholes recorded on the upper sides of pit C.1001, these may have formed a frame or covering for the pit.
The recovery of two sherds of Late Bronze Age coarse ware from a pit, in the vicinity of the hearth-pit C.22, in the northwest section of Area A, would indicate that this area was utilised during the Late Bronze Age. A cluster of three pits and eight stakeholes were located to the southeast of the hearth.
Four of the stakeholes in particular could have formed a shelter around the hearth open to the west.
Although no dating evidence was obtained from the features in the vicinity of the large pits C.66 and C.90 it is possible that they are associated with the Late Bronze Age activity surrounding the hearth C.22.
A Middle Iron Age date was returned from the later re-cut of the large pit C.110. An L-shaped alignment, consisting of three pits, 13 stakeholes and three postholes, extended to the north and east of the pit. The alignment measured c. 6m north-south by 13m east-west. It could be associated with the Middle Iron Age pit C.110, the Early Bronze Age cremation pits or the Late Bronze Age features.
A number of fulachta fiadh were recorded downslope to the north and south of the site. Three burnt mounds were recorded (CO019-019, -020 and -021) within 500m of the site, while four other burnt mounds were excavated as part of this road project; Stagpark 1 (04E1119) was 600m to the south, Stagpark 2 (04E1121) was 200m away to the north and Mitchelstown 2 (04E1071) was 1.5km to the north. The fulachta fiadh are located on heavier clay subsoil. Radiocarbon dates obtained from some of the burnt mounds would suggest that these sites were utilized during the Early Bronze Age.
The site, possibly located on the margins of prehistoric settlement, forms an interesting contrast to a Middle Bronze Age settlement site excavated at Mitchelstown 1 (04E1072). The remains of at least three circular houses were excavated at Mitchelstown 1. The site was located on a limestone ridge on the northern bank of the Gradoge River. The opposing site on the southern bank of the Gradoge River was subsequently occupied by the Anglo Normans in the thirteenth century. The material evidence recorded on site was scant. No associated pits and stakeholes were associated with the structures. It is possible that these features were located outside the route corridor.

Author: Bruce Sutton

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