Eachtra Journal

ISSN 2009-2237

A ring-ditch, three cremation burial cemeteries and a four Fulachta Fiadh at Kilbane, Co. Limerick

February, 2012 · Written by: Eachtra Print This Page This entry is part 5 of 5 in the Issue 13

Archaeological Excavation Report

A ring-ditch, three cremation burial cemeteries and a four Fulachta Fiadh

Kilbane is testimony to a long-standing tradition of cremation burial within unenclosed flat cemeteries. Three cemeteries were excavated under the current license, a fourth was dug by Limerick County Council, 03E1343 (McCutcheon, 2006), and finally Aegis Archaeology Ltd (Hayes, 2006) excavated a small example, also in the townland of Kilbane, 02E1707.

The cemetery in Area 1 was small but elaborate. It included eight cremation pits, one of which had been surrounded by a circle of stake-holes and a ring-ditch. Three phases of burials were discerned. An extensive unenclosed flat cremation cemetery was excavated in Area 2. 89 cremation pits with burials of at least 54 individuals were excavated. Social stratification was evidently part of society in Kilbane, with mature individuals primarily buried separately and all juveniles buried with a mature person. Adolescents, once they had reached puberty, were likely to have been buried in their own pit as mature adults.

The cemetery in Area 6 was a small example, with just three burial pits recorded.

Much bone was missing from the pits. Possibly samples of burials had been ritually deposited in nearby watercourses, perhaps the Groody river or the Shannon, only 5km to the west. Ritual deposits of bone may also be accounted for by the small pockets of cremated bone recorded in Areas 3, 4 and 5.

Two 14 C dates were recorded for the current site. These span the Early to Middle Bronze Age which, considering the complexities involved in the Bronze Age community achieving the quality of cremated bone at Kilbane, is further evidence of the long-standing tradition of cremation burial in this area.

The extensive collection of LBA pottery, with 30–35 flat-bottomed vessels represented, together with the remains of four Fulachta Fiadh in the overall site, all pay credence to the existence of a large, well-established community in the area at that time. However, the location of settlement evidence has yet to be established beyond the fact that all of the LBA pottery originally derived from domestic contexts.

Author: Niamh O’Callaghan

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Archaeological Report - Kilbane, Castletroy, Co. Limerick (Ireland)
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