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A ringfort with souterrain and metalwork at Loughbown 1, Co. Galway (E2442)

This entry is part 34 of 34 in the Issue [1] 02

Archaeological Excavation Report

Ringfort with souterrain and metalwork

This report presents the results of an excavation at a ringfort in the townland of Loughbown, Co. Galway. The excavation was undertaken by Eachtra Archaeological Projects for Galway County Council and the National Roads Authority and forms part of wider archaeological excavation programme undertaken by Eachtra within approximately 15 km of the proposed N6 motorway.
Excavation revealed the remains of a bivallate ringfort. It was situated on the side of a hill with sweeping views across the valley to the north and east. The site was characterised by an outer ditch (1.5 m width by 0.8 m depth and 63 m diameter) and a more substantial inner ditch (3 m wide by 1.1 m deep by 42 m in diameter). There were at least two re-cuts of the inner ditch and an inhumation burial was found at one inner ditch terminal.
The entrance was located to the south-east. Subsoil was removed from within the enclosed area and the spoil from this probably contributed to a bank, the remains of which were located between the inner and the outer ditches.
A souterrain was found within the enclosure. It was constructed from limestone blocks and roofed with large limestone slabs. The excavated portion measured 7.16 m long by 1.56 m wide by 1.25 m deep, with a vent running from its eastern side. Geophysical survey revealed that it continued for 2 m beyond the baulk (see below).
Other internal features included three possible corn drying kilns, where large quantities of oats and some wheat, barley and possible rye were found. Ironworking took place in the east of the site, between the inner and the outer ditches, with oak identified as the main industrial fuel. Three small smithing hearths were found and a radiocarbon date from one indicated use in the high medieval period (date range cal AD 1047 – 1257).
The remains of modern buildings were found at the western end of the site, upslope and overlaying the outer ditch. These buildings are first recorded on the 1838 Ordnance Survey of Ireland map, illustrated as L-shaped with a courtyard and mature trees.
Finds from Loughbown 1 included wooden and bone combs, a quern stone, a stone mould, a silver coin, a number of iron tools and other objects, with copper alloy objects including a ringed pin, a knife, a buckle, a sheet with rivet holes and many fragments of sheeting. Post-medieval contexts produced large amounts of ceramics dating from the 18th to 20th centuries. Approximately 40% of the site survives outside the road corridor following excavations.

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