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A ringfort with killeen burials at Mackney, Co. Galway (E2444)

This entry is part 33 of 34 in the Issue [1] 02

Archaeological Excavation Report

Ringfort with Killeen Burials

This report presents the results of an eight-month excavation of a large, denuded and partly destroyed ringfort in the townland of Mackney, Ballinasloe, Co. Galway. The excavation was undertaken by Eachtra Archaeological Projects for Galway County Council and the National Roads Authority and forms part of a wider archaeological excavation programme undertaken by Eachtra within approximately 15 km of the proposed N6 motorway.
The excavation at Mackney ringfort uncovered a long sequence of settlement and occupation activity and later reuse as a place of burial and cultivation. Eight samples were sent for radiocarbon dating and returned dates between the 8th and 17th century.
The large ditch was nearly exactly circular in plan, enclosing an area with an internal diameter of 55.64 m, including the footprint of the bank. The ditch was approximately 5 – 6 m wide and ranged in depth from 1.75 m – 3.1 m. One half of a well-preserved Henry III silver penny and a socketed arrowhead were recovered from the upper fills of the ditch. The entrance to the ringfort was located in the ENE sector of the enclosing ditch. The entrance was defined by a 6.6 m wide causeway running between two rounded, steep-sided ditch termini. A series of structural elements were revealed on the inside edge of this causeway.
A metalworking area was identified to the north of the entrance, inside the remains of a portion of inner bank revetment wall. A number of bowl furnaces were found within this area.
A range of internal features survived within the ringfort. These cut the underlying sandy gravel subsoil and included the remains of two possible circular houses, a lean-to structure and a possible rectangular structure. A beautifully constructed, partly robbed and in-filled souterrain was also discovered. It consisted of two chambers, a connecting drop creep and a set of entrance steps. A series of later medieval fire pits/hearths and associated structures were also revealed.
The ringfort was later re-used as a burial place: 143 individual skeletons, primarily of infants under the age of six years, were excavated within the ringfort. The burials were concentrated in the south-western arc of the ringfort ditch.

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