Eachtra Journal

ISSN 2009-2237

Early medieval graveyard and enclosure at Sawpit Lane, Tuam, Co. Galway

May, 2013 · Written by: Finn Delaney Print This Page This entry is part 8 of 8 in the Issue 16

Archaeological Excavation Report

Early medieval graveyard and enclosure

Following the discovery of human remains during archaeological monitoring of engineering trial pits in Sawpit Lane a 1 m wide trench was excavated along Sawpit Lane, Church Lane and The Mall in advance of pipelaying associated with the Tuam Town Water Supply in July 2010. The remains of 15 individuals were recorded and excavated along with a series of ditches and pits. A stone culvert and the remains of a boundary wall were also identified. Two of the skeletons and a bone fragment from the base of one of the ditches returned calibrated radiocarbon dates centring on the seventh century. In addition a smithing hearth cake typical of early iron smithing was recovered from the upper fill of the ditch along with a bone trial motif piece which has sixth/seventh century parallels. The other pits and ditches had fills containing relatively mixed finds and animal bone fragments. The excavated features are located outside the present Temple Jarlath enclosure in the middle of Tuam and close to the site of the early medieval market area and the site of the post-medieval shambles. The pits may have acted as refuse pits for waste and the ditches may have demarcated areas or being used as open drains. The early burial evidence and the early possible enclosing ditch coupled with reports of an early unclassified cross slab suggest that the graveyard and enclosure at Temple Jarlath may be associated with St Jarlath’s original early Christian foundation.

Author: Finn Delaney

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