Archaeologists uncover 5,700-year-old Neolithic house in north Cork

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The foundations of a 5,700-year-old Neolithic house, evidence of Bronze Age burials and Iron Age smelting have been discovered by archaeologists as a result of excavations at the sites of two road realignment projects in Co. Cork.

Archaeologists uncover 5,700-year-old Neolithic house in north Cork
Eight separate excavations were carried out after the county council undertook two road realignment
 projects on the N73 (main road between Mallow and Mitchelstown) close to the villages
 of Shanballymore and Kildorrery [Credit: Transport Infrastructure Ireland]

They were unearthed in a total of eight separate excavations carried out after the county council undertook two road realignment projects on the N73 (the main road between Mallow and Mitchelstown) close to the villages of Shanballymore and Kildorrery.

On one of the sites, archaeologists discovered the foundations of a Neolithic house dating back to approximately 3,700 BC, which they believe may have belonged to some of the first farming families to inhabit the area.




It’s believed it once formed part of a small rural settlement founded by these pioneering early farmers.

Pottery, stone tools and grain from the same period were also discovered at the site.

Archaeologists uncover 5,700-year-old Neolithic house in north Cork
Evidence of iron smelting was also found at the townland of Annakiska South
[Credit: Transport Infrastructure Ireland]

It’s believed that farming knowledge would only have arrived in Ireland around 200 years before this community was established in the North Cork area.

Neolithic settlers were also the first people in Ireland to produce pottery and used distinctive stone tools, examples of which were found at the site.




In the townland of Glencor South archaeologists discovered stone tools and pottery deliberately buried in holes during the Middle Neolithic era. They concluded this was some kind of ritual, which may have been associated with human burials, or offering gifts to the ‘Gods of the Underworld’.

A number of charcoal pits were also discovered of varying ages at some of the sites in the townland of Waterdyke. Charcoal was needed to increase heat in the smelting process for the production of Iron. These sites were dated from 266AD through to 1214AD.

Archaeologists uncover 5,700-year-old Neolithic house in north Cork
Neolithic settlers were also the first people in Ireland to produce pottery and
used distinctive stone tools [Credit: Transport Infrastructure Ireland]

Evidence of iron smelting was also found at the townland of Annakiska South.

Smithy sites were found in both townlands dating back from the time when the road was first constructed in the late 17th century.




This suggested that they were set up to look after passing trade along the route, such as shoeing of horses, as well as looking after the needs of the indigenous community by providing metal tools to the mainly farming population.

Other discoveries included what archaeologists believe could be a 17th-century enclosure as well as old clay pipes and glass.

Archaeologists uncover 5,700-year-old Neolithic house in north Cork
Clay pipes believed to be from the 17th century were among the fragments unearthed
 by archaeologists in Cork [Credit: Transport Infrastructure Ireland]

The results of the archaeologists’ work have been published in an online story map by Cork County Council, in conjunction with TII (Transport Infrastructure Ireland).

The story map was created by Ken Hanley, TII project archaeologist, and Ed Lyne, Cork County Council resident archaeologist. Edel Ruttle and Graham Hull were the site excavation directors.

The online mapping site also includes details of previously disclosed archaeology discovered along the route of the new Macroom – Ballyvourney road, which is now under construction.

Author: Sean O’Riordan | Source: Irish Examiner [August 26, 2020]

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