unusual burial practice was also apparent, withone male inserted in a former drying kiln, somedistance from the other burials. Unlike the otherburials, he was covered with stones, in a north-south position, with legs flexed.
Land of the living
On either side of the cemetery were densely set-tled areas. To the north, an area paved with smallstones was discovered to be littered with animalbone, and artefacts such as bone and iron pins,needles, iron tools, and a horse bit. Post-holes sug-gest a house, and two
were discoveredin this area. The first had a narrow passagewayleading to a rounded chamber; initially timber-built, the entrance was later replaced with stone.The second was stone-built with a corbelled roof and rectangular chamber. This northern areaand the cemetery were later enclosed by a large,rectangular enclosure, indicating that the peoplefelt the need to distinguish this area of the sitefrom the farming activity outside. To the southof the cemetery was a dense pattern of gullies,hearths and a probable house site.The land outside the settlement and cemeteryenclosures was dominated by features relating towork and production, such as field and livestockenclosures, kilns, and mills. Ditches, runningdown-slope, radiated outward from the coreenclosures, subdividing this area and formingdrains and boundaries. Five figure-of-eightas an iron knife, iron pin, copper-alloy ring, anda blue-glass bead found near a child’s neck. Thegraves were radiocarbon dated to between theearly 5th to the late 10th centuries.The burials comprised 68 adults, three adoles-cents, 20 juveniles and two older infants. Duringthis period, children frequently died before fouryears of age; at Raystown, the percentage of juve-niles and infants was very low, and there areno neonatal (birth to four weeks) burials, sug-gesting that they must have been buried else-where – perhaps in a
(a separate, designatedarea of non-consecrated ground for unbaptised,premature, and illegitimate offspring). Diseasewas a factor of everyday life, and many of theadult burials showed evidence of infections,such as tuberculosis. A number of the burials alsodemonstrate the violent nature of Early MedievalIrish life, with two males in particular showingcuts to the bone from a blade. Additional,
Excavation of two
(subterraneanstructures) in thenorthern area of theRaystown site.
Aerial photograph of Raystown, withtopographical contours at 1m intervals (white lines) andgeophysical survey data (blue lines).
Plan of Raystown, showing geophysical survey dataand excavated remains.
i m a g e s :
C R D S L t d a n d G S B P r o s p e c t i o n L t d
p h o t o :
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