An early medieval settlement/cemetery at Carrowkeel, Co.

Brendon Wilkins and Susan Lalonde
A multi-period settlement/cemetery was excavated at Carrowkeel, Co. Galway. The main phase of the site was a substantial early medieval enclosure ditch with a cemetery area contained in its eastern half.The enclosure and associated features were divided into three phases based on their uses and location. The human remains assemblage is made up of 132 individuals, although the cemetery could originally have been much larger, extending beyond the limit of excavation. It was separated into four phases, from the seventh to the fifteenth century AD, and contained a disproportionate percentage of non-adults, with predominantly infant and foetal remains in the later phases. Nonmetric traits may indicate a degree of relatedness in the assemblage, consistent with the possibility that Carrowkeel was founded by an extended family splitting from a larger kin group. The Carrowkeel cemetery appears to represent the spatial segregation of non-adults within a normal cemetery population and is not thought to be a cillín, which are common in the later and post-medieval period, especially in the west of Ireland. The segregation at Carrowkeel may be a precursor to this Irish tradition, however.

INTRODUCTION This paper describes the archaeological excavation of a multi-period enclosure and cemetery site at Carrowkeel, Co. Galway (NGR 159326/223949; Ministerial Direction No. A024/E2046) (Fig. 1). The site was on the brow of an east–west ridge surrounded by a landscape of lower, gently undulating hills, approximately 7km from Loughrea, at a height of 45m OD. It was recorded in the Sites and Monuments Record (GA097-066) as an enclosure and featured clearly on the first edition OS map (sheet 72), but had since been subject to extensive ploughing and was no longer visible as an upstanding earthwork. The site was less than 1km from an extensive early medieval settlement complex (GA097-068), also in the townland of Carrowkeel, and 2km from medieval churchyards at Kiltullagh to the north-west (GA097-114) and Tooloobaun to the south (GA097-148). The main enclosure at Carrowkeel comprised a large ditch and remnants of a substantial internal bank, probably constructed in the seventh or eighth century (Pl. 2). Originally the enclosure probably encircled the brow of the hill, but approximately one third of it and an unknown portion of the cemetery remained beyond the limit of the excavation. A small number of postholes were identified in the north-west of the enclosure, but these could not be unequivocally assigned to the main phase of enclosure and probably pre-dated its construction. In the absence of clear structural evidence, general indicators of settlement included a large animal bone assemblage, pits, two cooking pits, and iron slag recovered from ditch features. Near the centre of the enclosure, but in its
The Journal of Irish Archaeology Volume XVII, 2008

eastern half, was a cemetery that had probably been used from the seventh to the fifteenth century. Four cemetery phases have been identified on the basis of grave-cut truncation and radiocarbon dating, although a general continuity was observed. One hundred and thirty-two skeletons were excavated, but as the incidence of burials increased towards the edge of the excavation it is safe to assume that the cemetery originally extended beyond the limit of excavation, possibly extending over the brow of the hill.

METHODOLOGY The site was excavated in advance of construction of the N6 Galway to Ballinasloe road scheme between September 2005 and January 2006, on behalf of the National Roads Authority and Galway County Council. A geophysical survey prior to test-trenching identified a series of anomalies interpreted as potential ditches, and a large open area of topsoil was removed to assess their extent and character. The topsoil was removed mechanically under supervision using a toothless ditching bucket. A total area of 3,500m2 was investigated, with topsoil deposits removed to the depth of the glacial till to ascertain the extent of the enclosure, except in the cemetery area, where all deposits below vegetation layer were removed by hand. Three main phases were recognised: an early sequence of ditches and discrete cut features possibly of prehistoric date (phase 1), the main enclosure and associated cemetery (phase 2), and a phase of linear cultivation features outside the enclosure (phase 3).


58 Brendon Wilkins and Susan Lalonde

Fig. 1 —Location of excavation area and overall site plan, with detail of cemetery area.

An early medieval settlement/cemetery at Carrowkeel, Co. Galway 59

NATURAL DEPOSITS The site was on a limestone ridge, covered with a limestone-derived till consisting of calcareous silts, stony sand and clays with a highly mixed and variable character. A number of areas of dense silty clay and clay were uncovered during topsoil-stripping. These were examined and determined to be naturally occurring, constituting variations in the glacial till. The orange colouration of the silty clays and clays suggests that these deposits contain more iron or have iron in a more highly oxidised state than the majority of the surrounding till. The topsoil in the cemetery area was extremely shallow. Some loss of topsoil in this area can be accounted for by soil creep and plough wash, but the depth also reflects the fact that these graves were originally topsoil burials placed just below the contemporary ground surface. This also accounts for why many burials have no identifiable grave-cut, and why in other cases only a slight cut into the subsoil was observed. The absence of grave-cuts is explicable in terms of ongoing processes of reworking in the topsoil, particularly through earthworm activity.

PHASE 1: FEATURES PRE-DATING THE MAIN ENCLOSURE AND CEMETERY Though much less substantial than the main enclosure ditch, an earlier phase was represented by a sequence of ditches. A number of discrete pits, one of which produced three pieces of undiagnostic but possibly late Neolithic struck chert (Ballin 2007), were also identified in the northern part of the enclosure and could be associated with this phase. These artefacts could also have been residual finds indicative of a general ‘background noise’ of prehistoric activity, and although the sequence of phase 1 ditches were truncated by the main enclosure, this could have occurred soon after silting, in which case both phases may be early medieval. Phase 1 ditches The early ditches 1015, 1020 and 1022 were located to the north of the main enclosure ditch. Ditches 1015 and 1020 may represent an enclosure ditch forming an entrance onto the brow of the hill, and ditch 1022 was possibly associated with this phase of enclosure, forming a secondary barrier to the entrance ditches. The full

Pl. 1—Working shot of ditch 1023, looking north.

60 Brendon Wilkins and Susan Lalonde

extent of ditch 1015 was uncertain within the interior of the main phase 2 enclosure (1023) but was clearly truncated by it. It may originally have extended further south, but if so this section may have been shallower owing to outcropping of bedrock at the top of the hill and may subsequently have been adversely affected by the relatively deep plough truncation in this area. It was 1.95m wide, 0.67m deep and 11m long. Two primary deposits of red-brown silt were noted at the base (1016 and 1018). The main fill was a mid- to dark brown silt (1017) with inclusions of approximately 35% small stones. A small gully (1535), 1.2m long, 0.6m wide and 0.32m deep, was associated with this ditch. It was filled by orange-brown silty clay (1536) of moderate compaction. In conjunction with 1015 just described, ditch 1020 formed a possible entrance onto the brow of the hill. It was V-shaped in plan, 1.8m wide and 0.6m deep, and extended east–west for 12m before turning sharply to run north–south for 10m. It was filled by a mid-brown silty sand (1021) containing a large quantity of stones, animal bones and charcoal. A weathered piece of medieval pottery (E2046:1302:001) of a local, oxidised fine orange fabric was recovered from this feature, but its abraded nature and position close to the surface of the feature suggested that it was residual. Ditch feature 1020 appeared to be truncated by the phase 2 main enclosure ditch (1023), although at this point it was very shallow and the area was disturbed by a large modern pit (1375). This modern pit truncated the inside edge of the main enclosure but extended no further. Linear feature 1022 was L-shaped in plan and was located to the north-east of 1020 and 1015, running west–east for 15m before turning south and continuing in that direction for 7m. It had sloping sides and a concave base that was almost V-shaped in section at the western end but flattened out considerably towards the eastern end. Deposit 1316 was light brown silty clay within 1022 and contained small stones, charcoal and animal bone inclusions. It contained an iron strap (E2046:1315:001), and during environmental processing of the samples a small blue glass bead was retrieved. Feature 1372 was a small linear feature running east–west on the northern side of the main enclosure ditch (1023), although its precise relationship with earlier ditches could not be determined owing to similarities of deposits. It had sloping sides and a flat base and was 0.6m wide and 0.15m deep. It was filled by deposit 1373, which comprised a mid-grey-brown sandy silt of firm compaction with animal bone and stone inclusions. Phase 1 discrete features A linear arrangement of six cut features was identified in the north-west quadrant of the main (phase 2) enclosure on the brow of the hill, described below in sequence.

Owing to their shallow nature these features could not be characterised as either post-holes or pits, although their linear arrangement suggests the former. Moving from north to south, the first subcircular cut feature (1051) was 0.75m long, 0.63m wide and 0.23m deep. It was filled by mid-brown sandy silt (1052), with a moderate quantity of stone inclusions up to 0.2m in size. A subcircular cut feature (1049) was excavated south of this. It was 0.5m in diameter and 0.06m deep, with shallow sides and a flat base. It was filled by a deposit of black-grey silty clay (1050) with occasional charcoal flecks and small fragments of chert inclusions. Subcircular cut 1047 had steep sides and a concave base. It was 0.6m in diameter and 0.11m deep, and was filled by black-grey silty clay (1048) with inclusions of small stones, frequent charcoal flecks and burnt bone. An irregular subcircular cut (1057) with irregular shallow sides and a concave base was excavated adjacent to this feature. It was 0.5m in diameter and 0.11m deep and filled by black-grey silty clay (1058). Cut feature 1045 was subrectangular with shallow sides and a flat base. It was uneven and only 0.05m in depth and 0.4m in diameter. It was interpreted as a post-hole in alignment with other features even though it was rectangular, uneven and very shallow. It was filled by 1046, a dark grey silty clay of moderate compaction with stones and occasional charcoal flecks. A suboval cut (1053) in alignment with these features was likely to have been a natural feature. Three pieces of black chert were recovered from a subcircular cut feature (1051). These artefacts were not strictly diagnostic but were the product of a wellcontrolled flake industry supporting a date in the late Neolithic (Ballin 2007). They included a secondary hard-hammer flake with an untrimmed platform edge (30mm x 28mm x 8mm), a proximal section of tertiary hard-hammer flake (23mm x 23mm x 4mm) and a tertiary irregular or multi-directional core (24mm x 19mm x 19mm). Although all these features were assigned to phase 1, they could equally be contemporary with the main enclosure, with chert incorporated into earlier fills as residual material. A rim fragment characteristic of Carrowkeel ware (E2046:1001:001) was also recovered from the topsoil. It consisted of a reduced buff-grey fabric, with frequent black and red small stone and occasional mica inclusions, and may also be indicative of generalised low-level Neolithic activity.

PHASE 2: THE MAIN ENCLOSURE AND ASSOCIATED FEATURES (EXCLUDING THE CEMETERY) The main enclosure ditch (1023) was truncated by the line of the proposed road and continued around the

An early medieval settlement/cemetery at Carrowkeel, Co. Galway 61

Pl. 2—Ditch 1023 and upcast bank. looking north-west.

Fig. 2—Sections of main enclosure ditch (1023).

62 Brendon Wilkins and Susan Lalonde

contour of the hill. Three main subphases were recognised in the ditch and bank sections (phases 2a, 2b and 2c; Fig. 2). In the eastern portion of the enclosure three contemporary ditches (1260, 1359 and 1475) served to partially delineate the cemetery area, separating it from the rest of the site. The similarity of the fills of these features, their parallel construction and the lack of truncation suggested that they were contemporary rather than successive phases of recut. A number of discrete but undated features were also identified as most likely belonging to the occupation phase of the enclosure. The main feature of phase 2 was a U-shaped ditch (1023) with the partial remnants of an internal upcast bank (Fig. 2; Pl. 2). It measured approximately 65m by 47m and was situated in a commanding position at the top of the hill, overlooking a valley and the surrounding landscape. The enclosure continued around the brow of the hill and was truncated by the line of the proposed road scheme, with approximately a third of the enclosed area beyond the limit of excavation.The enclosure ditch was on average 1.5m deep and 3m wide at the top and was excavated by a series of sixteen 2m-wide slots (Figs 2 and 3).There were no breaks in the ditch indicating an entrance, although this may lie in the unexcavated part of the site. The upcast bank was partly preserved by a much later drystone field wall that respected the line of the bank for a short distance in the southern part of the site (Pl. 2). The main deposits filling ditch 1023 were fairly uniform, and variations were accounted for by changes in the natural subsoil through which the ditch had been cut (Fig. 2). The three main subphases recognised in the ditch and bank sections are as follows. After the construction of the ditch (phase 2a), a thin layer of silt and unconsolidated natural subsoil was washed into its base (phase 2b). The primary silting began soon after construction, as the upcast bank began to slump back into the ditch. The presence of slump material on both sides of the ditch indicates that unconsolidated material eroded from the sides of the ditch as well as from the internal bank. Following this initial slumping, the ditch stabilised into an S-shaped profile, consolidated by a possible vegetation layer (phase 2b). This was followed by a final phase when the ditch was deliberately backfilled with large stones and boulders, probably as a result of field clearance (phase 2c). A series of small, isolated burnt patches were identified in the upper topsoil deposits filling the ditch but proved too diffuse to section properly.They were often discovered against, or near to, the outside of the ditch cut, particularly around the northern and north-eastern parts of the ditch. These features were interpreted as temporary hearths located within the depression formed by the partially silted ditch, which may have been chosen

because it would act as a windbreak. The evidence for phase 2 occupation is quite limited, comprising a few discrete features that do not seem to belong to phase 1 or phase 3. These included a subrectangular pit (1292) with steep sides and a flat base that was located outside the enclosure near the northern end of the excavated area. It was interpreted as a cooking pit owing to its alternating fills of charcoal and silt, indicating in situ burning. The burning was concentrated at the northern end of the pit, where there was also evidence of burnt clay in its base. It was 2.7m long, 1.2m wide and 0.65m deep. A further feature (1346) was a pit to the north of the site, also interpreted as a cooking pit. Soil analysis of samples recovered high concentrations of charcoal, a small quantity of unidentified burnt animal bone but no charred cereal grain. Feature 1351 was subrectangular and aligned north–south, with gentle sides that were steeper on the northern and southern ends. The base was concave and dropped to a deeper northern end, where most of the burnt bone was found. It was lined with medium-sized stones and was 3.02m in length, 2.5m in width and 0.35m in maximum depth. The animal bone assemblage from Carrowkeel provided much better evidence for domestic occupation (see Appendix 1;Tourunen 2007).The total assemblage comprised 13,631 specimens characteristic of domestic waste, consisting of both high- and lowutility skeletal elements. No wild mammal specimens relating to subsistence were recovered. Cattle were the dominant species, followed by sheep, pig and horse, and these derive mainly from the main enclosure ditch.The animal bones were characteristic of domestic waste, consisting of butchery remains, food debris and discarded dead animals like cats and dogs or stillborn calves, piglets and lambs. House mice bones (Mus musculus) were recovered from processed soil samples originating from a context in the main enclosure ditch at the interface between phases 2b and 2c. They were radiocarbon-dated to cal. AD 860–1020 (GU-15327) and cal. AD 670–890 (GU-15326). Because mice are burrowing animals it cannot be assumed that these ranges accurately date phases 2b and 2c, but this possibility is strongly supported by the fact that these date ranges are broadly contemporary with cemetery phase 2 (below). The house mouse tends to live near human populations and does not dig deeply into the ground, so there is every possibility that these bones derive from animals contemporary with the main phase of occupation within the enclosure. In addition, these ranges are of intrinsic significance because before now it was not certain that the house mouse was present in Ireland prior to the arrival of the Anglo-Normans (see Appendix 1; Tourunen 2007).

An early medieval settlement/cemetery at Carrowkeel, Co. Galway 63

Fig. 3—Metal artefacts.

64 Brendon Wilkins and Susan Lalonde

Fig. 4—Cemetery phases at Carrowkeel.

PHASE 2: THE CEMETERY A clearly defined cemetery area was excavated in the eastern half of the large enclosure. It was partially delimited by three slightly curving parallel ditches, 1260, 1359 and 1475, which (within the excavated

area) extended from the south side of the cemetery to its eastern end. Here they terminated, leaving the north-eastern and north-western sides of the cemetery unenclosed.These ditches bounded the cemetery in an area where the underlying topography took a pronounced slope. The division of this area from the rest of the enclosure indicates an internal separation of activities, with no burials extending beyond these ditches to the south-east.

An early medieval settlement/cemetery at Carrowkeel, Co. Galway 65

Fig. 5—Sections of cemetery ditches.

Two discrete features excavated in the cemetery area could have been structural, although no clear pattern could be discerned. An oval post-hole (1229) was recorded adjacent to the limit of excavation, truncated by the cemetery phase 2 burial of skeleton 32. It contained a single bird talon but no other finds. Close to this a second oval post-hole (1279) was recorded, truncated on the south side by the cemetery phase 1 burial of skeleton 49. These features were identified close to the limit of excavation, and they raise the possibility that there was a structure in this area during cemetery phase 2. The human remains assemblage represented a total of 158 individuals, a minimum number calculated from both articulated burials (132 individuals) and disarticulated bone (26 individuals). The burials can be split into four cemetery phases over 800 years from the seventh to the fifteenth century. Phasing of the cemetery was undertaken using a combination of stratigraphic analysis and radiocarbon dating of 40 individuals.Table 1 shows the distribution of adults and non-adults across the cemetery population. In this case, ‘Juvenile’ covers age categories from younger child to adolescent, from six to eighteen years at death (Appendix 4).

Cemetery phase 1 (c. 650–850) At some time between c. AD 650 and 770, ditch 1260 was dug at the eastern extent of the burial-ground, forming a curving boundary to this part of the cemetery. This was the largest of the three ditches delimiting the cemetery area, with steep sides and a concave base, a maximum width of 2.46m and maximum depth of 1m. A consistent deposit sequence was observed, although slight variation in the composition of fills was recorded. The primary fill (1368) was identified in all sections. It was rapidly deposited soon after construction as the sides of the freshly cut ditch weathered. This was followed by secondary deposit 1353, which had gradually accumulated through the natural silting of the ditch and surrounding ground surface over time. The carcasses of at least eleven sheep were buried within the basal fill (1368). The colouration of the ends of long bones indicates that they were articulated when buried, probably placed longitudinally, although there was some degree of post-depositional disturbance (Appendix 1). Any cutting of the bodies prior to deposition was more likely for ease of transport rather than for consumption. The adolescent remains of skeleton 72 were also

66 Brendon Wilkins and Susan Lalonde

Table 1—Number of individuals in the assemblage from Carrowkeel, by cemetery phase and age category.

Cemetery phase 1 2 3 4

Calendar date (AD) 650–850 850–1050 1050–1250 1340–1450

Foetus 8 24 3 2 37

Infant 6 23 5 34

Juvenile 12 25 5 42

Adult Male 3 2 2 7

Adult Female 7 1 8

Total 37 75 18 2 132

Table 2—Radiocarbon dating results from cemetery phase 1 individuals.

SK no. 1 22 27 51 53 57 69 70 72 85 86 87 93 100 107 112 113 114 115 119 122 124 125

Age category Young adult Older middle adult Younger child Older adult Infant Younger middle adult Younger adult Older child Adolescent Older child Younger child Younger child Infant Younger child Younger middle adult Foetus Younger child Younger middle adult Younger adult Younger middle adult Younger adult Infant Foetus

Sex Female Male – Female – Female Male – – – – – – – Male – – Male Female Female Female – –

Lab no. UB-7448 UB-7412 UB-7414 UB-7417 UB-7418 UB-7420 UB-7423 UB-7424 UB-7425 UB-7430 UB-7431 UB-7432 UB-7434 UB-7435 UB-7436 UB-7483 UB-7439 UB-7440 UB-7441 UB-7443 UB-7445 UB-7446 UB-7447

BP date 1249 ± 31 1186 ± 32 1156 ± 31 1228 ± 31 1214 ± 31 1264 ± 31 1244 ± 32 1182 ± 32 1250 ± 34 1185 ± 31 1193 ± 34 1261 ± 33 1215 ± 32 1203 ± 32 1193 ± 31 1227 ± 31 1168 ± 32 1301 ± 31 1182 ± 31 1305 ± 34 1196 ± 35 1223 ± 33 1193 ± 33

Calendar date (AD) 678–832 770–899 798–906 761–884 765–890 667–783 682–872 771–900 676–870 770–899 766–899 668–827 764–890 765–895 768–897 761–884 775–903 660–772 771–900 658–773 765–898 761–887 767–898

interred within ditch 1260, deposited as the feature was beginning to silt up. The burial was partially cut into the silting deposit (1353) and the north-western section of the ditch terminus. This burial also cut the interface between this ditch and the smaller ditch (1359). This individual was buried in a flexed position (Pl. 3) and was dated to cal. AD 676–870 (UB-7425) (Table 2). Following this burial, the ditch continued to silt and skeleton 33 (cal. AD 857–991 (UB-7482)) was interred directly above its south-western end. Other cemetery phase 1 burials (skeletons 42 and 52) were also interred over both ditches 1260 and 1359. Cemetery phase 2 skeletons 13, 14 and 71 also utilised the ditch area once both ditches had fallen out of use. Even then, however, the remnants of the ditches were probably visible and continued to be perceived as the boundary of the cemetery, for no interments took place

outside the south-eastern edge of ditch 1260. A smaller ditch (1359) ran parallel to ditch 1260 (Fig. 1). It had steep sides with a concave base and a maximum depth of 0.44m. The function of this ditch was difficult to determine, as it was very close to the larger ditch feature (1260) and comparatively very narrow. One possibility is that it formed the foundation trench for a palisade fence, although no post-holes were discovered within it. Ditch feature 1475 was located 3m south of these two ditches and further downslope. It also terminated at the eastern end of the cemetery. It had a V-shaped profile, was 1m wide and 0.5m deep, and the primary deposit (1477) had accumulated as a consequence of the slumping of upcast material and colluvial erosion. The secondary deposit (1476) was likely to be the result of stones and gravel accumulating at the base of the ploughsoil in the depression of the

An early medieval settlement/cemetery at Carrowkeel, Co. Galway 67

ditch, probably owing to bioturbation and worm action.The similarity of fills and the lack of intercutting stratigraphy made the relationships between these three ditches difficult to determine. The presence of cemetery phase 2 burials directly above ditches 1359 and 1260 suggests that these ditches may be contemporary. It is possible that ditch 1475 is a replacement cemetery boundary, dating from cemetery phase 2, but this is not supported by any dating evidence. The cemetery phase 1 assemblage totals 37 individuals (28% of the whole), 22 of whom were radiocarbon-dated (Table 2). Just over 70% of the individuals from cemetery phase 1 are non-adults. This group can be further subdivided into foetus (14%), perinate (8%), infant (16%), younger child (16%), older child (11%) and adolescent (5%). Of the adults at Carrowkeel, cemetery phase 1 has 61% of the total number, and almost 90% of the females. Of those burials for which direction could be assessed, the majority (76%, n = 28) lay north-east/south-west (Fig. 4). Body position was recorded for 31 individuals; 71% (n = 22) were supine and extended, while the remaining 29% (n = 9) were found to be flexed. The majority of the flexed burials were non-adults, aside from skeleton 51 and skeleton 119, both adult females. Cemetery phase 2 (c. 850–1050) The second cemetery phase dates from the mid-ninth to the eleventh century (Table 3; Fig. 6).The largest part of the assemblage, this cemetery phase contains 75 individuals, 93% (n = 73) of which are non-adult. The only adult remains present were skeleton 90 and skeleton 105, both male. Cemetery phase 2 contains the largest proportion of very young children. Of these, 64% were below one year of age at death (foetus 27%, perinate 7%, neonate 4% and infant 27%).Younger children made up 16%, and 12% were older children. The excavated portion of the cemetery appears to have been used almost exclusively for the burial of non-adults in this period. Body position was more varied than in cemetery phase 1.This is probably linked to the higher number of non-adults, who show more differention in their burial positions than the adults. In total, 44% (n = 33) were

buried supine and extended, 1% (n = 1) crouched and 21% (n = 16) flexed. One infant, skeleton 50, was buried flexed and prone, the only burial of its type in the cemetery. The crouched burial of a younger child, skeleton 84, is also unique in the assemblage. As in cemetery phase 1, the majority of the burials were aligned north-east/south-west. Four individuals, skeletons 10, 17, 18 and 34, were truncated by later agricultural activity in the form of an east–west furrow. Cemetery phase 3 (c. 1050–1250) It appears that the cemetery began to fall out of use during the latter part of cemetery phase 3, dating from the mid-eleventh to the mid-thirteenth century (Table 4; Fig. 7). Only eighteen individuals were recovered from this phase, with a more even spread of age categories than in the previous cemetery phases. This may indicate a shift in use of this portion of the cemetery towards a more ‘normal’ burial population. Non-adults still account for 78% (n = 14) of the cemetery phase 3 assemblage, but they are older than in cemetery phase 2, with only 44% (n = 8) below one year of age at death (foetus 17%, infant 28%). No perinates, neonates or adolescents were recovered in this period. Burial orientation followed the same broad pattern as cemetery phases 1 and 2, with 67% (n = 12) aligned north-east/south-west (Fig. 4). Body position was more uniform. Supine extended burials account for 50% (n = 9) of the group and 17% were flexed.The remaining 33% (n = 6) were disarticulated. East–west furrow 1169 also truncates two individuals in this period, skeletons 46 and 47. Skeleton 46 was recovered disarticulated within the furrow itself. Cemetery phase 4 (c. 1340–1450) Only two individuals belong to the final cemetery phase (Table 5). One dates from the fourteenth century, while the other dates from the fifteenth century. This may indicate a move away from this portion of the cemetery, the discontinuation of use of the burialground as a whole, or later burials unconnected with the earlier cemetery phases. The very young age of both burials suggests that in this period the site was used as a cillín.

Table 3—Radiocarbon dating results from cemetery phase 2 individuals.

SK no. 16 17 24 33 41 82 121

Age category Older child Younger child Foetus Older child Infant Older child Older child

Lab no. UB-7449 UB-7411 UB-7413 UB-7482 UB-7416 UB-7429 UB-7444

BP date 1113 ± 32 1129 ± 31 1148 ± 31 1127 ± 32 1125 ± 31 1104 ± 31 1113 ± 32

Calendar date (AD) 869–1015 857–989 804–975 857–991 859–991 885–999 869–1015

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Fig. 6—Cemetery phase 2 (AD 850–1050). Table 4—Radiocarbon dating results from cemetery phase 3 individuals.

SK no. 60 74 77 79 89 110 111 116

Age category Foetus Infant Adult Older middle adult Younger adult Infant Younger middle adult Younger child

Sex – – Female Male Female – Male –

Lab no. UB-7422 UB-7426 UB-7427 UB-7428 UB-7433 UB-7437 UB-7438 UB-7442

BP date 815 ± 31 830 ± 31 940 ± 31 906 ± 31 954 ± 31 949 ± 32 935 ± 31 907 ± 30

Calendar date (AD) 1169–1269 1159–1265 1024–1161 1038–1208 1022–1156 1023–1208 1024–1165 1037–1192

An early medieval settlement/cemetery at Carrowkeel, Co. Galway 69

Fig. 7—Cemetery phase 3 (AD 1050–1250).

The demographic profile The Carrowkeel assemblage is dominated by nonadults (Table 1). Only 11% of the individuals are adults. There were no older adults and the majority died before the age of 35. Males and females were equally represented in the adult portion of the assemblage; the majority of females were found in cemetery phase 1, however. This may indicate preferential burial of women in one area of the cemetery during this earliest period. Estimations of attained adult stature showed close male and female means (168cm and 164cm respectively). Often stressed populations will not achieve their full genetic potential, especially in adult stature levels. Males tend to be more affected than females, with the result that there is less sexual dimorphism in stature level (S. Lewis 1997, 35). The calculation of a life table provided an estimated life expectancy of 55 years for the assemblage. The size

of the population from which the assemblage is derived was calculated using formulae provided by Acsádi and Nemeskéri (1970): P = D(e/t)K, where P = size of living population, D = size of skeletal assemblage (158), e = life expectancy at birth (28.5), t = time-span of cemetery (800), and K = constant (10% of t) (80). The contributing population size was thus estimated to be 450.3 individuals over 800 years. It should be remembered that as the cemetery was not fully excavated this number refers only to the size of population for this part of the cemetery. In reality, the associated population may have been much larger. As discussed above, the assemblage was characterised by young children, with almost 90% made up of non-adults. Over 53% of individuals were

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Table 5—Radiocarbon dating results from cemetery phase 4 individuals.

SK no. 15 54

Age category Foetus Foetus

Lab no. UB-7410 UB-7419

BP date 499 ± 29 638 ± 30

Calendar date (AD) 1400–1447 1340–1396 aged below one year; of these, 52% were foetuses (28% of the whole assemblage). It is suggested that this reflects the spatial organisation of the cemetery rather than the totally separate burial of children as in a cillín. Had the entire cemetery been excavated, the assemblage may have resembled a normal population with an even distribution of age categories. Using regression formulae developed by Scheuer et al. (1980), it was possible to further refine the age estimation of the foetuses through limb bone measurements. Age estimation data were then compared to information on modern still and live births. Cemetery phases 3 (n = 3) and 4 (n = 2) were not included in this analysis owing to their small sample size. Foetal age distribution follows the ‘flat’ pattern of modern stillbirths, suggesting normal losses through premature birth or miscarriage rather than infanticide practised at birth (Fig. 8). If the latter were true, we might expect a peak of foetal deaths around 38–40 weeks, following the live birth pattern (Mays 1998, 64–5). High infant mortality is a common feature of past populations when, for the first year of life, children were particularly vulnerable. In a review of 42 assemblages and 9,658 individuals, Lewis found a second peak of mortality during the weaning period, a highly dangerous time owing to bacterial infections from feeding bottles and traditional weaning ‘paps’. The age at which children enter the adult world can also sometimes be recognised in the archaeological record, with an increase in deaths around the age of ten to nineteen years as they are exposed to the dangers of the wider world (M. Lewis 2007, 86–7). The Carrowkeel assemblage does not follow the expected trend of non-adult mortality (Fig. 9). In contrast to the expected peak between ten and nineteen years, all cemetery phases from Carrowkeel experience a fall.This may have more to do with the spatial uses of the excavated portion of the cemetery than with an actual mortality pattern. Certainly we do see a peak in infant losses and again in the older child group. It is possible that the children of the Carrowkeel population are entering the adult world at this latter stage, being expected to help with domestic and agricultural tasks, and suffering fatal accidents while undertaking these duties.

Fig. 8—Distribution of foetal deaths from Carrowkeel by cemetery phase compared to modern stillbirth and live birth rates (after Mays 1998, 64–5).

Fig. 9—Patterns of non-adult mortality from Carrowkeel presented by cemetery phase and in comparison with the expected trend (after M. Lewis 2007, 86).

An early medieval settlement/cemetery at Carrowkeel, Co. Galway 71

Health and disease In general the sample appears to be healthy, with low rates of infectious disease and trauma. Prevalence rates of congenital conditions were also low. Pathological conditions that were noted were linked to physical activity and poor nutrition. Poor levels of nutrition were also seen in metrical analyses. Levels of general health appear to have fallen in the later phases.This can be seen through the increasing rates of dental enamel hypoplasia, porotic hyperostosis and cribra orbitalia in cemetery phases 2 and 3. These increases could be linked to a genuine fall in the levels of nutrition and general health of the population, or they could be connected to the shift in focus of the cemetery towards more child burials. If the section of the population being buried in this part of the cemetery is different, we may expect a difference in the rate of general health indicators. Dental disease Rates of calculus (plaque) and periodontal (gum) disease are high in all cemetery phases, while caries and abscesses are rare throughout the sample. This suggests that the diet probably did not contain a lot of cariogenic foods such as sugar and refined carbohydrates. The pattern of calculus deposition suggests that oral hygiene was poor. Cemetery phase 2 sees a clear reduction in all types of dental disease. This is probably due to the high number of infants and foetal remains with unerupted dentition.

Activity indicators Although fracture rates were low, the assemblage clearly derives from an active population. The presence of os acromiale also indicates an active non-adult population. Os acromiale is thought to be the result of strenuous movements of the shoulder during an individual’s period of growth (Pl. 4). Regarded as a rare anomaly today, it is largely seen in professional sports people such as baseball players, who often train heavily during adolescence (Knüsel 2000, 103–5). The Carrowkeel assemblage showed two bilateral examples of the condition from cemetery phases 2 and 3, in a young adult female and middle adult male respectively. Only the adult sample was assessed for degenerative joint disease. The rate of vertebral degradation remained constant at 28–29% from cemetery phases 1 to 3. Males showed higher rates of degradation, probably linked to more strenuous activity. While degenerative joint disease was a constant in the adult sample, cases were mild and restricted to osteophytic lipping of joint surfaces. There were no cases of osteoarthritis, which requires eburnation (polishing of the joint surface) for a positive diagnosis. Extra-spinal joint degradation was only found in cemetery phase 1. This is probably due to the low number of adults in the later periods and their younger age profile, as this group of pathologies is strongly linked to advancing age. Non-metric traits Non-metric, or discontinuous, traits are classed as nonpathological variants in bone morphology, such as the

Pl. 4—Os acromiale of the right scapula, skeleton 90, a middle-aged adult male, cemetery phase 2.

72 Brendon Wilkins and Susan Lalonde

familial relationship between some of the individuals. The general low level of trait expressions and the partial nature of the assemblage mean that any trends within the data may not be reliable, however.




Fig. 10—Cranial non-metric traits displayed by the adult sample from Carrowkeel, providing the expression of a trait as a percentage of the possible expressions within the phase. Definitions of each trait can be found in Table 6.

A large oval pit (1375) truncated the main enclosure ditch during the final stages of silting. It had concave sides and was 1m deep and 5m wide. The primary fill was predominantly silt and the secondary fill was predominantly cobbles and large stones, the probable result of field clearance. A series of parallel north/south-running linear cultivation features was identified outside the enclosure to the north. They were generally 0.48m wide, 0.08m deep and 16m long, with a concave profile filled with orange-brown silty clay. They respected the course of the main enclosure, running up to the ditch but not continuing into the interior. The enclosure had been identified on the first edition OS map, dated to 1838 (sheet 72), though not on subsequent map surveys. These furrows respect the enclosure and represent cultivation when the enclosure was still extant, sometime prior to the early nineteenth century.

presence of an extra foramen on the anterior mandible, ossicle within cranial sutures or the presence of a third trochanter on the femur.There is some argument in the literature as to the cause and significance of these traits, and several studies have used them as markers of biodistance between populations and within samples (Bondioli et al. 1986; Ossenberg 1976). The relationship between trait expression and age is controversial; trait expression is not necessarily an indicator of familial relationships. Many infra-cranial traits may be related to physiological rather than genetic factors (Tyrrell 2000). The Carrowkeel sample was assessed for 45 traits in total, 28 cranial and seventeen post-cranial. Primary traits (Buikstra and Ubelaker 1994) that were expressed by more than one individual were plotted into Fig. 10. Phases 1 and 2 show an increase in the parietal foramina and mandibular tori. The septal aperture is only found in cemetery phase 1. This trait is reliably genetically linked, and is often expressed only by females. It is likely that it only appears in cemetery phase 1 owing to the high number of females in this phase. The absence of the trait in the later phases does not indicate a change in population. The positive expression of mandibular tori is thought to have a genetic cause (Gorsky et al. 1998). The consistent presence of this trait in the assemblage may indicate a

DISCUSSION The main enclosure at Carrowkeel was probably constructed in the seventh or, less likely, the eighth century. At this time a great number of enclosed settlements were being constructed in Ireland. Most of them fall into one of two categories: ringforts and cashels, which are secular farmsteads of circular plan, and ecclesiastical settlements, which often have larger, less regular but usually curvilinear enclosures (e.g. Stout 1997, 14, 100; Swan 1983). Carrowkeel cannot be assigned to either of these categories.Though structural evidence was limited, the large animal bone assemblage suggests that it served as a settlement for a considerable period. Given that under two thirds of the enclosure was excavated, a question remains as to how representative the recovered evidence is. A significant portion of the site lay beyond the line of the proposed road scheme, and the location of possible structures in this area, especially towards the brow of the hill, should not be ruled out. Nevertheless, its overall morphology and the presence of a cemetery rule out its classification as a ringfort. Its somewhat irregular shape is more reminiscent of an ecclesiastical enclosure, and the position of its cemetery in the eastern half of the enclosure is also

An early medieval settlement/cemetery at Carrowkeel, Co. Galway 73

paralleled in the majority of ecclesiastical sites. Swan (1983, 274) defined ecclesiastical sites on the basis of eleven attributes: evidence of enclosure, a burial area (normally in the south-east corner), a place-name with an ecclesiastical element, structural remains, a nearby holy well, a bullaun stone, a carved or decorated stone cross or slab, a townland boundary forming part of the enclosure, a souterrain, a pillar stone, a founder’s tomb, and a traditional ritual or folk custom. He further specified that at least five of these are required. On this basis Carrowkeel would not qualify as an ecclesiastical site. The absence of evidence for a church in particular means that it cannot be definitively classified as ecclesiastical, though it is possible that a church stood in the unexcavated part of the enclosure. Alternatively, Carrowkeel may belong to a group of sites recently recognised as a result of pre-development archaeology that are generally referred to as settlement/cemeteries (e.g. Clarke 2002; Seaver 2006; A. O’Sullivan and Harney 2008, 78–84). In many respects these are similar to ecclesiastical settlements but they appear to lack church buildings. The possibility that they were not ecclesiastical sites is supported by documentary evidence that indicates that until at least the eighth century some communities were not bringing their dead for churchyard burial but continued to bury them in non-ecclesiastical family burial-grounds (O’Brien 1984; 1999, 52). Compilers of the early eighth-century Collectio Canonum Hibernensis were not entirely opposed to the continuing use of ancestral burial-grounds.They cited biblical precedents for the practice, in particular the example of Jacob and Joseph, who requested that their bones be carried back from Egypt to the land of Canaan in order that they might be buried in the tomb of their ancestors. Increasingly, however, monks, ecclesiastical tenants and sections of the wider population were being encouraged to have their affiliation recognised in death through burial at ecclesiastical sites (O’Brien 1999, 52). Some ancestral burial-grounds were unenclosed or partially enclosed sites dedicated purely to burial, but others, the so-called settlement/cemeteries, like Johnstown, Raystown and Carrowkeel, are within larger enclosures that were used for occupation as well as burial. To date, the vast majority of these have been identified in Leinster. Carrowkeel is particularly significant as it is the first possible example excavated west of the Shannon. The cemetery at Carrowkeel remained in use until the fifteenth century. The social conditions in which the cemetery was established were very different to those that led to its eventual abandonment. Both founding and abandonment represent breaks with tradition: a significant initial investment in a new cemetery and an active decision not to continue to

place the dead in the usual site of disposal (Parker Pearson 1999).To focus discussion on the foundation of the site, Chrisitianity had already become established as the dominant belief system by AD 600 (Edwards 1990, 99), so religious reasons were unlikely to have been the only, or indeed the principal, motivation for the founding of Carrowkeel. Possibly it was founded as a result of a family lineage breaking away from a larger kin group. The prominence of Carrowkeel on a hill overlooking an area of known early medieval and prehistoric activity (RMP: GA097-068) may have influenced the choice of location for the main enclosure. Another factor may have been the presence of earlier ditches and discrete features pre-dating the main enclosure, though the date, duration and character of this earlier phase of activity remain unclear. Notwithstanding the trend towards burial at ecclesiastical sites, it seems that a group at Carrowkeel continued to bury their dead, or at least some of their dead, in a non-ecclesiastical burial-ground throughout the early medieval period and beyond. They may have had pragmatic reasons for doing so. The founding of the cemetery and its enduring use as a formal burial area was a deliberate strategy by a group bound by familial and kinship ties to perpetuate their relationship with their ancestors. The act of burial makes the remains of the dead a fixed part of the landscape, thereby legitimising the rights of the living to it (Parker Pearson 1999, 125). In a predominantly pastoral economy based on a transhumance model of summer grazing, the settlement enclosure would also have helped to secure tenure of the surrounding land. Seasonal occupation is one possible explanation for the limited evidence for substantial structures within the enclosure. Funerary practices The extent to which pagan or Christian religious beliefs can be seen to dictate burial custom at Carrowkeel throughout this period is uncertain. The role of Christian ideology in the Irish early medieval period can be usefully separated into two phases: an expansion period when the faith was still a minority practice and not fully integrated, and a consolidation period when Christianity was the dominant (but not exclusive) belief system (Mytum 1992, 60). The positioning of the body as a supine west–east inhumation is usually regarded as a Christian practice. This reflects the Christian belief that the dead will rise again, and an alignment with the orientation of the rising sun during Eastertide (mid- to late April) was preferred. A lack of grave-goods is also interpreted as reflecting a change from a pagan to a Christian conception of the afterlife. Cross-cultural surveys of burial practice also advise

74 Brendon Wilkins and Susan Lalonde

Pl. 3—Adolescent flexed burial at the terminus of ditch 1260, cemetery phase 1 (cal. AD 676–870).

caution when applying generalisations: because of the diverse nature of mortuary rites there will usually be divergences from the norm (Ucko 1969, 262). An analysis of the Irish excavation evidence indicates that Roman burial customs were adopted independently of Christianity, so there must be other supporting evidence to determine the religion of an individual (Raftery 1981).The Carrowkeel burials were almost all uniformly simple in nature, with little evidence of lining of graves, grave-markers or grave-goods. Burial was in accordance with Christian rites in a roughly east–west orientation, although there were some startling departures from the general pattern. Unusual burials included the flexed

adolescent found at the terminus of ditch 1260 from cemetery phase 1 (Fig. 4; Pl. 3), the tightly crouched adolescent from cemetery phase 2 and the highly unorthodox ‘akimbo’ female burial, also from cemetery phase 2 (Fig. 4). The placement of these individuals in deliberately different burial positions may indicate that some funerary rituals were the site of contested meaning, although the reasons why they were accorded such treatment was not evident. No patterning in either age, sex or temporal and spatial distribution could be identified, and no pathological conditions could be determined that would have singled these individuals out as different.

An early medieval settlement/cemetery at Carrowkeel, Co. Galway 75

River-rolled quartz and some animal bone were also found in a number of burials, which may represent older, non-Christian practices retained by the population, although quartz pebbles are commonly found in burials at early ecclesiastical sites (Cardy 1997, 556; White Marshall and Walsh 2005, 81). The pattern of quartz deposition does not vary greatly between the cemetery phases, nor does there seem to be a significant trend in the inclusion of quartz with male, female or non-adult burials.The significance of the stone to Irish burial culture is not certain; quartz may symbolise the soul of the dead, or light the way into the next world. Excavations in Wales have also found quartz placed in graves dating from the early medieval period, and it has been suggested that the practice is linked to a passage from Revelations which states ‘. . . give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it’ (Revelations 2:17, quoted in Holbrook 2005). Segregated burial in the early medieval period Phase 1 of the cemetery was made up of three distinct subphases, identified through stratigraphic analysis and a programme of radiocarbon dating. The majority of burials (n = 75) were found in phase 2 of the cemetery, dating from AD 850 to 1050. This is distinct in character from the earlier and later use of this section of the cemetery, and seems to provide evidence for the deliberate spatial segregation of children. Cillíní are essentially children’s burial-grounds, common throughout Ireland but mainly focused in the western counties such as Kerry and Galway (Dennehy 1997). They are known to have been in use during the medieval and post-medieval periods, but their origins remain obscure. Often sited in visible monuments such as abandoned ringforts, tower-houses and ecclesiastical ruins, they have been described as a physical embodiment of limbo within the landscape. The development of this practice is assumed to coincide with the twelfth-century Church reforms leading to the establishment of the doctrine of limbo infantus (Finlay 2000, 408–9). Archaeologically, cillíní are recognised through the seemingly disorganised burial of very young children within older monuments, often overlying more organised and formal burials. During excavation it was assumed that the cluster of young children buried at Carrowkeel represented the later, probably postmedieval reuse of the site as a cillín. The extensive programme of radiocarbon dating undertaken on the remains showed this not to be the case, and generated questions about the origin of the cillín tradition and how this may relate to the spatial segregation of children within early medieval cemetery populations. It is possible that the separate burial of children in the

early medieval period was a common phenomenon across Britain and Ireland, one which had an influence on the Irish tradition of cillín burial in later centuries. While the separate burial of children in cillíní has been well documented for the later and post-medieval period in Ireland (Finlay 2000), there has been little evidence for the segregation of children in the early medieval period, although in recent years excavations at the Rock of Cashel and Raystown, Co. Meath (Hodkinson 2003; Seaver 2006), have found separate clusters of non-adults within larger cemeteries. Clusters of child burials are often found within Anglo-Saxon cemeteries, and there does appear to be a Christian trend in early medieval Britain for the separation of young children within cemeteries such as Raunds Furnells in Northamptonshire and Whithorn Priory in Galloway (Boddington 1987; Cardy 1997).The pattern is also seen at other ecclesiastical sites in Europe from the period, including the cathedrals of Trondheim and Hamar in Norway (M. Lewis 2007, 30–3). The segregated burial of children has also been recognised at the Late Roman site of Cazzanello in central Italy, where a small group of perinate burials was found within the remains of a fourth-century AD bathhouse. This seems to form part of a wider Etruscan pattern that may be a precursor to the modern Italian practice of separate burial for foreigners and very young children (Becker 2007, 290). There is evidence for the segregation of certain groups during the medieval and post-medieval period at sites such as Relignaman, Co. Tyrone (Hamlin and Foley 1983), and St Ronan’s, Iona (J. O’Sullivan 1994), where the separate burial of women is connected to the presence of convents or chapels dedicated to the Virgin. Defining conceptual divisions between the dead, therefore, may be a common European practice which in some areas develops into the practice of establishing totally separate burial-grounds for certain sections of society. The Carrowkeel assemblage provides a securely dated example of the spatial segregation of children in an Irish context. This spatial segregation of children in one section of the cemetery may be a precursor to the later and post-medieval cillín tradition, which is now becoming better understood but whose origins remain obscure (Finlay 2000). Recent excavations at Cloncowan II, Co. Meath (Baker 2007, 72), revealed an earlier ditched enclosure reused as a possible cillín between the tenth and thirteenth centuries. This corresponds to Carrowkeel cemetery phase 3 and suggests an emerging pattern. The work reported here should highlight the importance of extensive radiocarbon dating of cemeteries, or areas within cemeteries, dominated by infant remains, for it shows that we cannot assume that these are post-medieval

76 Brendon Wilkins and Susan Lalonde

cillín assemblages. Rather, like the Carrowkeel assemblage, they may provide important new insights into the complex and potentially early origins of this phenomenon.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS The authors are indebted to all staff at Headland Archaeology Ltd, particularly Stuart Callow, Kevin Murphy and Deborah Riches, who supervised the excavations, and to Emer O’Donovan and Bryan McDomhnail for survey work. Dr Stephen Lancaster visited the site on two occasions and assisted greatly with interpretation of the archaeological sediments. Thanks to Eavan O’Dochartaigh for all illustrations and to Amy Bunce for drafting the stratigraphic report. Thanks must also go to Colm Maloney, who projectmanaged the excavation, and to Damian Shiels, who managed all post-excavation work. Sincere thanks to Jerry O’Sullivan, NRA Project Archaeologist, and also to Martin Jones, NRA Assistant Project Archaeologist, who provided welcome comment and guidance at all stages of the project. Thanks to the staff of RPS Consulting Engineers for their assistance throughout the project—Senior Resident Engineer Tom Prendergast, Resident Engineer Niall Healy and Resident Archaeologist Ross MacLeod. We would also both like to extend thanks to Jean Price for her patience with the final editing of this text. Special and final thanks are reserved for our team of excavators, who braved the storms through three cold months on what has to be the windiest hill in County Galway.

BIBLIOGRAPHY Acsádi, G. and Nemeskéri, J. 1970. History of human life span and mortality. Budapest. Baker, C. 2007. Excavations at Cloncowan II, Co. Meath. Journal of Irish Archaeology 16, 61–133. Ballin, T. 2007. The lithics from Carrowkeel, Co. Galway. Unpublished report for Headland Archaeology Ltd. Becker, M.J. 2007. Childhood among the Etruscans: mortuary programs at Tarquina as the indicator of the transition to adult status. In A. Cohen and J. B. Rutter (eds), The construction of childhood in ancient Greece and Italy, 281–92. Athens. Boddington, A. 1987. Raunds, Northamptonshire: analysis of a country churchyard. World Archaeology 18, 411–25. Bondioli, L., Corruccini, R.S. and Macchiarelli, R. 1986. Familial segregation in the Iron Age community of Alfedena, Abruzzo, Italy, based on

osteodontal trait analysis. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 71, 393–400. Buczacki, S. 2002. Fauna Britannica. Hamlyn. Buikstra, J. and Ubelaker, D. (eds) 1994. Standards for data collection from human skeletal remains. Arkansas. Cardy, A. 1997. The human bones. In P. Hill (ed.), Whithorn and St Ninian: the excavation of a monastic town 1984–1991, 519–92. Stroud. Clark, J. (ed.) 1995. Medieval finds from excavations in London 5: the medieval horse and its equipment, c. 1150–1450. London. Clarke, D.V. 1971. Small finds in the Atlantic province: problems of approach. Scottish Archaeological Forum 3, 22–54. Clarke, L. 2002. An early medieval enclosure and burials, Johnstown, Co. Meath. Archaeology Ireland 16(3), 13–15. D’Arcy, G. 2006. The animals of Ireland. Dublin. Dennehy, E. 1997. The ceallunaigh of County Kerry: an archaeological perspective. Unpublished MA thesis, University College Cork. Edwards, N. 1990. The archaeology of early medieval Ireland. London. Egan, G. 1998. Medieval finds from excavations in London 6: the medieval household, daily living c. 1150–1450. London. Finlay, N. 2000. Outside of life: traditions of infant burial in Ireland from cíllín to cist. World Archaeology 31, 407–22. Goodall, I.H. 1993. Iron currying and leather-working tools. In S. Margeson (ed.), Norwich households: the medieval and post-medieval finds from Norwich Survey excavations 1971–1978, 189–90. Norwich. Gorsky, M., Bukai, A. and Shohat, M. 1998. Genetic influence on the prevalence of torus platanius. American Journal of Medical Genetics 75, 138–40. Hamlin, A. and Foley, C. 1983. A women’s graveyard at Carrickmore, Co. Tyrone, and the separate burial of women. Ulster Journal of Archaeology 46, 41–6. Hodkinson, B.J. 2003. First draft final report on the excavations at Cormac’s Chapel, Cashel, 1992 and 1993. Dunamase.html. Accessed 23-05-07. Holbrook, N. 2005. An early-medieval monastic cemetery at Llandough, Glamorgan: excavations in 1994. Medieval Archaeology 49, 1–92. Jones, M.O. 1999. Finger-rings, bracelets and latchets: towards a sociology of jewellery from later prehistoric and early historic Ireland to c. 800 AD. Unpublished MA thesis, National University of Ireland, Galway. Kelly, F. 1997. Early Irish farming. Dublin. Knüsel, C. 2000. Activity-related skeletal change. In A. Fiorato, C. Knüsel and A. Boylston (eds), Blood red roses: the archaeology of a mass grave from the Battle of

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Towton AD 1461, 103–18.Oxford. Lalonde, S. 2007. Preliminary report on the human skeletal remains from a cemetery and settlement at Carrowkeel, County Galway, on the route of the N6 Galway to Ballinasloe National Road Scheme. Unpublished report by Headland Archaeology Ltd for Galway County Council. Lewis, M. 2007. The bioarchaeology of children: perspectives from biological and forensic anthropology. Cambridge. Lewis, S. 1997. A simple procedure for investigating differences on sexual dimorphism between populations. In S. Anderson and K. Boyle (eds), Computing and statistics in osteoarchaeology, 35–8. Oxford. McCarthy, M. 2003. The faunal remains. In R. M. Cleary and M. F. Hurley (eds), Cork City excavations 1984–2000, 375–89. Cork. Mays, S. 1998. The archaeology of human bones. London. Mytum, H. 1992. The origins of Early Christian Ireland. London. O’Brien, E. 1984. Late prehistoric–early historic Ireland: the burial evidence reviewed. Unpublished MPhil. thesis, University College Dublin. O’Brien, E. 1999. Post-Roman Britain to Anglo Saxon England: burial practices reviewed. British Archaeological Reports, British Series 289. Oxford. Ossenberg, N.S. 1976. Within and between race distances in population studies based on discrete traits of the human skull. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 45, 701–16. O’Sullivan, A. and Harney, L. 2008. EMAP: investigating the character of early medieval archaeological excavations, 1970–2002. Unpublished report for the Heritage Council. O’Sullivan, J. 1994. Excavation of an early church and a women’s cemetery at St Ronan’s medieval parish church, Iona. Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland 124, 327–65. Parker Pearson, M. 1999. The archaeology of death and burial. Stroud.

Raftery, B. 1981. Iron Age burials in Ireland. In D. Ó Corráin (ed.), Irish antiquity, 173–204. Cork. Reimer, P.J., Baillie, M.G.L., Bard, E. et al. 2004. Intcal version 4.14. Radiocarbon 46, 1029–58. Scheuer, [J.]L. and Black, S. 2000. Developmental juvenile osteology. London. Scheuer, J.L., Musgrave, J.H. and Evans, S.P. 1980. The estimation of late fetal and perinatal age from limb bone length by linear and logarithmic regression. Annals of Human Biology 7, 257–65. Seaver, M. 2006. Through the mill—excavation of an early medieval settlement at Raystown, County Meath. In J. O’Sullivan and M. Stanley (eds), Settlement, industry and ritual, 73–88. Archaeology and the National Roads Authority Monograph Series 3. Dublin. Stout, M. 1997. The Irish ringfort. Dublin. Swan, L. 1983. Enclosed ecclesiastical sites and their relevance to settlement patterns of the first millennium A.D. In T. Reeves-Smyth and F. Hamond (eds), Landscape archaeology in Ireland, 269–80. British Archaeological Reports, British Series 116. Oxford. Tourunen, A. 2007. The faunal remains from Carrowkeel, Co. Galway. Unpublished report by Headland Archaeology Ltd for Galway County Council. Tyrrell, A. 2000. Skeletal non-metric traits and the assessment of inter- and intra-population diversity: past problems and future potential. In M. Cox and S. Mays (eds), Human osteology in archaeology and forensic science, 289–306. London. Ucko, P.J. 1969. Ethnography and the archaeological interpretation of funerary remains. World Archaeology 1, 262–90. White Marshall, J. and Walsh, C. 2005. Illaunloughan Island: an early medieval monastery in County Kerry. Bray.

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APPENDIX 1: SUMMARY OF FAUNAL REMAINS AULI TOURUNEN A total of 13,631 animal bone specimens were analysed from Carrowkeel (Table 6). Of these, 8,437 specimens were recovered by hand-picking and an additional 5,194 were found in soil samples. The high number of unidentified specimens reflects both the high fragmentation rate and the sieving of the soil samples. In both quantification methods used (NISP, Number of Identified Specimens, and MNE, Minimum Number of Elements), the assemblage is dominated by cattle. According to MNE figures, in enclosure phase 1 66.1% of the bones derive from cattle, 18.6% from sheep or goat and 15.3% from pig. Comparison of enclosure phase 2 was hampered by the presence of bones from the articulated skeletons, mixed with disarticulated remains. Specimens categorised as large ungulates, deriving mostly from ribs and vertebrae, are likely to derive from both cattle and horse, but most of these bones probably belong to cattle and they are included in cattle figures. Sheep is the next most common species. As goat is represented by only one specimen, it is probable that most of the specimens in the ‘sheep or goat’ category derive from sheep, as well as many of the specimens in the small ungulate category. Pig was the least common of the three main domesticates. As the site was intensively sampled, a large number of bird, small mammal and lizard bones were recovered. The hunting of wild animals did not play an important role in the economy, nor did fishing. Bones of domestic fowl, quail and possibly red grouse (or grey partridge, but the former species is more likely: the size of the bone matches better with red grouse) are likely to represent consumed birds. Bones of larger songbirds like thrushes may also indicate consumption, but they could derive from natural deaths too. Some passerine (perching bird, ‘songbird’) bones derive from such a small species that their consumption is unlikely. Variations observed in the species representation or in the anatomical representation within features and phases might be the result of changes in the deposition pattern inside the site or changes in the subsistence pattern. The higher number of small ungulates in the main enclosure ditch is likely to represent their increased importance compared to the earlier phase (Table 7). There seems to be a change in consumption pattern, as more young cattle are represented in the material during the later phase. Ditch 1260 contained the articulated skeletons of eleven sheep, which probably died in an accident or from disease. Two house mice mandibles were radiocarbon-dated to 1115 ± 35 uncal. BP, cal. AD 860–1020 (SUERC-

14057, GU-15327), and 1245 ± 45 uncal. BP, cal. AD 670–890 (SUERC-14234, GU-15326). This is the earliest dated house mouse from Ireland and categorically confirms the presence of the species in Ireland in the early medieval period.The history of the house mouse (Mus musculus) in Ireland is not yet fully understood. Mice bones, interpreted to be those of the house mouse, were recovered in thirteenth-century deposits in Cork with some rat bones (McCarthy 2003, 381). The house mouse had already arrived in Britain during the Iron Age (Buczacki 2002, 474). Some claim that it was introduced into Ireland during the Norman period (D’Arcy 2006, 8). According to Kelly (1997, 243), the early Irish written sources mention the house mouse as a significant vermin. There was some uncertainty about this before now, however, because the Irish word for mouse, luch, seems also to have been applied to rats (ibid., 244).
Table 6—Species representation (NISP) in material. Rabbit and rat are likely to be later intrusions. Specimens deriving from complete skeletons are in brackets.

Species Cattle Sheep Goat Sheep/goat Pig Horse Dog Cat Rabbit Rat Mouse Shrew Rodent Large ungulate Small ungulate Carnivore Small mammal Small animal Bird Fish Lizard Unidentified Total

NISP 846 49 (318) 1 432 196 31 58 (36) 4 (96) 8 1 188 46 3 728 425 6 19 192 172 29 22 9,725 13,631

Table 7—Proportion of cattle, sheep or goat and pig in features and areas (% NISP).

Phase Phase 1 Phase 2 (main enclosure ditch)

Cattle 84 69

Sh/g 8 17

Pig 8 14

N 270 336

An early medieval settlement/cemetery at Carrowkeel, Co. Galway 79

APPENDIX 2: SUMMARY OF ENVIRONMENTAL REPORT SUSAN LYONS Introduction A comprehensive sampling strategy was employed whereby a total of 158 bulk soil samples were taken, representing all significant fills and deposits. One hundred and forty-three of these soil samples were selected for the recovery of palaeobotanical remains and small finds, and the results are presented below. Methodology One hundred and forty-three soil samples were selected for the recovery of palaeobotanical remains and small finds. Each sample was subjected to a system of flotation in a Siraf-style flotation tank. The floating debris (flot) was collected in a 250µm sieve and, once dry, scanned using a binocular microscope. Any remaining material in the flotation tank (retent) was wet-sieved through a 1mm mesh and air-dried. This was then sorted by eye and any material of archaeological significance removed. An assessment of each sample was made to determine whether it would benefit from any more detailed analysis.

APPENDIX 3: THE METAL FINDS JULIE FRANKLIN Introduction There were eighteen metal finds, most of which were found in the enclosure ditch. Two finds came from grave fills, where they appear to be deliberate inclusions, and a handful more from the general graveyard soil and other features, possibly displaced from other graves or chance losses by visitors. The dating for the cemetery runs from c. 700 to c. 1450. It is assumed that the enclosure ditches were in use during the earliest cemetery and silted up over the course of the cemetery’s lifespan. Copper alloy Both these objects are from the enclosure ditch. The ring is extremely robust and in very good condition. Its size might suggest that it was intended as a toe-ring. There have been examples found in situ on the toe bones of skeletons (Jones 1999, 95). Spiral rings have a very long lifespan and wide distribution (ibid.; Clarke 1971). Examples are found all over Britain and Ireland and far further afield from as early as the Bronze Age through the Iron Age, Roman and early medieval periods. The earliest examples tend to be of gold, later ones of copper alloy. The fact that they are extremely simple to make and easily adjusted for any size of digit has ensured the survival of the type as other fashions have come and gone. It would seem to date from the earliest use of the cemetery, whether displaced from an early burial or a chance loss by a mourner. 1. Spiral finger-ring. Large heavy ring made from two revolutions of thick ovoid-sectioned plain rod, with rounded terminals. Diam. 26mm, internal diam. 18mm, thickness 3.5mm. SF2, context 1029, fill of enclosure ditch 1023 (Fig. 3). Strip. Rounded end with large rivet, broken at other end. Length 57mm, width 18mm. SF2, context 1030, fill of enclosure ditch 1023 (not illus.).

Two tables mentioned here but not supplied so ref deleted Results summary The soil samples assessed from Carrowkeel contained a OK?

mixed assemblage of archaeological and archaeobotanical material, reflecting the domestic material associated with occupational debris. The botanical remains were preserved by charring in all cases. All samples contained wood charcoal in low to high concentrations. A higher concentration of wood charcoal was recorded from samples associated with the excavation of ditch features, pit/linear features, postholes and deposits associated with skeletal remains. Barley, wheat and oats were all identified and are all crops collectively cultivated since the early medieval period. The grains, which were altogether recorded in small numbers, were randomly scattered across the site in ones and twos and were not associated with any conflagration deposits.This suggests that the material is the result of secondary, or even tertiary, deposition of crop-processing debris, which would have entered structural deposits and grave fills via local water channels, through wind and human activity, or during infilling of open features. The archaeological material recovered from Carrowkeel reflects the typical refuse associated with domestic activities, which has been discarded or dumped into open features around the site.


Iron Finds from the ditches Finds nos 5–7 are from the fill of the enclosure ditch, which is assumed to have silted up over the course of the cemetery’s use, while finds nos 3–4, both knives, are from another, probably earlier, ditch. Knife no. 6 appears to have been damaged by being used as a lever to prise something up or open. Another lost tool, no. 5, is an awl, used for piercing holes in leather (cf. Goodall 1993, 189, fig. 141:1478). This may originally have been buried in the grave of a craftsman, as a tool of his trade. Other finds are of less certain

80 Brendon Wilkins and Susan Lalonde

identification. No. 6 probably formed a decorative finial, such as are commonly found on candle prickets (cf. Egan 1998, 141). No. 7 may be part of the mouthpiece from a horse-bit (cf. Clark 1995, 49). 3. Knife. Complete pointed single-sided blade. Whittle tang, possibly broken at end. Overall length 148mm, length of blade 93mm, width of blade 21mm. SF1, context 1315, secondary fill of ditch 1317 (Fig. 3). Knife. Blade broken and bent at tip. Tang broken. Overall length 85mm, width of blade 14mm. SF1, context 1316, primary fill of ditch 1317. Awl. Double-pointed tool, tapering evenly from centre to a square-sectioned point, and on the other side to a round-sectioned blunted point. Length 112mm, max. width 10mm. SF4, context 1029, fill of enclosure ditch 1023. Curling finial. Short length of wrought iron rolled into tight curl. SF1, context 1076, fill of enclosure ditch 1023 (Fig. 3). Horse-bit? Length of iron, with remains of two broken loops at each end in perpendicular planes. Length 69mm. SF1, context 1029, fill of enclosure ditch 1023 (Fig. 3).


beneath legs, phase 1 (650–850), 14C 765–895 (Fig. 3). Pin? Long thin pointed shaft, curled into a loop at top. Length 66mm. SF1, context 1518, fill of grave, SK116, younger child (5–6yrs), undisturbed stonelined grave-cut, under left scapula, phase 3 (1050–1250), 14C 1037–1192 (Fig. 3).

OK? or 1315





Finds from graves Both the finds from graves are a little enigmatic. There is little to identify the use of no. 8, as there is no apparent means of attaching it to anything. It may have been part of a strap end. No. 9 may be a pin, for securing either clothing or a shroud. Ringed pins are a common find in early medieval Ireland, but are typically in copper alloy (Edwards 1990, 141).This may be a baser version of the same, in iron, possibly with an organic ring. 8. Strip with possible rivet at wide end, tapering to a rounded point at other. SF1, context 1437, fill of grave, SK100, younger child (18mths–2yrs),

Nails and coffin fittings There appear to be very few coffin nails in the assemblage and none at all from grave fills, suggesting that wooden coffins were a rarity at the cemetery. There were only seven nails from the site, spread through the graveyard soil, pits and other features. One is very large and is more likely to be part of some kind of structural work than from a coffin. Of the remainder, four are small, suitable for fixing down coffin lids, while two are larger and could have been used in the construction of coffin walls. Only one of the smaller examples (from pit fill 1468), however, has mineralised wood remains adhering to the shaft, a feature often found in coffin nails where the wood decays with the nails in situ. There are also two flat strip fragments, which may be part of corner brackets or other coffin fittings. One, from the graveyard soil (1098), appears to be decoratively shaped but is too fragmentary to be certain of its use or shape. Discussion The finds from the ditch seem to form a more varied and interesting collection than those from graves, including tools, fittings and the large finger-ring. Unfortunately, most are of little help in terms of dating. Even the ring is of a type current for such a long time that it cannot be taken as definitive dating evidence. There is little evidence of grave-goods. Two iron objects may be dress accessories, or may be coffin fittings or shroud-fastenings.

An early medieval settlement/cemetery at Carrowkeel, Co. Galway 81
Table 8—Iron finds from Carrowkeel.

Site 2.25 2.25

Ctxt 1024 1029

SF 001 004

Material Fe Fe

Qty 1 1

Description Plate fragment

Cn XR11

Box 2 2

2.25 2.25 2.25 2.25 2.25 2.25 2.25

1030 1098 1098 1098 1098 1217 1315

002 001 002 003 004 001 001

Cu Fe Fe Fe Fe Fe Fe

1 1 1 1 1 1 1

Awl. Double-pointed tool, tapering evenly XR11 from centre to a square-sectioned point, and on the other side to a round-sectioned blunted point. Length 112mm, max. width 10mm. Strip. Rounded end with large rivet, broken XR10 C07-0037 at other end. Length 57mm, width 18mm. Plate fragment Nail shaft XR11 XR11

2 2 2 2 2 2 2

Nail, complete, round shaft, small flat round XR11 head XR11 Fragments Nail shaft? Round-sectioned. Knife. Complete pointed single-sided blade. Whittle tang, possibly broken at end. Overall length 148mm, length of blade 93mm, width of blade 21mm. Knife. Blade broken and bent at tip. Tang broken. Overall length 85mm, width of blade 14mm. Pin/wire/nail shaft Nail, small, with wood adhering to shaft (coffin nail?) Nail, complete, clenched tip, small round head Horse-bit? Length of iron, with remains of two broken loops at each end in perpendicular planes. Length 69mm. Spiral finger-ring. Large heavy ring made from double spiral of thick ovoid-sectioned wire. Diam. 26mm, internal diam. 18mm, thickness 3.5mm. Curling finial. Short length of wrought iron rolled into tight curl (e.g. from pricket?). Strip with possible rivet at wide end, tapering to a rounded point at other. From beneath legs of SK100. Pin? Long thin pointed shaft, curled into a loop at top. Length 66mm. XR11 XR11 C07-0038






XR11 C07-0040 XR11 XR11 XR11 XR11 C07-0039 XR10 C07-0036


2.25 2.25 2.25 2.25

1324 1468 1493 1029

001 001 001 001

Fe Fe Fe Fe

1 1 1 1

2 2 2 3







2.25 2.25

1076 1437

001 001

Fe Fe

1 1

XR11 C07-0042 XR11 C07-0041 SK116. XR11 C07-0043

3 3







82 Brendon Wilkins and Susan Lalonde

APPPENDIX 4: NOTE ON OSTEOLOGICAL TERMS Age estimation is an assessment of biological rather than chronological age. It should be remembered that it is not a precise science, using age categories rather than exact age estimations. Younger adult: 18–25 years Younger middle adult: 25–35 years Older middle adult: 35–45 years Older adult: 45+ years The age estimation of non-adults is easier, as the growth and maturation of the skeleton has been widely studied. There are several systems used in the categorisation of non-adult remains. In this case they were placed into one of seven age categories, as used by skeletal biologists and clinicians (Scheuer and Black 2000). Foetus: 3rd foetal month until birth Perinate: around the time of birth Neonate: birth–2 months Infant: birth–1 year Younger child: 1–6 years Older child: 7–12 years Adolescent: 13–17 years

An early medieval settlement/cemetery at Carrowkeel, Co. Galway 83

APPENDIX 5: RADIOCARBON DATES Notes 1. All of the sample material from Carrowkeel is unburnt human bone from inhumation burials, apart from two samples of mouse bone recovered from the primary deposit of the main enclosure ditch (1023).
Table 9—Radiocarbon dates.

2. The calibration programme for dates from Carrowkeel is that of Reimer et al. (2004).

Lab code Site UB-7410 Carrowkeel UB-7411 Carrowkeel UB-7412 Carrowkeel UB-7413 Carrowkeel UB-7414 Carrowkeel UB-7416 Carrowkeel UB-7417 Carrowkeel UB-7418 Carrowkeel UB-7419 Carrowkeel UB-7420 Carrowkeel UB-7422 Carrowkeel UB-7423 Carrowkeel UB-7424 Carrowkeel UB-7425 Carrowkeel UB-7426 Carrowkeel UB-7427 Carrowkeel UB-7428 Carrowkeel UB-7429 Carrowkeel UB-7430 Carrowkeel UB-7431 Carrowkeel UB-7432 Carrowkeel UB-7433 Carrowkeel UB-7434 Carrowkeel UB-7435 Carrowkeel UB-7436 Carrowkeel UB-7437 Carrowkeel UB-7438 Carrowkeel UB-7439 Carrowkeel UB-7440 Carrowkeel UB-7441 Carrowkeel UB-7442 Carrowkeel UB-7443 Carrowkeel UB-7444 Carrowkeel UB-7445 Carrowkeel UB-7446 Carrowkeel UB-7447 Carrowkeel UB-7448 Carrowkeel UB-7449 Carrowkeel UB-7482 Carrowkeel UB-7483 Carrowkeel SUERC-14057 (GU-15326) Carrowkeel SUERC-14057 (GU-15327) Carrowkeel

Sample Foetus Child Adult Foetus Child Infant Adult Infant Foetus Adult Foetus Adult Child Adolescent Infant Adult Adult Child Child Child Child Adult Infant Child Adult Infant Adult Child Adult Adult Child Adult Child Adult Infant Foetus Human bone Human bone Human bone Human bone

Yrs BP 499 ± 29 1129 ± 31 1186 ± 32 1148 ± 31 1156 ± 31 1125 ± 31 1228 ± 31 1214 ± 31 638 ± 30 1264 ± 31 815 ± 31 1244 ± 32 1182 ± 32 1250 ± 34 830 ± 31 940 ± 31 906 ± 31 1104 ± 31 1185 ± 31 1193 ± 34 1261 ± 33 954 ± 31 1215 ± 32 1203 ± 32 1193 ± 31 949 ± 32 935 ± 31 1168 ± 32 1301 ± 31 1182 ± 31 907 ± 30 1305 ± 34 1113 ± 32 1196 ± 35 1223 ± 33 1193 ± 33 1249 ± 31 1113 ± 32 1127 ± 1432 1227 ± 31

Calibrated date range One sigma AD 1415–1436 Two sigma AD 1400–1477 One sigma AD 888–970 Two sigma AD 782–989 One sigma AD 781–885 Two sigma AD 721–960 One sigma AD 785–968 Two sigma AD 780–975 One sigma AD 783–960 Two sigma AD 779–971 One sigma AD 890–970 Two sigma AD 783–991 One sigma AD 717–865 Two sigma AD 689–884 One sigma AD 774–871 Two sigma AD 693–890 One sigma AD 1293–1388 Two sigma AD 1284–1396 One sigma AD 689–773 Two sigma AD 667–861 One sigma AD 1211–1261 Two sigma AD 1169–1269 One sigma AD 688–808 Two sigma AD 682–872 One sigma AD 781–887 Two sigma AD 726–964 One sigma AD 687–802 Two sigma AD 676–870 One sigma AD 1186–1254 Two sigma AD 1159–1265 One sigma AD 1034–1153 Two sigma AD 1024–1161 One sigma AD 1045–1170 Two sigma AD 1038–1208 One sigma AD 896–981 Two sigma AD 885–1013 One sigma AD 781–886 Two sigma AD 723–951 One sigma AD 779–881 Two sigma AD 710–949 One sigma AD 688–775 Two sigma AD 668–864 One sigma AD 1026–1151 Two sigma AD 1022–1156 One sigma AD 773–873 Two sigma AD 692–890 One sigma AD 778–870 Two sigma AD 694–936 One sigma AD 780–880 Two sigma AD 716–943 One sigma AD 1028–1152 Two sigma AD 1023–1158 One sigma AD 1039–1153 Two sigma AD 1024–1165 One sigma AD 781–934 Two sigma AD 775–968 One sigma AD 667–766 Two sigma AD 660–772 One sigma AD 781–887 Two sigma AD 728–962 One sigma AD 1045–1168 Two sigma AD 1037–1207 One sigma AD 665–766 Two sigma AD 658–773 One sigma AD 894–974 Two sigma AD 832–1015 One sigma AD 779–880 Two sigma AD 694–946 One sigma AD 723–869 Two sigma AD 689–887 One sigma AD 780–881 Two sigma AD 712–947 One sigma AD 688–801 Two sigma AD 678–869 One sigma AD 894–974 Two sigma AD 832–1015 One sigma AD 889–971 Two sigma AD 782–991 One sigma AD 718–866 Two sigma AD 689–884 One sigma AD 680–820 Two sigma AD 670–890 One sigma AD 890–850 Two sigma AD 860–1020

Mouse bone 1245 ± 45 Mouse bone 1115 ± 35