Now showing 1 - 3 of 3
  • Publication
    House of the living, house of the dead: an open and shut case from Ballyglass, Co. Mayo?
    (Oxbow Books, 2020)
    The Early Neolithic court tomb at Ballyglass is the larger of two such monuments (Ma. 13 and Ma. 14 in the national inventory of megalithic monuments) in Ballyglass townland and one of a group of 30 court tombs forming a dense concentration on the carboniferous sandstones around Bunatrahir Bay in north Mayo. The tomb is situated on level ground at the western edge of a narrow area of lowlands between the sea and higher peat-covered ridges to the southwest, with the Ballinglen and Bellananaminnaun rivers lying 500 m to the east and west, respectively (Figure 1). Ballyglass Ma. 13 seems to have been first noted in the early 19th century by cartographer William Bald. In a letter postmarked 'Castlebar 1825' to a Miss Clendening in Dublin, Bald provided a simple sketch of the monument, describing it as "a druidical place of worship having two cromlechs" (Hayes 1965, 110). The dual gallery and central court features of Ballyglass Ma. 13 were subsequently confirmed in the modern megalithic surveys of the mid-20th century onwards (de Valera 1951; 1960, 94 and Plate VI: de Valera and Ó Nualláin 1964). These surveys recorded a northwest-southeast orientation and a large elliptical central court measuring 11.50 m (north-west to south-east) x 7.25 m (north-east to south-west) with a lateral entrance to the north-east and two segmented galleries running off the court in opposite directions (Figure 2). The sandstone and granite orthostatic structure had survived almost entirely intact, along with a number of corbels and a single sandstone lintel in position above the galleries. Two large sandstone slabs lying at either end of the court were interpreted as displaced gallery capstones.
  • Publication
    Four millennia of dairy surplus and deposition revealed through compound-specific stable isotope analysis and radiocarbon dating of Irish bog butters
    Bog butters are large white or yellow waxy deposits regularly discovered within the peat bogs of Ireland and Scotland. They represent an extraordinary survival of prehistoric and later agricultural products, comprising the largest deposits of fat found anywhere in nature. Often found in wooden containers or wrapped in animal bladders, they are considered to have been buried intentionally by past farming communities. While previous analysis has determined that Irish bog butters derive from animal fat, their precise characterisation could not be achieved due to diagenetic compositional alterations during burial. Via compound‐specific stable isotope analysis, we provide the first conclusive evidence of a dairy fat origin for the Irish bog butter tradition, which differs from bog butter traditions observed elsewhere. Our research also reveals a remarkably long‐lived tradition of deposition and possible curation spanning at least 3500 years, from the Early Bronze Age (c. 1700 BC) to the 17th century AD. This is conclusively established via an extensive suite of both bulk and compound‐specific radiocarbon dates.
  • Publication
    Exploring the ‘somewhere’ and ‘someone’ else: an integrated approach to Ireland’s earliest farming practice
    One of the great successes of Childe’s concept of the Neolithic Revolution was the emphasis it placed on the new – on a ‘package’ of related innovations in subsistence, technology and social relations as a rupture, a break, a new beginning. This is especially important given long-standing characterisations of hunting and gathering groups as unchanging over time and without historical agency or dynamism (Sassaman and Holly, 2011). Since Childe, the Neolithic revolution has been substantially unpacked, and in areas of primary domestication, we recognise that the process was long, variable and multi-faceted (e.g. Finlayson, 2013; Larsen et al., 2014).