A day-by-day account of the activities of the Rossnaree Archaeological Project 2010-11

Archive for July 13, 2010

Day 7: ‘Now you’re sucking diesel’

Rossnaree excavation

Darren digs the top of the Trench 1 ditch

The weatherman had warned of rain spreading into Munster and south Leinster by midday spreading to all areas over the afternoon so we were apprehensive about when this weather would actually arrive. The day was not as bright and as sunny but was still dry. The big news for the day was that we were joined by reinforcements in the form of Deirdre, a veteran of many previous excavations including Graeme Warren’s dig at Belderrig and Geraldine and Matt Stout’s dig at Site M, Knowth. A valuable addition to our small team.

Work focused on two areas today: Deirdre and Eamonn under Kieran’s supervision began to work down through the topsoil/cultivation soil in Trench 4, the site of the geophysical survey work on Saturday. Ultimately, the excavation of this trench will be a test of the accuracy of the various techniques we used during that survey.
The other area of activity was in Trench 1, continuing the explorations started yesterday tracing the extent of the ditch of the outer enclosure. Work went very well and by lunchtime, Matt had found the bottom of the ditch and by the end of the day he had found the sides of it as well, at least on one side.

Rossnaree Excavation

Matt digs the base of the Trench 1 ditch

The ditch turned out to be around 90cm deep, pretty much the depth indicated in the ERT section carried out over this area some time before. This is a very good result for us excavating the site, but also for Kevin, who has hard evidence to show how well the equipment works.

As if that wasn’t enough, out of the very base of the ditch, at 4.40pm, almost when the day was done and it was time to pack up to go home, Matt made another discovery. At the very base of the ditch, he uncovered an intact cow’s mandible. You may wonder why you should be excited about this. Granted, it is not the most exciting find and you’re highly unlikely to find one of these in any museum display. The main value of this find is that it can be scientifically dated using radiocarbon dating and an independent scientific date for the site can be established. It was in the perfect location for establishing an accurate date; right at the bottom of the ditch. This means that the bone must have made its way into the ditch very soon after the ditch was dug, presumably while the site was in use. If the bone was further up in the fill of the ditch, it could have made its way into the ditch some time later and thus would not be a reliable indicator of the earliest use of the site.

Rossnaree excavation

Matt displays his cow's mandible (lower jaw).

Furthermore, it seems that the bone may have been deliberately placed at the base of the ditch because it was found in a small ‘slot’ feature right at the base. This would further connect the bone to the initial digging of the ditch and the earliest use of the site.

Rossnaree excavation

The mandible.

It seems inevitable that there will be some rain over the next couple of days. Hopefully not too much!