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11 June 2006
Dig reveals ancient sites in Ireland

Ancient Irish people were living in the Ashbourne and Finglas area (Co. Meath) up to 5,000 years ago, excavations carried out in preparation for the new M2 motorway and Ashbourne bypass revealed. Archaeological investigations in advance of the scheme revealed over 20 new archaeological sites interspersed along the route. All the sites were fully excavated in advance of road construction during 2004 and 2005 by Cultural Resource Development Services Ltd (CRDS) on behalf of Meath County Council and the NRA.
     The date range of the site indicates that there was intermittent human activity in the Finglas-Ashbourne area during at least the past 5,000 years. One of the earliest sites uncovered was a Neolithic (3200-2800 BCE) henge enclosure at Kilshane, near Finglas. A unique feature of the site was the discovery of the remains of 40-50 young cattle in the base of the enclosing ditch, possibly a community animal sacrifice at the site.
     At the townland of Harlockstown, an important complex of features was discovered including an Early Bronze Age (2500-1900 BCE) circular burial enclosure. Within the enclosure was a cremation burial as well as the burials of a woman and a man placed in stone-lined graves and accompanied by decorated pots. A square enclosure on the site was of a slightly later Iron Age date and was used for metal working.
     At Rath, north of Ashbourne, an extensive Bronze Age/Iron Age complex of features was revealed with evidence of settlement, industrial and funerary or ritual activities. A burial at the site of a woman wearing three copper-alloy toe rings is unique in Ireland and may suggest a cultural connection with high status Iron Age communities in Britain.
     Excavation at Cookstown at the northern end of the scheme revealed a site which had been used since prehistoric times.

Source: The Meath Chronicle (10 June 2006)

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