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Archaeo News 

30 November 2008
Iron Age pottery and flint tools unearthed in Ireland

Archeologists digging at the site of a medieval castle in Co Roscommon (Ireland) found a treasure trove of Iron Age pottery and flint tools that are at least 3,000 years old. Not what you expect when you are investigating the foundations of a 16th-century building - but not that surprising given that the site is a stone's throw from Rathcroghan, reputed to be the burial ground and inauguration site of the ancient kings of Connacht.
     At first glance Cruachan Aí Heritage Centre, in Tulsk village, looks no more than an inviting coffee shop on the banks of the picturesque Ogulla river. But it was the home of the legendary warrior Queen Medbh, one of the most important Celtic royal sites in Europe and the seat of the O'Conor chieftains. Asked to put Rathcroghan in context by comparing it with Tara, the aptly named administrator, Mike Croghan, replies simply: "Older and bigger."
     The central focus of the interpretative centre, Rathcroghan Mound, is a ceremonial structure associated with pre-Christian ritual. Most of the important sites in the complex date from the late Bronze Age and the Iron Age. When a team of archeologists touched down in Tulsk a few years ago as part of the State-funded Discovery Programme, they were there to learn more about the Gaelic lords who ruled the roost in rural Ireland in medieval times. It was a happy coincidence that they were digging a stone's throw from Oweynagat and three kilometres from Rathcroghan, the ceremonial site that is believed to contain a passage tomb, and Rathnadarve, or Ráth na dTarbh. History, of course, is an ongoing story, and the archeologists have found everything from Stone Age axe heads to Elizabethan coins on the site of the medieval tower house they unearthed beneath a mound where cattle graze for most of the year.
     Dr Niall Brady, who led the dig, said that the most recent finds add a prehistoric dimension to the project. He believes the pottery, tools and burnt bones will be determined as Iron Age.

Source: The Irish Times (22 November 2008)

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