| 6 September 2010
Mysterious Bronze Age oak road discovered in Ireland
Irish archaeologists are puzzled as to the exact purpose of an ancient oak road unearthed on a bog managed by Bord na Móna (a company responsible for the mechanised harvesting of peat) in Co Tipperary.
Operations manager and site director with Archaeological Development Services (ADS) Jane Whitaker believes the track, which runs parallel to a modern road, may have formed part of an ancient road network. The road, discovered by ADS during a walking survey, is constructed from oak planks laid across oak beams and gravel. Mortise holes have been bored into the planks to facilitate wooden pegs. All of the materials were brought to the site from other locations. Using dendrochronology, the archaeologists have dated wood from the road to 986 BCE. The Bronze Age structure measures 300 metres long and four metres wide.
Construction of the road would have involved "a substantial amount of wood, organisation, tree-felling, hard labour and graft", said Ms Whitaker. "The reason for that is unknown but most likely just to cross the bog - it's a causeway." A number of other finds have been made at the site of the road on the Longford Pass Bog in Co Tipperary in the past, she revealed. "Historically there have been quite a few finds, mainly in the early days of Bord na Móna hand-cutting. There is actually quite a large number of Bronze Age finds, similar enough in date to this site which would have been daggers and swords." Mystery still remains as to the exact purpose of the road. Although the track is large enough to take wheeled vehicles, archaeologists have found no evidence of hoof prints or wheel ruts. "Interestingly, in this particular site, we have, in two of the cuttings, an upright timber with a hole in it along the northern end of the site, purpose and function as yet unknown."
"One hypothesis we are testing is that trackways were built as a response to climate change. That is something that is still ongoing - we have got some evidence for it at some sites but not all sites," Environmental archaeologist Dan Young said. Bord na Móna project archaeologist Charles Mount expects more artefacts to be discovered at the Longford Pass site.
Source: Irish Times (2 September 2010)
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