Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Planned Bronze Age village found in Co Londonderry

A remarkable Bronze Age village with main street, side lanes and houses in two orderly rows has been found in Co Londonderry. The site is without parallel in Ireland, and transforms archaeologists' ideas about the prehistory of Irish settlement.

Archaeology Excavations
have only recently begun at Corrsdown near Portrush, but finds so far include a wide, metalled village street with 29 roundhouse plots in neat rows on either side, almost all of them contemporary with one another. Many of the houses are linked to the street by short lengths of metalled or flagstone pathway, like little garden paths. Early signs are that the village also contained cobbled side-streets.

According to site director Malachy Conway of Archaeological Consultancy Services, Bronze Age settlements in Ireland were thought to be limited to isolated farmsteads or tiny clusters of buildings. Small nucleated prehistoric settlements with a handful of houses have been found at Thornhill in Co Londonderry and at Chancellorsland in Co Tipperary - but nothing was known on the scale of the new site or with such an orderly layout of buildings.

The roundhouses, ranging from about 6 metres to 12 metres across, survive as low stone walls with post-holes on the inside and internal partitions. The larger houses, with outside drainage gullies and more elaborate entrances, seem to be at the centre of the village.

The site - which is being developed as a housing estate - has produced a mass of pottery, stone tools and other finds. Most spectacular was a large stone macehead lying on the floor of one of the houses. Also found was an unbroken half of a two-part mould for a middle Bronze Age palstave, or flanged axe. One complete pot was found buried upright in the entrance of one of the houses.

Only four houses have been excavated so far. As the dig continues through the spring, archaeologists will hope to shed more light on the uses of different buildings, and to make sense of the complex of postholes, rubbish pits and other features around the site, some of which may be early Christian in date. They will also be looking for burials, and for metal artefacts which have so far proved thin on the ground.

Source from : http://www.britarch.ac.uk

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