Ringfort

Updated: July 2008

The cork County Council Fire Service Headquarters is to be built near the site of the ringfort. Designs for the new building are close to being agreed upon. It is expected that the planning application will be made in 2009. It is hoped that the building will blend the old and the new: the archaeological monument and the eco-friendly building which is to be a landmark building promoting Ireland’s heritage.
[updated 2010]
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This page refers to the excavation of the ringfort adjacent to the Ballincollig Firestation on the Link Road to the east of the village. It was partially excavated in the summer of 2006, under the auspices of Cork County Council. The reports below were compiled by the County Archaeologist. The excavation was backfilled to prevent it being disturbed afterwards. The results of carbon dating are included. Headquarters for the Cork Fire Brigade are due to be constructed on the site and the design is apparently going to be in keeping with the heritage aspects of the site.[updated March 2010]

July 2007 -Radiocarbon Dating Results for Enclosure on Link Road, Ballincollig

A result from a pit (C62) within the enclosure came back giving it a mid 7th Century AD date.
The souterrain (C63) came back giving an early 7th Century AD date.
The kiln (C76) gave date a mid 7th Century date.
The date from the circular house, which at excavation was found to pre-date the kiln, came back giving an early to mid 9th
Century AD date.

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EXCAVATION: MAY TO JULY 2006
Report on July 25th 2006

Daniel Noonan Archaeological Consultancy has carried out a limited excavation of the truncated enclosure (ringfort) (MONUMENT NUMBER CO073-082), at Carrigrohane, Ballincollig, Co. Cork, for eight weeks, from May to July 2006. The excavation has been carried out under State Granted Excavation Licence 06E0262. The purpose of the excavation is to archaeologically resolve a sufficient area of the enclosure site to allow for the construction of a new Headquarters for the Fire Service of Cork County Council. an unprecedented amount of archaeology was uncovered.

An area traversing the approximate eastern one third of the enclosure was opened for excavation. The inner and outer fosses/ditches of the enclosure were exposed and excavated. the fosses are about 2m in depth, 4m in width, and were backfilled in two sessions, perhaps at the time That the settlers left the ringfort or when they were ousted by another clan. IT IS ALSO KNOWN FROM AN EXCAVATED RINGFORT IN NORTH CORK THAT THE SETTLERS IN THE RINGFORT MAY HAVE BACKFILLED THE DITCHES, PERHAPS WHEN A TIME OF PEACE HAD ARRIVED. The settlement may then have extended beyond the outer fosse. The interior exposed in the topsoil stripped area is sparse in archaeological features.

An area of modern plough furrows was uncovered outside the NE quadrant of the enclosing ditches and appeared to truncate an earlier slot trench construction structure (PROBABLY A HOUSE) that curved to form a definite CIRCULAR shape. this was associated with post holes and stake holes and probably represented a SETTLEMENT prior to the TIME OF THE CORN DRYING KILN SITUATED OUTSIDE the ringfort. IT MAY HAVE BEEN CONTEMPORARY WITH THE RINGFORT OR IT MAY PRE DATED IT. The charcoal found on the site should give radiocarbon dates to determine this. The CORN DRYING KILN CUT THROUGH THIS STRUCTURE. There are several scorched areas nearby, but as they have been truncated by ploughing. It was not possible to determine their origin. A RECTANGULAR STRUCTURE WAS ALSO EVIDENT; THIS IN TURN WAS LATER, AND CUT INTO THE CIRCULAR HOUSE. This part of the site so far represented the most extensive area of archaeological activity on the site and the longest sequences of stratigraphy. It is also rare to find so much archaeology outside a ringfort. At the SE end of the enclosure a break in the ditches, forming a space approximately 4 m wide, appeared to have been the entrance to the enclosure. this would have been closed off by a wooden or wicker-type door.

An area to the SW of the enclosure, outside the line of the outer fosse, was tested. during the final week an underground passage was exposed. This passage was disturbed by the construction workers of the modern Link Road, which connects the Main Street into Ballincollig with the Ballincollig-Killumney Road, parallel to it. The passage may also have been disturbed prior to this, perhaps during ploughing or when it was used for another purpose. THE PASSAGE WAS MADE OF LIMESTONE AND SMALL AMOUNTS OF GREEN SANDSTONES AND HAD NO OBVIOUS CHAMBER. a CHAMBER (OR SEVERAL, UP TO FOUR) IS TYPICAL OF THE TYPE OF SOUTERRAIN (AN UNDERGROUND REFUGE PROBABLY FOR WOMEN AND CHILDREN, DUE TO THE NARROW SIZE OF CREEPWAYS, OR PASSAGES) WHICH IS MORE COMMONLY SEEN. THE PASSAGE WAS ABOUT FOUR METRES IN LENGTH AND VARIED IN WIDTH FROM .80CM TO 1.10M. IT HAD WALLS WHICH WERE SLIGHTLY BOWED IN ORDER TO SUPPORT THE ROOF which WAS MADE IN A CORBEL STYLE. THE PASSAGE HAD SOME ATTEMPT AT INDIVIDUALITY, WITH THE PRESENCE OF SMALL UPRIGHT LIMESTONES AT THE ENTRANCE. THE STRUCTURE ITSELF IS NOT VERY STURDY BUT THIS COULD BE DUE TO LATER DISTURBABNCE RATHER THAN POOR WORKMANSHIP, OR ACCESS TO LIMITED MATERIALS.. THIS PASSAGE MAY WELL BE A LOCAL TYPE OF SOUTERRAIN, which HAD NO DISTINGUISHING refuge chamber. ARCHAEOLOGISTS VISITING THE SITE HAVE RECORDED A SAMLL NUMBER OF SIMILAR SOUTERRAINS IN CORK CITY SUBURBS AND IN THE AREA IMMEDIATELY NORTH OF MIDLRTON. THIS SOUTERRAIN LIES OUTSIDE THE RINGFORT (near the link road) AND ALSO IN WHAT WAS AT THE OTHER SIDE OF A FIELD BOUNDARY FROM THE ENCLOUSE/RINGFORT (REPRESENTED BY THE METALLING OF THE OLD ROAD FROM BALLINCOLLIG TO THE KILLUMNEY ROAD). THIS SOUTERRAIN MAY INDICATE THE PRESENCE OF A SECOND RINGFORT, PERHAPS CONJOINED TO THE RINGFORT WHERE EXCAVATION TOOK PLACE. AERIAL PHOTOGRAPHS OF THE SITE AND SURROUNDING AREA INDICATES THE PRESENCE OF OTHER HITHERTO UNKNOWN ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITES; ALL OF THESE ARE CIRCULAR IN SHAPE.

Though the ENCLOSURE site is sparse in Finds, they include animal bone (including part of a horse), cremated bone fragments, pottery, a hone stone, a tuyere, burnt wood, possible seeds and fragments of metal objects.

FOLLOWING ANALYSIS OF THE FINDINGS, SOIL SAMPLES, CHARCOAL ETC, the final REPORT BY THE EXCAVATOR, DAN NOONAN, WILL give more clues to this prehistoric/early historic settlement, and its agricultural and/OR pastoral community.

THE REMAINDER OF THE ENCLOSURE/RINGFORT LIES ON THE SITE AND WILL BE MAINTAINED AS A MONUMENT. THE FIRE DEPARTMENT HAS INDICATED THAT ACCESS TO THE MONUMENT WILL BE MADE AVAILABLE FOR ARCHAEOLOGICAL PRUPOSES FOR THE FUTURE. CONSEQUENTLY DURING THE FORTHCOMING WINTER IT IS HOPED TO BRING TOGETHER A NUMBER OF INTERESTED GROUPS, AMONG WHOM INCLUDE CORK COUNTY COUNCIL AND THE BALLINCOLLIG HERITAGE ASSOCIATION, TO FORM A PARTNERSHIP TO USE THE SITE FOR FUTURE ARCHAEOLOGICAL PROJECTS. THESE PROJECTS WILL BE FOR THE ENJOYMENT BY THE PUBLIC AS WELL AS STUDENTS OF ARCHAEOLOGY. ONE IDEA IS THE INITIATION OF A SUMMER SCHOOL WHERE ANYONE CAN BE AN ARCHAEOLOGIST. HE AIM WILL BE TO PROMOTE ARCHAEOLOGY AS A SUBJECT WHICH IS ACCESSIBLE TO ALL AND TO DEMONSTRATE THE RICH ARCHAEOLOGICAL HERITAGE WHICH ABOUNDS IN BALLINCOLLIG, BOTH ABOVE AND BELOW THE GROUND.

CATRYN POWER
COUNTY ARCHAEOLOGIST
CORK COUNTY COUNCIL

Exciting developments – 10th July 2006 The archaeologists think they may have discovered a burial chamber dating back to the Neolithic period. The stone sided so called “souterrain” (see photos below) may be similar to the Co. Waterford burial chambers and be far older than was at first thought.


The excavation of the Carrigrohane Ringfort concluded on Friday 30th June 2006. During the excavation, visitors to the site, had a chance to see the work in progress and were given the unique opportunity of having a detailed and informative guided tour, by the County Archaeologist, Catryn Power.


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Start of excavation of SouterrainEnclosure (ringfort) MONUMENT NUMBER CO073-082), at Carrigrohane, Ballincollig, Co. Cork

AN UPDATE ON THE archaeological EXCAVATION 24th JUNE 2006

Daniel Noonan Archaeological Consultancy is carrying out a limited excavation of the truncated enclosure (ringfort) (MONUMENT NUMBER CO073-082), at Carrigrohane, Ballincollig, Co. Cork, for the past 5 weeks. The excavation has been carried out under State Granted Excavation Licence 06E0262. The purpose of the excavation is to archaeologically resolve a sufficient area of the enclosure site to allow for the construction of a new Headquarters for the Fire Service of Cork County Council.. the excavation was to end on the 23rd June, but cork county council have granted funds for another week to resolve the unprecedented amount of archaeology found.An area traversing the approximate eastern one third of the enclosure has been opened for excavation. The inner and outer fosses/ditches of the enclosure are exposed and are now excavated. the fosses are about 2m in depth, 4m in width, and were backfilled in two sessions, perhaps at the time That the settlers left the ringfort or when they were ousted by another clan. IT IS ALSO KNOWN FROM AN EXCAVATED RINGFORT IN NORTH CORK THAT THE SETTLERS IN THE RINGFORT MAY HAVE BACKFILLED THE DITCHES, PERHAPS WHEN A TIME OF PEACE HAD ARRIVED. the settlement may then have extended beyond the outer fosse. the interior exposed in the topsoil stripped area is sparse in archaeological features.An area of modern plough furrows have been uncovered outside the NE quadrant of the enclosing ditches and appear to truncate an earlier slot trench construction structure (PROBABLY A HOUSE) that curves to form a definite CIRCULAR shape. this is associated with post holes and stake holes and PROBABLY represents a SETTLEMENT prior to the TIME OF THE CORN DRYING KILN SITUATED OUTSIDE the ringfort. IT MAY BE CONTEMPORARY WITH THE RINGFORT OR IT MAY PRE DATE IT. the charcoal found on the site should give radiocarbon dates to determine this. the CORN DRYING KILN CUTS THROUGH THIS STRUCTURE. there are several scorched areas nearby, but as they have been truncated by ploughing, at the moment it is not possible to determine their origin. This part of the site so far represents the most extensive area of archaeological activity on the site and the longest sequences of stratigraphy. it is also rare to find so much archaeology outside a ringfort. At the SE end of the enclosure a break in the ditches, forming a space approximately 4 m wide, appears to have been the entrance to the enclosure. this would have been closde off by a wooden or wicker-type door.An area to the SW of the enclosure, outside the line of the outer fosse, was tested. No significant archaeological findings were uncovered in this area. during the final week a possible souterrain (underground refuge chamber(s)), will be investigated. however it has been damaged in the past, perhaps by ploughing, and at that time backfilled. THIS SOUTERRAIN LIES OUTSIDE THE RINGFORT (near the link road) AND ALSO IN WHAT MAY HAVE BEEN AT THE OTHER SIDE OF A FIELD BOUNDARY FROM THE RINGFORT (REPRESENTED BY THE METALLING OF THE OLD ROAD FROM BALLINCOLLIG TO THE KILLUMNEY ROAD). THIS SOUTERRAIN MAY INDICATE THE PRESENCE OF A SECOND RINGFORT, PERHAPS CONJOINED TO THE RINGFORT WHICH IS BEING EXCAVATED.Though the site is sparse in Finds, they include animal bone (including part of a horse), cremated bone fragments, pottery, a hone stone, a tuyere, burnt wood, possible seeds and frgaments of metal objects.The final week should give more clues to this prehistoric/early historic settlement, and its agricultural and pastoral community. an extra and final tour is taking place at 12 midday tuesday 27th. another one may be planned during the week.

CATRYN POWER
COUNTY ARCHAEOLOGIST
CORK COUNTY COUNCIL

24th JUNE 2006


Report – Week 4 – 1st. June 2006

THE EXCAVATION IS NOW INTO ITS FOURTH OF SIX WEEKS. ONE-THIRD OF THE 60M IN DIAMETER TRUNCATED (PLOUGHED OUT) ENCLOSURE/RINGFORT IS NOW EXPOSED BY THE ARCHAEOLOGICAL TEAM. TWO FOSSES OR DITCHES HAVE BEEN EXPOSED, AND SECTIONS OF THESE DITCHES ARE NOW BEING DUG; A SECTION OF ONE DITCH REVEALED A DEPTH OF 1M, POSSIBLY DELIBERATELY FILLED IN. THE REMAINS OF A CIRCULAR STRUCTURE IS EVIDENT OUTSIDE THE DITCHES; IT IS HOPED THAT THE DATE AND PURPOSE OF THIS BUILDING WILL BE REVEALED DURING THE NEXT TWO/THREE WEEKS. ONE LARGE POST HOLE HAS BEEN EXCAVATED.A LARGE PIT CONTAINING BURNT WOOD AND UNBURNT ANIMAL BONE IS CURRENTLY BEING EXCAVATED; THE CHARRED WOOD WILL PROVIDE A RADIOCARBON (c14) DATE FOR THE FILL IN PIT, AND THE TYPE OF TREE FROM WHICH THE CHARRED WOOD WAS DERIVED WILL BE DETERMINED BY A SPECIALIST IN WOOD(DENDROLOGIST); THE LATTER WILL ALSO PROVIDE DATA ON THE TREE COVER DURING THIS PERIOD.FINDS ARE NOT YET PLENTIFUL, AND INCLUDE SOME NINETEENTH CENTURY GLASS, AND A HONE STONE (THE LATTER FOR SHARPENING). THE SOIL IS ACIDIC SO BONE WILL NOT SURVIVE EASILY. NEVERTHELESS MORE EARLY MEDIEVAL POTTERY MAY BE UNCOVERED IN THE ARCHAEOLOGICAL DEPOSITS SUCH AS THE PITS AND DITCHES; THIS TYPE OF POTTERY WAS FOUND IN THE TEST TRENCH THAT WAS EXCAVATED A FEW YEARS BACK, IN PREPARATION FOR THE CURRENT PROJECT. THE POTTERY MAY BE LOCALLY PRODUCED; HOWEVER FURTHER ANALYSIS IS REQUIRED PRIOR TO THIS BEING CONFIRMED.
CATRYN POWER
COUNTY ARCHAEOLOGIST


Report – Week 1 – 14th May 2006

THE FOLLOWING IS UPDATE ON THE ARCHAEOLOGICAL EXCAVATION, AFTER ONE WEEK ON SITE: THE SITE HAS BEEN FENCED OFF TO MAKE IT SAFE AND SECURE. SHRUBBERY AND OVERBURDEN WERE REMOVED BY HEAVY MACHINERY. SOME TREES WERE REMOVED AND PLANTED ELSEWHERE. A SMALL NUMBER ARE STILL ON SITE AND SOME WILL BE RETAINED. THE BLADE OF A LARGE DIGGER HAS CLEANED THE TOP SURFACE OF THE SITE. THIS HAS ALREADY EXPOSED WHAT ARCHAEOLOGIST CALL ‘FEATURES’, THE THREE-DIMENSIONAL FORMS OF PAST STRUCTURES. TWO LARGE FEATURES CAN BE DISCERNED AS WELL AS NUMEROUS SMALLER ONES. THE TWO LARGE FEARTURES ARE THE TRUNCATED REMAINS OF TWO FOSSES OR DITCHES WHICH CONTAIN BACKFILLED OR SILTED MATERIAL. IT WILL BE INTERESTING TO DETERMINE IF THESE CONTAIN ARTEFACTS (POTTERY, ANIMAL REMAINS ETC), ENVIRONMENTAL MATERIAL (POLLEN, EDIBLE PLANT REMAINS ETC) OR LAYERS INDICATING DIFFERENT PHASES OR A SINGLE ONE FOR THE BACKFILLING OF THESE FOSSES. THE FOSSES AND ASSOCIATED BANKS WOULD HAVE BEEN THE MAIN DEFENSIVE STRUCTURES OF A RINGFORT. THESE WERE THE ELEMENTS WHICH BROUGHT THE SITE TO OUR ATTENTION INITIALLY WHEN THEY WERE SPOTTED AS CROP MARKS DURING AERIAL RECONNAISSANCE OF THE AREA. THESE ARCHAEOLOGICAL FEATURES SHOULD BECOME MORE OBVIOUS IN THE NEXT WEEK OR TWO.
CATRYN POWER
COUNTY ARCHAEOLOGIST


The enclosure is located on a site, 1.99 acres in size, in the ownership of Cork County Council and is situated on the Link Road next to the new Ballincollig fire station.

The archaeological monument was initially discovered during an aerial photographic survey by Dr Daphne Pochin Mould. The enclosure is levelled and only evident from associated crop marks. The Monument is protected by the National Monuments Act 1930.
In 2002, Cork County Council retained an archaeological company to carry out an archaeological assessment initially and subsequently in 2003 licensed archaeological testing of the monument. Subsequent to this a fire station was built for Ballincollig adjacent to the ringfort and interference to the monument was avoided. Cork County Council would now like to build its Fire Department Headquarters next to the existing fire station.
In its increased commitment to the protection and promotion of the integrity of its archaeological monuments, Cork County Council has employed an archaeological company to carry out a partial excavation of the site and to record the remainder of the site. The work is to be carried out in three phases. Following the archaeological investigations Cork County Council in liaison with the Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government will formulate a strategy for the improved identity, access, management, interpretation and public presentation of the enclosure/ringfort and its setting in the long term; making it an essential part of Ballincollig’s cultural uniqueness.The first phase of excavation will start on the 3rd April 2006 (postponed).

Ringforts in Wikipedia

Other Forts

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Roovesmor, Co. Cork (ringfort)

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Grianan Ailligh,Donegal (stone fort)

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Cahergall, Kerry (stone fort)

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Entrance to Cahervagliair Ringfort, Co. Cork.

Page put together by the Jordans

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One Response to Ringfort

  1. Max McCarthy says:

    Hi Catryn,
    Roovesmore now opened? Brilliant. Have only Pitt Rivers(Lane Fax) record…can I see….oghams still there?
    Max

Comments are closed.