The photo in our banner was taken by Brian MacDomhnaill, a keen photographer and our Survey Manager. The image was shortlisted for an award in the international journal Antiquity this year and has also appeared in numerous talks and publications, including the cover of the most recent issue of Current Archaeology. It is primarily an excellent photograph of archaeology in action, but it also captures a moment in time when Irish archaeology was experiencing a period of Utopia, with full employment, good conditions and decent career paths. How the world has changed!
The subject of the photograph is a Late Bronze Age / Early Iron Age enclosure, a relatively rare find in the archaeology of Ireland. The excavation was undertaken in the townland of Ballybannon in County Carlow in advance of the development of the N9 Carlow Bypass. Less than half the site was within the road-take and therefore subject to archaeological excavation, but the full circuit of the enclosing ditch could be traced in the neighbouring field as a crop-mark thanks to the excellent photograph taken by Brian. Unfortunately the excavation revealed very little information regarding the function of the enclosure or the nature of the people who used it. A radiocarbon date of 404-238 cal BC was recovered from the initial backfill of the enclosing ditch which indicated that the ditch began to silt up in the Early Iron Age. A large quantity of burnt and unburnt animal bone was recovered from the later infilling of the ditch and our Faunal Specialist determined that this material derived from cattle and red deer.