SECTION 1 : INTRODUCTION
Mary G. O’Donnell
The Heritage Council commissioned a survey of unpublished excavations for the period 1930-1997 (Doyle et al 2001). That survey examined the Heritage Service archive of reports on archaeological excavations and categorised 81 sites as being of national importance (Category 1) and a further 340 as being of regional significance (Category 2). Both categories were considered worthy of full publication (ibid. 15).
Subsequent to the publication of the report, the Heritage Council commissioned a project to develop a website and publish a booklet on the 81 Category 1 sites. The sites chosen for inclusion were determined by the Heritage Council and a list was appended. The list included sites that were allocated finds’ numbers (E numbers) by the National Museum of Ireland. These numbers do not necessarily correspond to the system of excavation numbers issued by the National Monuments Service (formally OPW/Dúchas/Heritage Service) from c. 1990 onwards. An example of this is Lakill and Moorestown, Co. Westmeath (E899) where finds were recovered and a Museum Number was allocated, although the site was not an excavation. Some sites such as Lough Gur, Co. Limerick (Cleary 2003) had already gone to press and are now published. Other sites, such as Caherlehillan, Co. Kerry are still in the process of excavation and a final statement on the site is premature. In all, 69 sites were included in this report. The publication of some sites has also progressed since the initial survey in 2001 and examples such as the Clonmacnoise Bridge, Co. Offaly, Chancellorsland, Co. Tipperary and Illaunloughan, Co. Kerry are due for publication in the near future. A full report on the excavations at Iniscealtra has also been prepared and awaits publication.
The Heritage Council brief for this project was to compile a synopsis of each site, detailing the location, the excavator, the date of the excavation, and why the project was carried out and the significance of the results. Each excavator was contacted and asked to submit a short report on their site with reference to the Heritage Council brief. Excavators were also asked to provide some graphics for the site, either by way of site plans and/or photographs. The response was mixed. In general most excavators were happy to provide an updated synopsis of the results of their excavations in the interests of disseminating information to their colleagues and the Irish archaeological world. Others did not respond and a synopsis of the available published material on the specific site was compiled and sent for approval. Some excavators returned the synopses with comments and provided accompanying graphics. Others did not respond and at that point it was decided to include a site description from previously published accounts. These published accounts were in varied sources; principally the Excavations bulletin or in Archaeology Ireland. Excavators who did not reply are identified by an asterisk.
Available radiocarbon determinations submitted by the excavators or available from published material were calibrated (Cal BC) using the Ox Cal Calibration programme.
Cleary, R. M. 2003 ‘Enclosed Late Bronze Age habitation site and boundary wall at Lough Gur, Co. Limerick’. Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy. 103C. 4-189.
Doyle, I., Jennings, D. and MacDermott, J. with Challinor, D. and Lambrick, G. 2001 Unpublished Excavations Survey 1930-1997. Oxford Archaeological Unit for the Heritage Council of Ireland.