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Dublin: 10°C Wednesday 25 May 2022

Evidence of settlement from 400-500 AD and human burials discovered in Co Waterford

The recent excavation uncovered nine human burials on Gallows Hill in Dungarvan.

People working on the Gallows Hill site
People working on the Gallows Hill site
Image: Gallows Hill Project

EVIDENCE OF A settlement that dates from the late Iron Age and early Christian period have been discovered in Co Waterford. 

Charcoal samples from a circular ditch under the mound at Gallows Hill last week returned unexpected dates of around 400 AD to 500 AD. 

The charcoal was mixed with fragments of burnt animal bones and flint. 

The Gallows Hill community led project first began working with local volunteers and professionals in 2015 to uncover the hill’s history. 

In 2017 and 2018, three ditches and artefacts were uncovered at what seems to have been an Anglo-Norman motte. 

The hill had been refortified a few centuries later, when new defences were added. 

The recent excavation also uncovered nine human burials on the summit. 

Radiocarbon analysis returned this week has revealed the burials were buried at different times during the 1500s and 1600s, possibly when the hill’s summit was used as an execution site. 

The newly discovered sitch has been only partially excavated, so there may been more to uncover. 

Further work may uncover the type of settlement that existed in Dungarvan, an early ringfort that was redeveloped as a motte, or perhaps a pre-existing mound, according to the researchers. 

“The findings are exciting and the group are unearthing a long-forgotten story of Dungarvan over 800 years before the Anglo-Normans arrived into the town,” they said.

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