Research Projects

Knocknashee Archaeology Project


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Project: Knocknashee Archaeology Project

Directors: Dr. Dirk Brandherm, Cormac McSparron, Queen’s University Belfast

Location: Knocknashee, Lavagh, Tubbercurry, Co. Sligo

Year: 2016-ongoing

Funding: Royal Irish Academy Grant (2016, 2017)

Aim: Geophysical surveys assessed house sites on the plateau of Knocknashee, a hillfort complex which also contains two Passage Tombs. In 2016 I directed surveys at Earthsound Archaeological Geophysics across the entire hillfort interior – more than 20 ha in size – using Magnetic Susceptibility to identify zonations of activity alongside volunteers from IT Sligo. Specific clusters of huts and enclosures were further investigated with high-resolution Magnetometry and Earth Resistance surveys. I returned in 2017 to direct a Magnetometer survey across the southern half of the plateau and targeted Metal Detection surveys over house groups in advance of an excavation by Queen’s University Belfast. I’ve also been analysing soils recovered from the excavation using a variety of geoarchaeological techniques at IT Sligo.

Outcomes: In Summer 2018, my work on Knocknashee Hillfort, Co. Sligo, Ireland, was published in a number of outlets. The results of the 2016 geophysical surveys were published in Emania, with additional pieces in Archaeology Ireland and PAST. The PAST item also featured an introduction to the 2017 excavation including the results of radiocarbon dates which demonstrate that all three houses date to the Late Bronze Age.

Brandherm, D., McSparron, C., Kahlert, T. & Bonsall, J. 2018. ‘Topographical and Geophysical Survey at Knocknashee, Co. Sligo – Results from the 2016 Campaign’. Emania 24 (2018), pp81-96.

Brandherm, D., McSparron, C., Kahlert, T., Bonsall, J., Wilkinson, A. & Kytmannow, T. 2018. ‘The hill of the fairies’. Archaeology Ireland, Autumn 2018.

Brandherm, D., McSparron, C., Boutoille, L., Kahlert, T. & Bonsall, J. 2018. ‘Prehistoric hilltop settlement in the west of Ireland’. PAST – The Newsletter of the Prehistoric Society 89 (2018), pp1-3.



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