Carrowmore · Publications · Research Projects · Uncategorized

Excavation at Carrowmore Megalithic Cemetery

Project: Carrowmore: IT Sligo Training Excavation

Directors: Dr Marion Dowd, Dr James Bonsall, IT Sligo

Location: Carrowmore, Sligo

Year: 2019-ongoing

Funding: IT Sligo (2019)

Aim: I’ve been carrying out geophysical surveys across the Carrowmore Megalithic Cemetery since 2011. In 2019, myself and Dr Marion Dowd began excavating one of the most enigmatic sites in the Neolithic complex.

This project comprises a training and research excavation at a site officially classified in the SMR as a barrow (SL014- 209041-). The training is for first year students on the BSc/BSc(Hons)/HCert in Applied Archaeology at IT Sligo.

The excavation took place over two weeks in May/June 2019.

One trench, (18m x 2m), was opened on the eastern side of the monument where the banks and ditches are best preserved. The trench captured a portion of the central area, and sections of the three ditches and two banks. The outermost enclosing elements were previously only visible in earth resistance survey carried out by myself and IT Sligo students in 2016.

Outcomes: The excavation concluded after two weeks and the research has moved in to the post-excavation phase. An OSL-derived Middle Neolithic date for the monument indicates that it is contemporary with the Carrowmore cemetery complex.

The preliminary archaeological report was submitted to the National Monuments Service and the National Museum of Ireland in June 2019. A summary is available on (Database of Irish Excavation Reports).

The initial findings were presented to the Sligo Field Club on 29th November 2019 and reported in the Spring 2020 volume of Archaeology Ireland, and a full publication in the Journal of Irish Archaeology followed in November 2021.

Dowd, M., Bonsall, J. and Hogan, C. 2021. ‘Excavation of a Neolithic monument at the heart of the Carrowmore passage tomb complex, Co. Sligo’. Journal of Irish Archaeology, Volume XXX, Wordwell, Dublin, pp1-24.

Dowd, M. & Bonsall, J. 2020. ‘The Carrowmore Conundrum’. Archaeology Ireland, 34(1), Spring 2020, 21-25.

Bonsall, J. and Dowd, M. 2019. ‘New archaeological research at the Carrowmore complex, County Sligo’. Lecture to the Sligo Field Club, Sligo Education Centre, Sligo, Ireland. 29 November 2019.

Dr Marion Dowd & Dr James Bonsall at the Sligo Field Club. Photo credit: Sally Siggins.

During the excavation, our students created video diaries each day to show our progress. At the end of the excavation, we filmed a brief summary of our findings to date.

Summary of findings:

Video Diaries:

Day 1:

Day 2:

Day 3:

Day 4:

Day 5:

Day 6:

Day 7:

Day 8:

Day 9:

Day 10: