Galway motorway excavation sees soil throw up its ancient secrets

This early medieval farmstead or ringfort was discovered in farmland at Mackney near Ballinasloe.

A hunter’s campsite, a Bronze Age lead mine, a prehistoric hill fort and early medieval farmsteads are among the litany of ancient finds along the Galway to Ballinasloe motorway route which have been compiled in a book to be launched next week.

‘The Quiet Landscape’ follows archaeological investigations along the M6 route during its construction between 2004 and 2008.

But just four years opened a window into around 300 generations of our ancestors.

Jerry O’Sullivan – who edited the book along with Dr Jim McKeon – said: “The investigations along the motorway route have opened new windows on the early history and prehistory of this landscape. The discoveries are remarkable in their variety, especially in a county where there had been little previous archaeological fieldwork outside its historic towns.

“Some of them are of the first importance and a few are unique in the Irish archaeological record.

“The Quiet Landscape describes a hunter-gatherer camp site at Ballynaclogh; a Bronze Age lead mine at Treanbaun; a great prehistoric hill fort at Rahally; prehistoric cremation burials at Newford, Deerpark and Rathglass,” said Mr O’Sullivan, who is the National Roads Authority Archaeologist in Galway.

The 240-page book will be launched at Galway City Museum next Thursday from 5pm to 7pm by Dr Stefan Bergh of the Archaeology Department at NUI Galway.

See full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune.