A recent archaeological excavation at Cabinteely in Co. Dublin has uncovered a number of human skeletons of probable early medieval date. Directed by Ken Wiggins, on behalf of Judith Carroll & Co, the excavation indentified the remains of at least five individuals, who had been interred in shallow, east-west oriented graves.
These newly discovered burials appear to be related to a large early medieval cemetery that was partially excavated at Cabinteely in the 1990s by a team of archaeologists led by Malachy Conway (Conway 1999).
During this earlier investigation over 1500 skeletons were found in a small area that measured just half the size of a tennis court. This enormous density of human remains was a result over 700 years of accumulated burial activity that had commenced sometime during the 5th century AD.
The majority of burials on Conway’s site had been laid out in a supine position (on their backs), with their heads to the west and many appeared to have been buried in shrouds. Subsequent specialist analysis of the remains identified a variety of pathologies, many of which were suggestive of hard, labour intensive lifestyles.
Some more unusual burials were also identified at the cemetery, including an individual with a trepanated skull, a male who had been killed by multiple sword blows and a pregnant woman, who had sadly died during child birth.
Due to the limits of the original development site Malachy Conway’s excavation revealed only a small portion of a much larger burial ground, which appeared to extend into adjacent properties. The five newly discovered skeletons are located just a short distance from this site and it seems highly likely that form part of the same cemetery. Hopefully post-excavation analysis of the burials will confirm this hypothesis.
Conway, M. (1999) Directors First Findings from Excavations in Cabinteely, Margaret Gowen and Co. Ltd, Dublin
Thanks to Ken Wiggins & Judith Carroll for their assistance in producing this blog post