The Forgotten Cemetery
DELANEY & MURPHY
In the summer of 2015, archaeologists uncovered the remains of a previously unrecorded ringfort in the townland of Ranelagh just north of Roscommon town. Over the year that followed, excavations revealed a site which began in the fourth century as a simple defended farmstead, but which expanded considerably and changed emphasis over the centuries in line with the requirements of its inhabitants.
Through this period, and beyond, the enclosure also functioned as a burial ground for these people and their extended family. This latest entry in the TII Heritage Series—using a combination of traditional interpretative methods and the results of innovative scientific analysis techniques—tells not just the story of the Ranelagh site, but that of its inhabitants as a group, and as individuals.
Details regarding subsistence and farming practices, personal health, pregnancy and childcare, the treatment of the old and infirm, community and immigration, artefact manufacture and light industry, and of personal loss and burial practice were all revealed. In short, the Ranelagh site provides no less than a perspective on the fundamental realities of life and death in Ireland at this time.
Shane Delaney is a graduate of University College Cork. He has managed and directed archaeological excavations throughout Ireland and has published work on a number of his archaeological fieldwork projects. Shane is a Senior Archaeologist with IAC Archaeology.
Eileen Murphy is Professor of Archaeology in the School of Natural and Built Environment, Queen’s University Belfast. Her work uses approaches from bioarchaeology and funerary archaeology to help further understanding of the lives of people in the past. She is the founding and current editor of the international journal, Childhood in the Past.