\"Clonycavan

Clonycavan Bog Man is one of several Iron Age bog-preserved bodies on display at the National Museum of Ireland. Photo by: Photocall Ireland / National Museum

Top ten archaeological discoveries in Ireland

\"Clonycavan

Clonycavan Bog Man is one of several Iron Age bog-preserved bodies on display at the National Museum of Ireland. Photo by: Photocall Ireland / National Museum

From jewelry, to people, to ancient sites, here are some recent archaeological finds from in and around Ireland.

1. Clonycavan Man

Clonycavan Man was discovered in Meath in February of 2003 after his remains dropped off a peat cutting machine. The Most interesting fact about him is that his hair appeared to have a sort of gel in it, which slicked his hair up into a mohawk. The ingredients of the “gel” were traced back to either France or Spain. Judging by the deep wounds in his skull, Clonycavan Man appears to have been brutally murdered, possibly by an axe approximately 2300 years ago. Clonycavan Man has found a new home – on display at the National Museum of Ireland in Dublin.

2. Oldcroghan Man

Oldcroghan Man was named for the location where he was found, Croghan Hill in Offaly. This man was 6’6", quite tall for his time period. He also had neatly manicured nails. Oldcroghan’s body was preserved so finely that a murder investigation was launched when he was first found. As it transpired, he was brutally murdered, a fact deduced from his lack of head and lower body.

His stomach gave evidence of a wheat and buttermilk diet. He was found three months after Clonycavan Man was discovered and at a location about 25 miles away from where Clonycavan Man was found. He too is on display at the National Museum of Ireland in Dublin.

3. Linn Duachaill

Linn Duachaill was a  Viking settlement village in what is today Annagassan, County Louth. The village is presumed to have been a Viking winter base, one of only two in Ireland. After some testing by Dundalk’s County Museum it was discovered that the site was, in fact, where the Vikings repaired their longships and launched inland raids. Later, it became a trading site. It was founded in 841, which places it among the earliest settlements of Vikings in Ireland.

4. Bog butter

This batch of butter was dug up in Tullamore and is believed to be a staggering 5,000 years old. The “butter” was discovered by turf cutters who found it seven feet underground in what appeared to be a “keg” or “urn” type capsule. They cut it open with a spade and found the butter inside. Presumably, the butter was buried as a form of refrigeration. Although ‘bog butter’ is a more common discovery around Ireland, the discovery in 2011 was remarkable for its size – 100 pounds! The substance was said to still have a “dairy smell,” though no one is positive what exactly the substance is.

5. 4000-year-old necklace found

After two thieves robbed a shop in Strokestown, Co Roscommon, they discarded the necklace and other documents in a dumpster in Dublin. Police were lucky to find the precious artifact before the dumpster was emptied. The necklace is believed to be 4,000 years old and to have belonged to an early king of Ireland. The necklace, called a lunala, was originally found in 1945 when it was dug up in Roscommon. It was given to the Strokestown shopkeeper where he kept it locked away in a safe until the robbery.

6. Ancient Latin Psalter

In 2006, a mechanical digger unearthed a 1200 year old manuscript in Faddan More near Riverstown in County Tipperary. The manuscript is comprised of 60 vellum pages and has covers made from animal skin. It was found undisturbed and open to the Latin version of Psalm 83. The discovery was said to be of staggering impact, and changed the understanding of how old Irish manuscripts were created.

7. Sacrificed king in Laois

A mummified body found in Laois became of special interest to archaeologists when it was discovered on the boundary of two ancient Irish kingdoms, thus suggesting that the body may have been that of a king. The 3,000-year-old remains were found just moments before a local worker drove over it. In addition to its location, the body discovered had various cuts on it, suggesting a ritual sacrifice.

8. Mabel Bagenal, Ireland’s ‘Helen of Troy’

The remains of what is believed to be Ireland’s ‘Helen of Troy’ were discovered in Dungannon’s Castle Hill in County Tyrone. The evidence suggests that the body could be that of Mabel Bagenal, who died in 1596 and was the third wife of the Early of Tyrone, Hugh O’Neill. Ornate details in her burial point to her having had a high social status during her life, one fitting for the wife of an Earl.

9. Burial Ground in north Dublin

Scientists from Queens University conducted tests on the burial site in north Dublin and concluded that it was created in the seventh century AD. With this information it was deduced that the site is from the pre-Viking era of Christian conversion.

10. “Zombie” Graveyard

This so-called “zombie” graveyard was discovered at a site overlooking Lough Key in Roscommon. The skeletal remains found there were discovered to have large rocks placed in their mouths, possibly in hopes of preventing the souls raising up to terrorize the living.

Originally published in 2011.

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