The excavations were directed by Sean P. O Riordain, then Professor of Celtic Archaeology at University College Dublin, who spent two summers at the site (1952 and 1953). His discoveries are supported here by post-excavation research and a series of radiocarbon determinations from samples collected by his team.
The site had a complex sequence of ritual, funerary and domestic activity which is divided into four main phases. The earliest is undated but is represented by a ditched enclosure that may be of the Bronze Age or Iron Age, while the second dates from the late Iron Age and consists of a series of ritual or ceremonial enclosures with strong parallels at Emain Macha and Dún Ailinne. In the third phase there are two cemeteries, one contained in a barrow and the other unprotected, of the early centuries AD.
The domestic enclosure of the Rath of the Synods itself was built and occupied in the fourth phase. There is a substantial and significant material assemblage from the site. While in the third phase this reflects a very strong element of contact with Roman Britain in the third to fourth century AD, disentangling the native from the Romano-British contribution is especially complex as no other Irish site has produced a comparable set of evidence. The material suggests, however, either interaction between the occupants and allied or related communities in Britain or possibly the domestic site of a family from the fringes of the Roman world.
Every effort has been made to assess all the available material, including the uncontexted finds.
|Publication date||20 Sep 2008|