The 2022 research season featured 8 weeks field and lab work to document the earliest and subsequent settlement of the Waterford Estuary and (specifically Fornaught Strand located on its west bank) and to reconstruct the environmental prehistory of this region since the receding of the most recent glaciers 12,000 years ago. The 2022 field season included artefact analysis of current collections and sedimentary coring of the estuary.
Examination of Artefacts and Bones
Our focus on lithic (stone tool) analysis compared a sample from Noel McDonagh’s collection of stone artefacts and animal bones from the Creadan Head area with previous analyses of lithic artefacts collected during the Bally Lough Archaeological Project in the 1980’s and 1990’s. This lab work reconfirmed that the first colonizers of the area came 9,000-10,000 years ago, during what is known as the Early Mesolithic Period. This confirms that southeastern Ireland was among the earliest entry points for Ireland’s first settlers. The artefacts further demonstrate continuous use of the Fornaught Valley through later Mesolithic to Neolithic (first farming) and the Bronze Age (village settlement) of 3,000 years ago.
Our research details the specific type of stone tool making known as Bipolar Knapping during the early Mesolithic that was suitable for making small cutting and scraping tools from local beach pebbles. Crafts people placed the small chert beach pebbles on other stones and hit them with larger hammer stone. Beginning in the later Mesolithic, bipolar technology was complemented by the more common platform technology where larger flints were handheld and chipped to create larger flakes, blades and other tools. These larger flint stones were probably imported during their settlers’ seasonal settlement movement and exchange networks.
The McDonagh collection included one Red Deer Antler that was fashioned into an axe. It has been sent for C14 dating and is expected to match another antler and the Fulacht Fiadh that dated 2800 BP.
A team of geo-archaeologists spent one week coring the Fornaught strand, its intertidal zone, and the adjoining marsh using a Geoprobe brought in from Belfast. Approximately 2 dozen cores were drilled to reveal the depositional layering of Fornaught Strand over the past 12,000 years. These cores were cut and sampled in the lab. The samples are now being prepared for specialist analysis that will date the layers, reconstruct the vegetation, and reconstruct salinity, sea level and overall climate of the region as it has changed over the past 12,000 years.
The Irish Archaeology Team
The Irish Archaeology Team
Dr. Stanton Green, Professor Emeritus, Monmouth University, US
Dr. Joseph Schuldenrein, President Geoarchaeology Research Associates, US
Claudia Green, Independent Archaeologist, US
Dr. Thomas Kador, University College London, UK
Dr. Heidi Luchsinger, Professional Geoarchaeologist, SWCA Environmental Consultants, US
Sophie Green, Professional Graphic Designer and Photographer, US
Julia O’Donoghue, Certified Archaeologist, Mizen Consultants, Cork
Dr. Peter Rowley- Conwy, Professor Emeritus, University of Durham, UK
John Castleford, Professional Archaeologist, Rosslare, Republic of Ireland
Conor Donegan, MA History, Dunmore East, Republic of Ireland
Dr. Linda Scott Cummings, Paleo-Research Institute, USA
Robert Barry & his Geoprobe Crew, Antrim, NI, UK
Brian Gordon Phillips, Local Liaison, Dunmore East, Republic of Ireland