Lios na gCon
Lios-na-gCon
Excavation
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Lios-na-gCon is a Ringfort in Darrara, Clonakilty, West Cork, Ireland. It has been reconstructed on its original site.

The Excavation of Lios-na-gCon - sometimes anglicised to Lis-na-gun/Lisnagun - the Ringfort of the Hound, extended over 13 months between August 1987 and August 1989. The excavation was organised by Clonakilty Macra na Feirme as the first phase in the investigation and reconstruction of the site. The aims of the project were to exhibit the reconstructed ringfort for amenity and educational purposes, and to promote the preservation of other archaeological earthworks amongst young farmers. The site of Lios-na-gCon is on the property of Teagasc Clonakilty Agricultural College.

The Ringfort is situated on a gentle slope of south-eastern aspect in a landscape of undulated pastoral farm land. On a clear day the mouth of Clonakilty Bay can be seen from the site. It is one of three circular earthworks in the townland known as Darrara and one of 48 circular earthworks or possible ringforts sites recorded by the Cork Archaeological Survey in the Clonakilty area.

Prior to excavation, the site was moderately well preserved. The bank was upstanding on all sides and the ditch, though partly in-filled, survived to 1.5m in depth on the east or downslope side. Local knowledge reported at least one souterrain in the interior, although the location of this was not precisely known.

The excavation was preceded by a series of scientific surveys, conducted by Mr Martin Doody for the Department of Archaeology, University College, Cork.

Archaeological investigation of Lios-na-gCon found that the earthworks once formed a substantial defensive enclosure. The original entrance was identified as an earthen causeway in the SE, which gave access to a gravel paved interior, dominated by a central wooden round house. Several small outhouses and animal pens stood against the stone reveffment wall of the banks inner face. Underground, the site was honeycombed by three earth-cut souterrains - tunnels for storage and defence.

Finds included iron slag and tool fragments, quernstones, a blue glass bead and crude bone stones and hammer stones.

Evidence of economic activity took the form of charred remains of the bones of cattle, sheep, pig, and red deer, as well as of wheat, rye, barley, flax, radish and hazel nut.

This information about the farm settlement at Lios-na-gCon was recovered by systematic and detailed excavation of the site by a group of local young people, supervised by trained archaeological supervisors, and by subsequent laboratory analysis of samples from the site.

Ringforts were built and occupied between c.400 AD and c.1200 AD, in the Early Christian and Viking periods. Like stone cashels and some lake land crannogs, they were the defended farmsteads of the native Irish Celts. These settlements were centres of mixed farming economy, and were largely self-sufficient in the production of tools, textiles, and household goods. About 35,000 ringfort sites are identifiable in the Irish landscape today - they are clearly marked on Ordnance Survey 6" maps of which a small sample has been archeologically investigated.


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