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re/ Human Remains found in the path of the M3 through the Tara/Skryne ( Gabhra ) valley






Dear Ms Sinnott,

Michael Egan asked that I forward you details regarding the human burials found during the course of archaeological works along the M3.  The majority of the human remains uncovered on the scheme are currently undergoing specialist osteoarchaeological study, and we are awaiting these specialist reports. 

However osteoarchaeological specialist analysis is complete on a number of sites - including Ardsallagh 1 (inhumations). Ardsallagh 2 (both inhumations & cremations) and Roestown.  For your information I have attached these reports.

I can also confirm that no human remains were recovered at Baronstown.


Rónán Swan
(Acting) Head of Archaeology
National Roads Authority
St Martin's House
Waterloo Road
Dublin 4
tel: 00 353 1 6602511
fax: 00 353 1 6624887

  <<04_01 FINAL Ardsallagh 1 Osteological Rpt_30 burials 07 Dec 06.pdf>> > > 
<<Ardsallagh  2 cremations.pdf>> > > 
<<Ardsallagh 1 cremation.pdf>> > > 
<<04_01 FINAL Roestown 2 Osteo rpt_J Coughlin 23 Jan 07.pdf>> 

Sumary of results so far - others to follow -



Ardsallagh 1 - burials

04_01 FINAL Ardsallagh 1 Osteological Rpt_30 burials 07 Dec 06.pdf

30 skeletons in 27 burials - 3 double
The double burials are adult and child
Mixed ages but no infants at all

"A suite of radiocarbon dates suggests several hundred years of human activity at the site, from the early 1st Century BC to the early 7th Century AD. "

Radiocarbon on human bone yielding dates from the early 5th to early 7th Century AD
East/West with heads to West - no grave goods except a copper bangle - graves slightly lined with stones
1 case of congenital syphilis ie/ inherited from mother ( a child )



Ardsallagh  2 cremations

Ardsallagh  2 cremations.pdf

4 cremations in pottery vessels - Bronze Age - all adults



Ardsallagh 1 cremation
Ardsallagh 1 cremation.pdf

1 adult -sex not known - in late Rronze Age vessel



Roestown 2-skeletons
04_01 FINAL Roestown 2 Osteo rpt_J Coughlin 23 Jan 07.pdf
2 skeletons , 1 child , 1 adult




from - Ardsallagh1 - the burials

Christian graves before arrival of St Patrick ..?

Human remains1 were recovered from 30 inhumation deposits within and around the enclosure. A suite of radiocarbon dates suggests several hundred years of human activity at the site, from the early 1st Century BC to the early 7th Century AD. Three direct AMS radiocarbon dates were derived from human bone yielding dates from the early 5th to early 7th Century AD (420 to 610 CAL AD; 370 to 650 CAL AD 2σ range).

Inhumation was the primary burial rite at the site, with supine extended disposition the norm. Three double burials were recovered; in each instance these represented the simultaneous inhumation of a juvenile with that of an adult. The majority of burials were aligned roughly around the West-East axis, with only a single doubleinhumation being aligned in a more northerly direction; in all instances the bodies were deposited with the head to the western end of the grave. No evidence of the use of coffins or other burial capsule was recovered. In the main the grave forms were simple, with only five cases of crude stone lining (edge delineation). Grave goods were almost conspicuously absent, with exception of a copper alloy necklace (burial 20) and copper alloy ring (burial 29).

Tradition maintains that in AD 432, St. Patrick arrived on the island and, in the years that followed, worked to convert the Irish to Christianity. On the other hand, according to Prosper of Aquitaine, a contemporary chronicler, Palladius was sent to Ireland by the Pope in 431 as "first Bishop to the Irish believing in Christ", which demonstrates that there were already Christians living in Ireland. Palladius seems to have worked purely as Bishop to Irish Christians in the Leinster and Meath kingdoms, while Patrick — who may have arrived as late as 461 — worked first and foremost as a missionary to the Pagan Irish, converting in the more remote kingdoms located in Ulster and Connacht.




also from - Ardsallagh 1 - the burials

earliest case of syphilis ...?                  

Burial 13

A diagnosis of congenital syphilis is supported by evidence of symmetrical bilateral periosteal reactions affecting the bony surfaces of the elbow (distal humerus, proximal radius and ulna) and knee joints (distal femur, proximal tibia). Whilst other infective agents may be implicated in this diagnosis (e.g. tuberculosis or brucellosis) the balance of evidence supports a diagnosis of congenital syphilis. This however, implies maternal transmission of the venereal form for which no evidence of chronic expression has been recorded amongst adults in the assemblage. The venereal form is an acute or chronic treponematosis that has recently been the subject of much debate amongst palaeopathologists. Whilst early pre-Columbian presence of the disease in the Old World has traditionally been strongly contested (Roberts and Cox, 2003), evidential sources continue to accumulate placing venereal (and by extension congenital) syphilis in a pre-Columbian Old World context (von Hunnis et al., 2006) including the recent recovery of skeletal remains from a 13th Century AD Irish context (Fibiger, 2004).

                  but 13th Century AD ( see above )  is not 7th Century  - which is the latest date for these remains

 see http://news.independent.co.uk/health/article266422.ece

 - contacts with the New World .....?  - in 7th Century ....?