Friday, 12 July 2013

Knockgraffon- A Middle Bronze Age Byre

Knockgraffon is a small roundhouse found in Tipperary, Ireland, during the construction of the N8 road from Cashel to Mitchelstown. Before I go into it too much, I would just like to thank two individuals who the image would not have been possible without, one is the excavator Colm Moriarty, who was very kind to answer all my questions, he also runs a great website well worth checking out: A special thanks also has to go to Charles Mount for making me aware of the site, supplying the report and answering any questions, he also has a site well worth checking out:

Right, onto the reconstruction, the house was on a steep east facing slope, with views of the landscape around. There was a whole bronze age landscape found during excavations of the N8, from settlements to Burials to Fulachtaí Fiadh. It was believed the landscape around the house was quite open, with scrubland predominantly.  Other houses were found nearby that were contemporary to this site and which one could see from the illustrated house, thanks to its elevated position. Dates found were from 1530-1400 BC, so the middle Bronze age. The building was circular with two central posts as roof supports. The entrance faced north west, which is unusual as most houses are found to face south east, to take advantage of sunlight throughout the year, the reason suggested for the badly positioned entrance was because it probably faced another main habitation house. Because of the entrance, the steep floor of the house, no internal hearth, and lack of domestic artefacts or associated finds, the excavator, Colm Moriarty, believed the site was a animal Byre rather than a domestic dwelling.

There was a line of internal stakeholes, which I intepreted as the main cattle pen, here in this illustration the people are herding the cows out of the inner pen. There is also a removable wattle gate that rests behind the right central support post. More stakeholes were by the entrance, which I interpreted as a wattle chute, that would funnel the cows into the entrance on the way out. There was another stakehole by the wall which I intepretated it as holding up a wooden platform for pottery, seen here beside the double posts on the wall.  Also because of the lack of an internal hearth I thought it may have a more open entrance than usually and perhaps there would be roof holes on either side to allow light into the building, but with some kind of hood to stop rain from flooding in.

Outside of the main building there was 2 hearths, each with a stakehole beside it, which I intepretated as work areas, one being used to support a weighted loom (which there was a loom weight found in a nearby Knockgraffon BA site) and also another stakehole as a tying pole for milking. The two central poles, also found in another BA knockgraffon site, isn't the usual roundhouse design I have seen; which consist of a singular central pole or 4 central poles that make a circle in order to rest the rafters on. But the two central posts here would create a ridge which the rafters from both sides would all meet. This could be made in order to allow roof holes on either side for light as mentioned previously. A secondary reason is that two central posts offer a much better funnel or exit for cattle, if there was 4 or just one, there is a good chance the cattle would scratch themselves off it and so slant the posts and also a chance that the cattle would hit off the posts on the way out. So I believe having 2 central posts part of a wattle and daub fence, protects them and creates a natural chute for the cattle towards the entrance.


1. Colm Moriarty
2. Charles Mount
3. Final Report-Knockgraffon, Co. Tipperary N8 Cashel to Mitchelstown Road Improvement Scheme- By Colm Moriarty, Margaret Gowen & Co. Ltd- October 2007
4. Bronze Age life and death- Evidence from recent excavations in South Tipperary, Limerick & Cork, Ireland
5. Irish Bronze Age Settlements: More than Meets the Eye?- Kerri Cleary- Archaeology Ireland, Vol. 20, No. 2 (Summer, 2006), pp. 18-21
6. Pre-christian Ireland- Peter Harbinson- 1998- Thames & Hudson Ltd, London
7. The Prehistoric Archaeology of Ireland - John Waddell- 2010- Wordwell
8. Early Ireland- Michael J. O'Kelly-Cambridge University Press- 1995

1 comment:

Hye said...

This is cool!