Friday, 21 February 2014

Edercloon Bronze Age Tóchar

This is part of a series of 4 illustrations I was hired to do for the NRA (National Roads Authority), two of the others Woodstown and Clowanstown are already online, Ill release the 4th soon. Before I go into the information behind the illustration I would just like to thank Mary Deevy for directing the illustrations and to Catríona Moore for giving expert advice all along the way, it would not have been possible to make the illustration without them.

Edercloon in Co. Longford, was a bog area with an incredible concentration of tóchars from the Neolithic to Early Middle ages, as far as I remember there was over 50 found in this one site. Tóchars were often built to cross bogs from one side to the other and some have been found to be quite substantial, like Corlea bog also in Longford. But this particular tóchar illustrated here was strange because it did not cross the bog but ended in the middle of it, so that its purpose was to provide access to the bog rather than over it.

Ill leave the rest to the NRA writeup about the site:

Three thousand years ago a Late Bronze Age community constructed a wooden trackway in a bog. They laid roundwoods, brushwood and twigs onto the bog surface and secured them in place with long wooden pegs or stakes. Every few metres they deposited wooden objects within the trackway. One of these objects was part of a finely worked, but unfinished, alder block wheel. Another was a twisted and carved hazel rod, like the one at the top of the staff held by the priestess overseeing the deposition in this scene.

This image was inspired by one of a complex of wooden trackways or toghers (from the Irish tóchar) discovered in reclaimed bogland that would have been open raised bog during prehistory. We do not know why they built this trackway—it wasn’t constructed to merely cross this difficult wet terrain, but rather to access the bog itself, but for what purpose? The artefacts and their function within the trackway are also intriguing. They could be interpreted simply as waste wood helping to add bulk to the trackway foundation except that there are clear patterns in the way they were deposited, suggesting it was a deliberate and highly structured act.

The site was discovered at Edercloon, Co. Longford, during archaeological investigations in advance of the construction of the N4 Dromod–Roosky Bypass in counties Longford and Leitrim. Caitríona Moore directed the excavation on behalf of CRDS Ltd and kindly provided specialist advice to the artist J G O’Donoghue. The excavation results will be published as an NRA Scheme Monograph in the near future.

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