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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Getting the early wheel turning on Irish bogs

From the Irish Times:

NEXT TIME a set of gleaming alloys or slick Pirelli tyres catches your eye, spare a thought for our ancestors. To get themselves rolling, they had to get creative with a tree and an axe, writes CLAIRE O’CONNELL

We don’t know much about prehistoric vehicles here, but archaeological digs for new road developments have been rolling back the years, offering clues about how people travelled from A to B in the old days.

One excavation in particular – carried out in 2006 ahead of building the Dromod-Roosky bypass on the N4 – revealed a network of wooden trackways and platforms criss-crossing through an area of bog.

The trackways date from around 3,600BC up to 800AD, explains consultant archaeologist CaitrĂ­ona Moore, a director on the dig that summer at Edercloon, Co Longford, for the Cultural Resource Development Services. “It was in a little area of reclaimed raised bog along the side of the former N4,” she recalls. “Just underneath the grass was intact bog, which has high water-levels and low oxygen, so the trackways were very well preserved.”

The wooden structures, which were built through the Stone, Bronze and Iron Ages and into to the early Christian period, would have allowed pedestrian access into the bog, possibly to find food and plants, explains Moore.

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