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Woodman and McCarthy , 36 suggest that young domesticated cattle may have been exchanged along the Atlantic coast with Brittany by BC, if not earlier. These same contacts may have brought domesticates up into southern Ireland where large mammals were absent. These deposits, however, do not represent burnt mounds in the same sense as Irish examples, where designated areas in wetland contexts were used for pyrolithic processes.
Only one site, Greenlaw in Dumfries and Galloway, is dated to this period, consisting of a single pit filled with heat- shattered stone Kenny , Barber has noted that there is no record of burnt stones occurring at Neolithic sites such as Skara Brae or the Links of Notland. British burnt mounds are the only pyrolithic sites in Europe to share the morphological characteristics of Irish examples, namely a trough, hearth and adjacent burnt mound.
It has been noted elsewhere that the Scandinavian mounds of fire-cracked stone cannot be related to these examples due to the absence of troughs and the material found within the mounds themselves Brindley et al. The dating evidence from British burnt mounds seem to indicate an origin in the Late Neolithic period, suggesting the technology was used in Ireland long before in Britain. It is difficult to assess the significance of the Middle Neolithic dates at Greenlaw in Dumfries and Galloway and Parc Bryn Cegin, near Bangor in north Wales, as these represent the only possible Early Neolithic burnt mounds in Britain.
If one accepts that cooking was the primary activity at these early pyrolithic water-boiling sites, what role did it play in the wider social structure of these early farming communities and what distinctions, if any, can be found in similar pyrolithic technologies from the Bronze Age? Cooney , 43 observed that when these new resources were transported here, so too was the body of knowledge on how to use them. New resources also created the potential for new ideas amongst native populations, who may have already been familiar with the use of pyrolithic technology Woodman et al.
The animal bone recovered from early pyrolithic sites such as Clowans- town 1, Co. Meath, Moorechurch, Co. Meath and Cherryville 7, Co. Kildare, was dominated by cattle remains. This supports a cooking hypothesis associated with the beginnings of this technology in Ireland.
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Furthermore, the crushed calcined bone identified at Clowanstown 1, Co. Meath is thought to be consistent with butchery waste associated with the jointing of meat Coles Mossop has tentatively suggested that marrow extraction may have taken place at the site. This cooking process was possibly brought about by the introduction of new animal species, which would have created the potential for new notions of wealth and status Cummings and Harris , What may also be important is how people conceptualised these animals, and how it impacted on practice Cummings and Harris , Such occasions may have warranted communal gatherings for the slaughter, butchery and cooking of animals using pyrolithic technologies and the importance of such events is supported by the deliberate deposits noted in both burnt mounds at Clowanstown 1, Co.
The use of pottery during the Neolithic period was closely connected to cooking Cleary , , and its introduction was contemporaneous with the earliest dates for cereal growing in Ireland. Woodward and Hill suggest that the invention and adoption of pot-making allowed a more sedentary existence from the Neolithic onwards.
With the identification of Neolithic burnt Pl. The feast is seen as being less frequent, taken outside the home base at some significant location, and following its own distinctive rules in relation to such matters as food choice Jones , It is clear that pyrolithic water-boiling technology was not used to the same extent in early prehistoric Ireland as in later periods. This infrequency may suggest that the technology played a special-purpose role during this early farming period, possibly associated with communal feasting.
This might indicate that the consumption of cattle flesh during the Early Neolithic was not an everyday activity, but a special event. Furthermore, she suggests that the modes of preparation, the discarding of food waste and the locational framing of the event may also mark certain feasting occasions Twiss , This open-air process of cooking would have also required a small labour force for the construction of timber troughs, for the gathering of fuel and stone and for the constant maintenance of the hearth or fire.
The size of certain excavated troughs also up to 5m in length indicates large-scale boiling episodes for the cooking of large amounts of meat. Wright , suggests that storage and food preparation were highly visible activities that would have posed opportunities for social contacts between household and village, with the possibility that some facilities may have been shared by several groups.
This has been highlighted recently by a study of the plant remains from the Early Neolithic enclosure at Tullahedy, Co. Tipperary, where cereal remains were concentrated in larger quantities outside the house structures, suggesting that food preparation, and the disposal of food waste was focused in these more public spaces McClatchie , Such a display would serve to reinforce social cohesion, ensure the allegiance of existing members of the group and possibly even attract followers Dietler , Hayden In most cases, prehistoric faunal assemblages in Ireland do not provide clear indications of ceremonial feasting McCormick , This is particularly true for the Neolithic, as animal bone from this period is not common in the archaeological record.
Mount has argued that the animal bone assemblage discovered in front of the passage tomb at Newgrange, Co. Meath is indicative of similar feasting practices. Animal bone was recovered from nine pyrolithic sites dating to the Neolithic period c. These assemblages are quite small, consisting of fragmentary remains of cattle, deer and pig. A small amount of animal bone from Aghmacart, Co. Laois was recovered from a paleochannel adjacent to a number of spreads of heat-shattered stone. This consisted of cattle, deer and red deer.
Tommasino suggests that the presence of cranial and post-cranial elements of deer at the site may indicate the hunting and butchery of these animals Tommasino No troughs were identified at Aghmacart, therefore it cannot be concluded if boiling was the primary concern. Another small assemblage of animal bone was recovered from a fulacht fia at Ballymount, Co.
Cattle and pig bones were retrieved from the burnt mound and the fill of a post-hole, and consisted of limb bones humerus and radius. For pig, the only elements present are teeth which might be more indicative of poor preservation at the site than the activities that took place Tourunen, Animal bone remains of Neolithic date were also retrieved from Enniscoffey, Co. Westmeath; Gortroe Area 1, Co. Meath, however none of these can be identified to species. While finds of animal bone are increasingly common at excavated fulachtai fia Tourunen , their significance is not always apparent.
Their presence has led to several suggestions as to site function, relating to butchery practices and the possible preservation of meat at these sites Roycroft ; Monk Preserving meat using salt may not have been an option in Neolithic Ireland, as this substance probably first became available during the Late Bronze Age Serjeantson The smoking of meat in small huts may have been practiced, though no such structures have definitely been found associated with Neolithic pyrolithic sites. This suggests that large amounts of meat may have been consumed during a single event.
Conclusion The dating of burnt stone deposits to the Neolithic period has only been possible because of recent large-scale archaeology projects connected to infrastructural developments. These new sites have not previously been incorporated into discussions relating to the period, mainly because they lack any obvious material culture.
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Although the number of Neolithic burnt mound sites is small relative to the size of the excavation sample, it does highlight that pyrolithic technology was employed on a small scale during the early farming period in Ireland. Later Mesolithic c.
Early use of pyrolithic technology roasting, steaming for short-term cooking associated with Mesolithic forager groups. Early to Middle Neolithic c. The technol- ogy at this time is possibly connected to communal or family-based ritualised feasting, possibly influenced by multiple strands of immigration from different parts of France into Ireland Sheridan , Late Neolithic c.
Addition of timber linings within trough pits. Chalcolithic c. Associated struc- tures also emerge. Large-scale use of pyrolithic water-boiling becomes widespread across Ireland, with other possible functions developing.
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The use of pyrolithic technology first appears at the end of the fifth millennium BC as a probable indigenous development related to cooking. Within a few centuries external influences brought about the introduction of domesticated animals into Ireland, possibly providing the impetus for new ways of cooking. Over a thousand years there is evidence of large-scale use of the technology for other purposes over the entire island, possibly brought about by influences from a second wave of already established Atlantic contacts of metal- using people. Acknowledgements This article is based on research being carried out as part of a PhD degree at the Department of Archaeology, University College Cork.
I would also like to thank the National Roads Authority, the relevant archaeological companies and excavation directors who supplied information for this study. Finally, I would like to thank the academic editors and the anonymous reviewer for their helpful comments on various aspects of this paper. References Abe, Y.
Anthony, I. Unpublished PhD thesis, University of Glasgow. Barber, J. Buckley ed. Barfield, L. Becker, K. Black, S. Studies in Archeology Texas Archeological Research Laboratory. University of Texas. Bosinski, G. Franz Steiner Verlag GmbH. Brady, N. Bennett ed. Breen, T. Unpublished excavation report prepared for Valerie J. Keeley Ltd. Brindley, A. Brink, J. Bronk Ramsey, C. Buckley, V. Cagney, L and Ginn, V. Unpublished excavation report prepared for Archaeological Consultancy Services Ltd. Cherry, S. Clarke, L. Unpublished excavation report prepared by Archaeological Consultancy Services Ltd.
Cleary, R. Cleary and H. Kelleher eds , Archaeological excavations at Tullahedy, Co. Collins Press.
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Cleary, K. Coles, C. Unpublished report prepared for Archaeological Consultancy Services Ltd. Connolly, M. Connolly, E. Unpublished excavation report prepared for Margaret Gowen and Company Ltd. A landscape perspective.