Archaeologists at Rubicon recently made a unique and intriguing discovery while working on behalf of the National Roads Authority and Kildare County Council on the route of the Athy Link Road. The cremated remains of a human body were discovered in a shallow pit adjacent to the site of a Bronze Age burial mound or barrow. Although this was one of many cremations recovered dating to the Bronze Age along the route of the proposed new road, processing of samples taken from the burial revealed that this was by no means a normal burial. As part of a routine process of sieving soil associated with human burials, technicians from Rubicon identified a series of 25 small ceramic beads. The beads were immediately recognised as being of great significance and passed to a leading expert in prehistoric ceramics who confirmed that the beads belonged to a necklace or bracelet for which he could find no comparison.
Further study into the archaeology associated with the beads produced some intriguing information. Although the fragmentary nature of the cremated bone made analysis very difficult, it was possible to determine that the individual was an adult rather than a child and probably female. A sample of the burnt bone was sent to the Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre where it was subjected to radiocarbon dating. This confirmed that the individual was cremated around 3500 years ago. The burial was one of a group of three that were placed around a burial mound which is likely to have served as a cemetery for the local Bronze Age population.
Research is on-going for this site and over 150 others excavated in advance of the N9/N10 in Counties Kildare and Carlow at the offices of Rubicon Heritage Services Ltd in Cork, and it is hoped that final reports will be complete for all excavations along the route late in 2010.