N25 New Ross Bypass: A Neolithic Settlement in Ryleen, Co. Wexford
The excavation at Ryleen, undertaken on behalf of the National Roads Authority (now Transport Infrastructure Ireland - TII) and Wexford County Council, revealed the footprint of an Early Neolithic house with internal divisions characteristic of the homes of early farmers found elsewhere in Ireland. This house was represented by a rectilinear northwest–southeast foundation trench (8.50 m by 6.25 m) with rounded corners and a northwestern entrance. The presence of postholes and packing stones in parts of the foundation trench implies the construction of the house was from a combination of split oak planks, posts, and wattle. Fragments of daub-like clay material was recovered from the upper levels of the foundation trench, suggest that the building was plastered with a mixture of wet clay and organic material that would have protected and insulated the building. No evidence for the method of roof construction was found, but this could have been thatched or covered in hide. An internal wall formed by two lateral slot trenches and a central pair of postholes divided the house in half. Early Neolithic pottery, lithics, a polished stone axe and cereal grains were all recovered from the features associated with this building. All of the radiocarbon determinations obtained from samples of charred hazelnut shell were broadly contemporary, ranging from 3710–3520 BC.