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Kilcolman cave - First season April 2023

Our first season at Kilcolman cave, Co. Cork, Ireland was completed during the first two weeks of April 2023. Led by Dr Richard Jennings, Liverpool John Moores University, UK with co-principal investigators, Dr Ruth Carden and Dr Helen Lewis both of UCD School of Archaeology, Dublin, Ireland. This excavation was funded by the Royal Irish Academy.

We are very grateful to the landowner and his family for access and permission to excavate this cave, Mr Charles Harold Barry. Charles was very supportive and hugely intrested and visited with us almost daily. Excellent to have such great support and to have a warm welcome from him, his family and the community.

We also were joined by Phil Kenny, our lead cave archaeologist, and two experienced archaeologists from England and three undergraduate students of Richards looking to gain in-field archaeological excavation experience.

The weather was mixed, but in general overall good and the excavation got underway once health and safety procedures were discussed with on site members of the Cork Speleological Group, whom we work with and collaborate with closely.

Base camp was set up by members of the Cork Speleological Group and Phil and so the coffee was brewed, lunch was had and we got to it. Regular fly-bys by a pair of greylag geese every morning and afternoon was lovely to hear, with their gentle wing beats and calls.

We had some visitors to the site, including the local Conservation Ranger from the National Parks and Wildlife Service, Claire Deasy, which was great as she has so much useful local knowledge of the area.

While this cave did not yield, as yet, any ancient bone deposits, it did give you information on how it was formed, as interpreted by our visiting collaborator and cave geologist, Dr Mike Simms, from National Museums of Northern Ireland. He will be writing a detailed report on the formation processes and these will help us, along with other data gathered inform on the melt water and processes before, during and post ice sheet that formed during the last Ice Age.

Other selected photos from our excavations follow, while we deal with post-excavation analysis and report writing.

All photographs (C) Ruth Carden

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