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Thursday 18 January 2018

Garden dig leads to a grave discovery

The Bronze Age remains discovered by Pat Tiernan during work on an extension to his home in Co Westmeath
The Bronze Age remains discovered by Pat Tiernan during work on an extension to his home in Co Westmeath
Pat Tiernan

Fiona Ellis and Eoghan MacConnell

Pat Tiernan is a keen fan of television's 'Time Team' and amateur archaeology. But he never thought a dig in his back garden would unearth items up to 4,000 years old.

After starting work on an extension to his home in Rickardstown, near Mullingar in Co Westmeath, he was astonished to discover a skeleton and other items.

Pretty soon a team from the National Museum was excavating and evaluating his find which included human remains and a Bronze Age bowl.

Mr Tiernan credited the TV show with helping him identify the find.

The find was made following a recent spell of bad weather at the bungalow in Rickardstown.

Pat explained: " I looked out the window and saw bones protruding out the back and I saw the pot. They looked too big for ordinary animal bones and too small for large animal bones. I kind of clicked it because I was used to looking at a bit of 'Time Team'," he said.

Since a visit to Newgrange, Mr Tiernan had developed an interest in ancient Irish art and archaeology. "It is funny that I should find this being so into the Celtic stuff for so long," he said.

A team from the National Museum of Ireland described the find as "significant". "They reckon it is between 4,000-4,500 years old," Mr Tiernan said.

Assistant keeper at the museum, Padraig Clancy, went to the site with colleagues Andy Halpin and Carol Smith. Mr Clancy said it has yet to be determined whether the Bronze-Age remains were male or female. "The very interesting thing about Rickardstown is a similar bowl was found by a Mr Thomas O'Farrell in the 1940s at a quarry," he revealed. "This find fits the Bronze Age burial tradition which were often isolated burials."

He also thanked Pat for his quick thinking. "Due to his prompt recognition of it, it did save the bulk of the vessel."

The finds will be analysed and preserved at the museum.

Irish Independent

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