Saturday 24 March 2018

Vinegar Hill finds are 'most impressive ever uncovered'

Archaeologist Sam Wilson during the survey
Archaeologist Sam Wilson during the survey
A flintlock hammer recovered from the hill

Pádraig Byrne

One of the archaeological firms behind the excavations and research at Enniscorthy's historic Vinegar Hill during the summer has labelled their findings as 'the most impressive yet uncovered on a battlefield in the Republic of Ireland'.

The claim was made by archaeology firm Rubicon Heritage who took part in licensed surveys over two week-long phases in May and August. Official findings from the investigation was supposed to be presented at the meeting of Enniscorthy Municipal District Council in December, however, it was opted to postpone this until the New Year. However, in the meantime, Rubicon Heritage has said that the project is an extremely exciting one with analysis ongoing all the time.

'The results were extremely significant,' the company said. 'Although we uncovered signs of damage that has taken place at the site as a result of both developmental pressures and almost certainly by illegal metal detection, our most significant finding was intense evidence for combat on June 21, 1798.

'In fact, archaeological results are the most impressive yet uncovered on a battlefield in the Republic of Ireland.'

The majority of material found was said to have related to fighting between United Irishmen and the Crown column led by General Dundas, who was accompanied in the field by General Lake.

'The methodological approach and scientific recording techniques that the licensed survey employed means that we can identify potential firing lines, with dozens of both fired and unfired bullets providing indications of the approximate areas were troops may have been standing during combat,' the company's initial report said. 'Many of these bullets show evidence of having been fired at extremely close range.

As well as the small projectiles, the survey also produced evidence for the artillery bombardment launched by the Crown artillery to 'soften up' their target, and the use of close-artillery support during the fighting itself, in the form of anti-personnel 'grapeshot'. Weapon fragments bore testament to the intensity of activity, while various personal objects and non-military items bear testament to the presence of the United Irish encampment.'

Further findings are to be presented at the next council meeting.

Enniscorthy Guardian