Investigating pits in the Irish Mesolithic: a GIS analysis of Mount Sandel

  • Jonathan Small (Presenter)
  • Laura Basell (Contributor)
  • Peter Woodman (Contributor)

Activity: Talk or presentation typesOral presentation


Abstract: The Mesolithic site of Mount Sandel provides evidence for the earliest settlement in Ireland (Woodman, 1985). As well as a number of circular huts, many pit and post-hole features were excavated, of varying size, shape, depth and profile. This paper presents initial results from ongoing research identifying potential uses of these features. Pits/postholes are common features on Mesolithic sites in Ireland, but they have received limited research attention. The Mount Sandel pits have been digitised using ArcGIS, and a variety of attributes have been used to identify differences and relationships between features. The contents and nature of each feature have also been explored. Identifying the function of these pits has important consequences for the characterisation of Mount Sandel as a “base camp”, as described by Woodman (1985). Analysis of these features addresses questions concerning storage, structures, settlement and social organisation, and has important implications for the degree of sedentism in Mesolithic hunter-gatherer communities. The data are used to consider the concept of “place”, and how places become “persistent”, as well as the concept of prehistoric territories. The broader remit of this research includes a multi-isotope analysis of wild boar teeth from Irish Mesolithic sites, assessing their mobility in the landscape, foraging strategies and potential consumption of human food-waste resources. The combined approach of the Mount Sandel storage study and isotope analysis will build a broader picture of Mesolithic subsistence strategies.
Period26 Oct 2018
Event titlePalaeolithic Mesolithic Conference 2018
Event typeConference
LocationLondon, United KingdomShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational