By Peter Gleeson
A 'beautiful' Bronze Age axe and a number of ancient burial grounds have been unearthed near Roscrea during the construction of the new Dublin-Limerick motorway in the area.
The bronze axe was found in Camblin, south of Roscrea. Archaeologists say the find dates to the later Bronze Age and appears to have been hidden in a shallow pit and never recovered by the person who concealed it.
On a second site in Camblin a medieval iron 'bearded' axe was discovered while two Bronze Age enclosed settlements with two ancient houses were found near the N62 Templemore Road.
Three ringforts were also found at Camblin. One of them included a small cemetery dating to the 6th to 7th Century. Archaeologists say the cemetery would have been in use before the Bishops of Roscrea had formalised human burial into consecrated churchyards.
'Burials were all in the Christian manner, although some of the bodies seem to have been more casually interred, such as one where the legs were bent to fit into a small grave The burials included people of all ages and it is likely the site was used for several hundred years,' according to the archaeological report on the motorway route commissioned by the National Roads Authority.
The report said the concentration of ancient sites discovered near the present N62 Templemore Road at Camblin reflected the location of the ancient Roscrea to Cashel routeway.