Lagavooren timber circle

A multi-phase site at Lagavooren, Co. Meath, was discovered during road construction and was excavated by Emmet Stafford on behalf of IAC Archaeology. Located less than 5km from the monumental complex at Brú na Bóinne, the site was on a ridge, with extensive views of the surrounding countryside, including a clear view of a promontory at Platin to the south.

The archaeology found at Lagavooren included a Grooved Ware timber circle. This comprised a group of 23 postholes, outlining an area with an internal diameter of c. 5.7m (external diameter c. 7m). The entrance to the circle, located on the southeastern side, was accompanied by a possible porch defined by additional pits/postholes. At least 13 of the postholes showed evidence of post-packing material, and post-pipes (a deposit forming in the void left by a post that rotted in situ, or a post that was withdrawn). The postpipes were not visible in all postholes, but a number suggested the intentional removal of posts, perhaps during a phase of decommissioning or dismantling. In a number of postholes, the holes left by withdrawn posts were filled with artefact rich deposits.

Lagavooren timber circle after excavation, taken from the south-west (Image courtesy of IAC Archaeology)

There was an internal four-post setting within the timber circle, defined by four large postholes. These were roughly square in plan and were found very close to the postholes of the outer circle. This configuration of a ‘square setting’ of posts within a timber circle is an interesting feature which appears in other timber circles dating to this period (for example, the timber circle found nearby at Knowth in the Brú na Bóinne complex) , and smaller ‘Grooved Ware’ structures (such as those at Balgatheran, and Wyke Down). Human bone and an axehead were found in one of these internal postholes at Lagavooren, located just within the entrance.

A large quantity of artefacts, particularly lithics and pottery, were recovered from both the post-packing material and from within the postpipes associated with the timber circle. At least nine Grooved Ware vessels were found, with sherds from a single vessel often found associated with more than one post. This is a feature of deposition at other timber circles, including at Knowth. It seems that there was a ritualized aspect to the collection and deposition of midden material (incorporating old pottery sherds and lithics) in postholes and postpipes at timber circles.

There was evidence for other activity at the site, including a cluster of pits where Carinated Bowl pottery (this type is usually dated to the early neolithic in the first half of the 4th millennium), as well as extensive evidence for later activity in the bronze age (including a circular structure) and smelting hearths dated to the iron age.


The Grooved Ware assemblage from Lagavooren represented at least 13 vessels, many of which had carbonised residues on their internal surfaces. This indicates that they were once used for cooking. Many of the sherds were weathered and must have been re-deposited when they were incorperated into the packing material or postpipes in the timber circle.     

More than 1000 lithic artefacts were found during excavation at the site, including worked flint, chert, quartz and quartz crystal. Many of these were associated with the re-deposited midden material that was deposited at the timber circle. 

Further reading

Stafford, E. (2012) Archaeological excavation report, 00E0914 Lagavooren 7, County Meath. [Unpublished excavation report. IAC Archaeology.] IAC Archaeology, Transport Infrastructure Ireland and Digital Repository of Ireland 

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