• 14C Dating of a Neolithic Field System at Céide Fields, County Mayo, Ireland

      Caulfield, Seamas; O'Donnell, R. G.; Mitchell, P. I. (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 1998-01-01)
      Ceide Fields is a 12 km2 Neolithic field system in North Mayo in the west of Ireland. The fields, enclosed by an integrated system of stone walls, have been preserved intact by a cover of blanket bog that is >4 m deep in places. At many locations within this blanket bog the stumps of ancient pines (Pinus sylvestris) are found in situ. The pine roots in most cases are either on the surface of the mineral soil under the peat or at an intermediate level in the peat itself. The age of the trees in the bog overlying Ceide Fields is therefore of great significance for the dating of the fields, as the trees must be younger than the bog in which they are growing, which in turn must be younger than the field system beneath it. We present here the dates (N = 15) for pine trees from the bogs overlying Ceide Fields and the dates (N = 29) of pine trees from other areas of the North Mayo blanket bog. We compare these pine dates with published dates of peat associated with a major pollen analytical study from within the fields and with published dates for bog pine from Scotland. The results of the study suggest that the dates for the construction and period of use of Ceide Fields and other Neolithic pre-bog field systems in North Mayo are older than anticipated and that the date for initiation of blanket bog in many parts of North Mayo is also older than previously estimated. Further, the range of dates of the pine stumps indicates a synchronic event contemporary with a similar phenomenon observed in Scotland.