Our Work in Ireland

Irish Industrial Landscapes: Current Methodologies and Research Questions

The proliferation of excavations in Ireland over the last few years, have provided the Irish archaeological community and the public-at-large with a plethora of new data regarding metal making and working at all periods. By new data, we refer to both new dates as well as technical information by which to characterise and interpret the materials evidence, the features associated with metal making/working installations, the workshops and their relation to settlements, burial grounds etc.

The elucidation of the metals industry, the subject of archaeometallurgical studies, has relied on the scientific characterisation of metals and metallurgical waste and the furnaces from which they derived. The research agenda has been driven by questions of technology and provenance, while the focal point of the investigation became the artefact, whether raw materials, finished object, or waste (slag).

Since the late 1990's at SASAA, we have developed a methodology for the study of the metals industry which has shifted the emphasis from the artefact to the feature/context. We examine and analyse the context with a similar methodology/ analytical tools as if it were an artefact... i.e., we look at its typology, its “properties” and the chemical make-up of its soils and aggregates. Pivotal to the study of the context is the realisation that there is information to be derived from the technical characterisation of the soils within each context. It refers to the degree of heating they have undergone (magnetic susceptibility) or their phosphate or carbonate content reflecting domestic or other activities.

On SASAA's webpages, we provide guidance for sampling and recording of Irish "industrial sites" of any period and particularly with regards to metal-making and working.

SASAA recommends screening tests and analyses (T&A), which aim to quantitatively characterise relevant and related contexts/features. 

We also recommend industrial waste analyses and metal artifact analyses which can be carried out independently on any materials (e.g. metal, slag, ceramics, etc.) 

Please email us at... enquiries@sasaa.co.uk with your enquiry


SASAA Irish Early Metalworking Case Studies

SASAA has carried out extensive industrial waste and soils analysis on a number of sites. Selected sites are listed below and SASAA projects are indicated on the map.

M4 Kinnegad-Enfield-Kilcock (KEK) Motorway Scheme (Counties Westmeath, Meath and Kildare)


N8 Glanmire-Watergrasshill Road Scheme (County Cork) 


N2 Finglas-Ashbourne Road Scheme (County Meath)


N25 Realignment Scheme

  • Dungeer, Co. Wexford (licence number 00E0475)
  • Bricketstown, Co. Wexford (licence number 00E0476)

M7/M8 Motorway Scheme (County Laois)

  • Derrinsallagh 4 (licence number 05E2180)
  • Curragh 1, Co. Laois, Ireland (licence number 06E2212)
  • Boherard 3, Co. Laois, Ireland (licence number 06E2227)


Carrickmacross-Aclint Realignment Scheme

  • Lisanisk 2, County Monaghan (licence number 03E0890)

M1 Dundalk Western Bypass Motorway Scheme

  • Balriggan 1, Co. Louth (licence number 02E01325)


Sites independent of road schemes

  • Garranes Ring Fort, Co. Cork (licence number 05E629)
  • Stepaside, Kilgobbin, Co. Dublin (licence number 04E1373)
  • Killeen Castle, Co. Meath (licence number 05E0949 ext.)
  • Dun Emer Phase 6, Lusk, Co. Dublin (licence number 05E0848)
  • Kilcohan, Co. Waterford (licence number 05E0151)