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Matthew W. Rowe (Carlow)
Sepulchral fictile Vessel, found at Ballybit, in the county of Cory
Journal of the Kilkenny and South-East of Ireland Archaeological Society, Volume IV, Part I, New Series, 1862 p.12-13.
Mr. R. Malcomeon, Carlow, sent a well-executed photograph of an ancient fictile vessel, found at Ballybit, Lisnevagh, county Carlow; it was accompanied by the following communication, addressed to the Rev. James Graves:
"I send you a photographic representation of an ancient fictile vessel, recently discovered on the lands of Ballybit, in the barony of Rathvilly, in this county, part of the estate of Colonel Kane Bunbury, of Moyle. The photograph was taken by Mr. Matthew W. Rowe, of this town (Carlow). I also send a cutting from the 'Carlow Sentinel' newspaper, of the 23rd of November, 1861, containing an accurate description of the discovery, from the pen of the late talented editor and proprietor of that journal, Thomas H. Carroll, Esq. (an esteemed Member of the Society), to which a melancholy interest is attached, as being probably the very last emanation of his pen; for, before the number of the journal which contained the brief sketch of the urn went to press, the writer had been suddenly taken away by an attack of apoplexy. There is a peculiarity about the ornamentation of this vessel, which it may be well to remark. In the accompanying plate, engraved from a photograph, a kind of criss-cross scoring is shown: the other side of the antique is ornamented in a more regular and careful manner, by a series of chevron markings, of which the ends appear overlapping at each side of our engraving. Finding that he had not space for another set of chevrons, the potter, with his sharp stick, rudely crossed in the marks we have engraved. This example serves to show the danger of ascribing fictile vessels of a rude character to an earlier period than those more regularly ornamented, as here we have an example of both kinds of ornaments on the same vessel. The height of the original is 5 inches; greatest circumference, 16 inches; circumference at mouth, 13 1/2 inches; at base, 7 inches; weight, 23 3/4 ounces. As intimated in the notice, the vessel has been presented by Mr. Lynch to Colonel Bunbury, by whom it is greatly prized; and by whom, no doubt, it will be carefully preserved for the information of those curious in such matters. The following is Mr. Carroll's account of the discovery:
" 'On Tuesday last, while Thomas Eddy (known in this county as "the Cornish Miner") was engaged by Mr. Joseph F. Lynch, builder, cleaving stones at Ballybit, on the estate of Colonel Bunbury, he discovered, under a granite boulder, weighing nearly two tons, a cinerary urn, in a state of perfect preservation, about four feet from the surface. It resembles, in shape, the frustum of a cone, accurate in its proportions. It stands on a flat stern or base, two inches in width, presenting the appearance of an elegantly formed bowl, with three projecting ribs upon the extreme surface. It is covered with curvilinear and vertical scorings, displaying, as a whole, a curious and elaborate specimen of ancient pottery older, if not contemporaneous with the earliest discovered remains of Etruscan Art. It has no flange, like those discovered in 1853 at Ballon Hill, engravings of which may be seen on reference to [the "Transactions" of] the Kilkenny Archaeological Society [vol. ii. P. 200, first series]. It stands six inches in height; its circumference at the top is fifteen inches; but we have no evidence to show, when discovered, that its contents indicated the result of a process of cremation, although, when the interior was examined with a microscope, it appears that some fine ashes were encrusted on the bottom of the urn. It was formed of the best brick clay, moulded by the hand, and then properly baked; and it is now as sound and fresh in its appearance (without a flaw) as it was when it left the hands of the ancient Celtic potter possibly two thousand years ago. It is intended by Mr. Lynch to present it to the landlord, Colonel Bunbury. In the neighbourhood of Ballybit, and on the same estate, may be seen a cromlech, of hexagonal form, rudely carved at the top. It was noticed, together with the cromlech at Browne's Hill, some sixty years since, by the celebrated Captain Grose, in the Antiquities, and is worthy of a visit. We cannot avoid stating, that the students of primaeval antiquity should be thankful to such men as Eddy for the careful preservation of such ancient remains of Celtic Art, as they tend to throw a light on the domestic history of the ancient inhabitants of Ireland. ' "