Wow: Kilkenny men discover prehistoric enclosure in Paulstown field using drone

Drought reveals hidden crop marks in tillage field in Duninga

Sam Matthews


Sam Matthews


Kilkenny drone men discover prehistoric enclosure in Paulstown field

Brian Dwyer took this picture with his DJI Mavic drone over the field in Duninga

Two keen photographers have discovered a previously-unknown monument beneath a tillage field in Duninga, near Paulstown.

James Burke and his nephew Brian Dwyer were taking advantage of the recent drought conditions to explore the area close to James' house with a drone. The pair were delighted to find a the structure, revealed as a crop mark, in a cornfield near the River Barrow.

The Barrow Valley has been home to people for thousands of years, and James had been aware that there is another known enclosure nearby.

"Where there's one, there are generally more," he told the Kilkenny People.

An aerial view of the enclosure marked in the crops, bottom right

"We knew it was a unique time to find things. If you look on Google Maps, there is nothing visible, but because it was so dry and the crops are there, the ditches hold more moisture."

The moisture in the ditch leads to deeper roots in crops, which showed up from above as a dark circle, with distinct entrance. As the drought eases and crops are harvested, the visible marks will eventually vanish.

The duo reported their find to the Archaeological Survey of Ireland, and it has now been officially confirmed as a new discovery on the database.

"Thank you so much for contacting the National Monuments Service re the newly identified monument in Duninga," wrote back archaeologist Jean Farrelly.

"The cropmark defines an enclosure which has not previously been known about. It does not appear on any of the editions of the Ordnance Survey maps and it has not been identified on other aerial photographs. I have entered this as a new monument into the Sites and Monuments Record under the record number KK021-049."

The entry reads: 'A circular enclosure (diam. c. 20m) defined by a fosse with a break in the fosse in the NE quadrant probably indicating the entrance. An upstanding field boundary runs roughly E-W immediately S of the enclosure. Another enclosure (KK021-048) is located c. 220m to the NNE.'

Photography enthusiasts Brian Dwyer and James Burke

James lives in Duninga, and chef and licensed drone pilot Brian now lives in Dortmund, Germany. He was back here on holiday in Kilkenny when he made the discovery with his DJI Mavic drone. The pair say they plan to use the drone to discover more ancient Irish monuments in the future.

The find also follows on from another significant archaeological discovery in Ireland during the recent drought conditions.