The unique archaeological significance of The Phoenix Park is that its landscape has remained in continuous pasture for so long.As broad swathes of the park have been retained as open pasture, previously unrecorded monuments, or the vestigial remains of identified monuments may survive to be rediscovered just under the sod.The Park is home to several monuments of archaeological importance including cemetery mounds, enclosures, dwelling sites, wells, a tower house, star shaped fortifications, magazine fort, etc.
Prior to its enclosure as a deerpark, The Phoenix Park was an occupied landscape.
People lived here, worked here, moved through and across the park, died and were buried here.
From the Neolithic period onwards, from about 5,500 years ago, signs of human activity are notable on the narrow, high strip of land which forms the southern edge to the Phoenix Park between Knockmaroon and Islandbridge.
Ancient peoples may have been drawn to the commanding position of lands overlooking the River Liffey and to the panoramic views across the river valley to the Dublin mountains.
Evidence for Neolithic and Bronze Age populations is illustrated by the construction and usage of a cemetery mound known as “Knockmary” deriving its name from “Cnoc-Maraidhe” meaning the hill of the mariners.
This mound was located in Chapelizod townland, to the west of St Mary’s Hospital.
Originally it measured 40m in overall width and was up to 3m in height.
Excavation of the mound, revealed a central cist comprising five upright stones supporting a large capstone.
The cist is the only element of the mound which survives today.
It contained at least three individuals inhumations (unburnt burial), all male, one of which was incomplete.
The grave goods buried with these men include a shell necklace, a bone toggle and a flint blade.