2004:1201 - TESTING AREA 12, CASTLETOWN TARA/ PHILPOTSTOWN, Meath

NMI Burial Excavation Records

County: Meath Site name: TESTING AREA 12, CASTLETOWN TARA/ PHILPOTSTOWN

Sites and Monuments Record No.: N/A Licence number: 04E0429

Author: Paul Stevens, c/o Archaeological Consultancy Services Ltd, 2 Boyne Business Park, Drogheda, Co. Louth.

Site type: Various

ITM: E 691231m, N 761870m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 53.598737, -6.621694

Sixty-seven test-trenches were excavated in Testing Area 12, within Castletown Tara and Philpotstown townlands, for Contract 2 of the archaeological assessment of the proposed M3 Clonee-North of Kells motorway PPP scheme. The test area is situated beside and extending west of the existing N3 Navan-Dunshaughlin road just south of the Garlow crossroads. The proposed development at this site is a 900m-long stretch of dual carriageway leading to an interchange with the N3 Navan-Dunshaughlin road, continuing as Testing Area 13 west of the road and east as Testing Area 11.

Work was undertaken with the assistance of Ed Danaher, Steve Linnane, Martin Dier, Orlaith Lenihan, Lydia Cagney and Tamlyn O’Driscoll from 29 March to 8 April 2004. Trenches were excavated by mechanical excavator. A total of 4988 linear metres or 9976m2 was excavated. This accounted for 11% of the total surface of Testing Area 12. The area was assessed by a centre-line trench with 60 perpendicular offset trenches excavated along the width of the proposed motorway at 20m intervals across the full width of the road-take, as well as additional trenches alongside rivers and other features.

A number of features representing four archaeological sites and one architectural site were revealed. These included cremation pits, post-holes, ditches and a burnt mound, and the site of a 19th-century school, detailed below.

Castletown Tara 1 consisted of two intercutting linear ditches and two small pit features, both containing small fragments of possibly cremated human bone but no other artefacts. The site was revealed in Trench B6 over an area of 17m.

Castletown Tara 2 consisted of two linear alignments of small pit features and a slot, and oneexcavated pit containing small fragments of possibly cremated human bone but no other artefacts. The remainder of the features remained unexcavated. The site was revealed in Trench B11 over an area of 5m in length by 4m in width opened around these features. However, the site appeared to continue into the baulk and under the existing N3 road.

Castletown Tara 3 spread over an area measuring roughly 18m square and represented a complex of intercutting linear ditches, stone-lined features, hearths, pits and post-hole features located at the crest of a small hill. No datable artefacts were found, although faunal material was common. Three test-trenches (Trench D2, D8 and D9), positioned 20m apart, and three extra perpendicular trenches (Trench I-III) were opened at 9m intervals around this site.

Philpotstown 2 represented an intermittent spread of burnt-mound material and peat lying on natural gravels, clay and peat. No artefacts were revealed in excavation, but one small animal bone fragment was recovered. The site was exposed in Trench E1 over an area of 12m by 5m.

Philpotstown 3 (Dillon’s Bridge School) consisted of an early modern building (built 1860, demolished in 1957) shown on the second- and third-edition OS maps. The building was revealed in Trench E2 as a stone-and-brick rubble spread, with surface visible remains and masonry wall in place of hedgerow along the existing road. A signpost was erected in recent times at the side of the road.