1972:0012 - GRANSHA, Down

NMI Burial Excavation Records

County: Down Site name: GRANSHA

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

Author: Mr. C.J. Lynn, Historic Monuments Branch, Ministry of Finance

Site type: Early Christian Settlement

ITM: E 753019m, N 876895m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 54.617079, -5.630719

The mound, 22ft high and 7Oft on average across the flat summit, lies 3/4 of a mile south of Six—Road—Ends, Co. Down. There was no sign of an encircling ditch or bailey but the site was skirted on the west by a small stream and it is possible that in the past it was surrounded by ill-drained marshy land. The mound was thought to have been a motte. Recent quarrying had left a crumbling vertical section across one side of the mound in which it was possible to see that its core was natural gravel but also that two ‘occupation layers’ had accumulated over this natural hillock prior to its final re-modelling.

One quadrant of the artificial deposits – laid out to include the damaged section — was excavated completely plus a further area of the flat top: initially a shallow ditch, lm 50cm wide had been cut a little way down the slope of the natural hill. Immediately up-slope of this ditch some timber or brushwood strtlcture had burned, resulting in the discovery of a ring of burnt soil and charcoal encircling the hill (where examined). The fill of the ditch produced, in close proximity, a large portion of an ‘E—ware’ cooking pot and a bronze zoomorphic penannular brooch with roundels of nine squares of millefiori glass in the terminals and cups, presumably to hold enamel, representing the “ears” and “snout”. No other structures or artefacts could be recognised as belonging to this phase.

A dense layer of occupation deposits then covered the entire site, the dark soil interleaved with lenses of clean clay and ‘ash’. Very little evidence for standing structures was forthcoming but there were several hearths and numerous finds of badly decayed animal bones. The layer also produced souterrain ware, many ‘polishing’ and Irubbingi stones, hones, perforated slate discs and over 30 very roughly—executed slate trial-piece fragments.

The mound was artificially heightened and given its platform-shape by the addition of a dump of gravel and clay ranging in depth from 70cm at the centre or hill-top to over 2m down-slope at the edges of the platform. The flat platform appeared to have been surrounded by a fence or palisade. Thirty large pits, generally steep-sided with flat bottoms were found -distributed apparently at random — some were over 120cm deep but the average was 8Ocm and some penetrated the surface of the underlying second-phase occupation layer. The purpose of these pits is not clear. Finds from this final phase include a small barrel—padlock, an iron strike—a—light, two iron knives, a green and white herringbone—pattern bead, two bronze ring—pins, fragments of 3 lignite bracelets and a considerable quantity of souterrain ware, many sherds with plain cordons. No indisputably ‘Anglo-Norman period’ find was made.

The quarrying operations have now been halted and the cuttings and sections filled, revetted and grassed over.