1973:0001 - BALLYNOE, Antrim

NMI Burial Excavation Records

County: Antrim Site name: BALLYNOE

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

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

Site type: Enclosure

ITM: E 718626m, N 890593m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 54.749330, -6.157326

The earthwork was levelled as part of a farm improvement scheme and had to be excavated before the end of May. The enclosure was sited on a west-facing slope and straddled a shallow natural depression down which water, emanating from a spring 200 yds uphill, gradually seeped. On plan the inner banks formed an irregular ‘quadrangle’ approx 34m across. The banks on the N and S running down the slope curved slightly, and were markedly larger than the cross-slope banks on the E and W. The site thus appeared to have four high corners just over 2m at most above the level of the surrounding land. This inner enclosure was surrounded by a ditch, a smaller bank and (barely traceable) a slight outer ditch all conforming approximately to the somewhat angular outline of the main enclosure.
The interior of the site was almost completely excavated and revealed no trace of occupation nor gave any clue as to the function, if any, of the earthwork. The inner banks of the enclosure had been erected on an unbroken peat surface evidently representing the constantly damp condition of the hollow previously; no peat was found under the outside tail of the bank so it looks very much as though the builders deliberately enclosed a small, locally-boggy patch of ground. The inner face of the bank had originally been clad with a continuous near-vertical ‘skin’ of boulders running to a height of 1m 40 cm at one point; this cladding had collapsed along most of the perimeter and considering the rounded nature of the stones, their comparative smallness and the height to which they had been built it would be unwise to consider this feature as a revetment wall designed to give the earthwork lasting stability. Rather the stones would seem to have been intended to present a neat vertical inner face to the bank. It is clear that in many places the cladding of stones with the clay backing of the bank core must have collapsed inwards fairly rapidly onto the peat surface; the stone facing may not have been intended to be any more than a very temporary feature.
A paved entrance with raised stone kerbs led through the up-slope bank near the S corner but the paving became jumbled and disappeared a short distance into the soft damp interior. The maximum depth of peat in the interior (at the lower N.W. side) was approx. 50cm and although recently disturbed in places there was no evidence that any activity had taken place in the site during or immediately after the erection of the bank. A trial section through the outer defences showed that the main ditch was 1m 70cm deep and the outer bank 1m 20cm high. The ditch was a very broad U-shape in section 51/2m wide and had filled up almost entirely with peat. The outer ditch was 1m 50 wide 1m deep and V-sectioned.
The only finds from the excavation were the sherds of a portion of an 'everted ' rim cooking pot’ found in the topsoil of the N. bank and a few sherds from two plain ‘souterrain ware’ vessels found associated with a semicircle of small boulders (possibly the base of some temporary shelter) built on the inside ‘tail’ of the bank on the S side — it seems that the stone cladding had collapsed and the earthwork eroded almost to its present extent before this material was scattered; the date of the enclosure’s construction is likely therefore to be before the Anglo-Norman period.