1973:0026 - BELDERGBEG, Mayo

NMI Burial Excavation Records

County: Mayo Site name: BELDERGBEG

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

Author: S. Caulfield, Dept of Archaeology, University College, Cork.

Site type: Prehistoric Settlement and Field Systems

ITM: E 498173m, N 841004m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 54.307625, -9.564708

The excavation this season concentrated on the circular “house” and the tillage plot with ridges and plough marks. It was hoped to complete the excavation of the house but continuous wet weather made this impossible. However, peat stripping of the tillage area was carried out on a more extensive scale than had been originally planned.
The plough marks have now been traced in an area 24m x 16m. The extent of the ridges discovered last year was defined on three sides (the road prohibits excavation on the fourth side) and three other contiguous tillage plots have been found. One plot does not have ridges, the second has ridges parallel to those first discovered, and the third has ridges at right angles to these.

Excavation in the house revealed an internal wall trench and a concentric ring of postholes approximately 1 .5m inside this trench and 2m apart. Other postholes and some stone filled pits were found, in particular in the SE quadrant. In one of the pits small flecks of bone survived. Two further saddle querns and portions of three rubbers and a polished stone disc were the only finds from within this structure.
Some new evidence of the second period of habitation on the site came to light. The second period wall built on peat with stones robbed from the earlier pre-bog wall terminated after running approximately 70m to the south but the oak posts associated with the final 40m of this wall continued on independently for at least a further 5Om into the deep bog. (Are the pointed stakes so commonly found in bogs simply some form of fencing as they certainly are in this case?). The other structural evidence of second period occupation, a late trench with the upcast thrown on to approximately 10cm of bog was located at another part of the site 40m from where it was first discovered. Close by but not directly related to it sherds of a broken pottery vessel were found. This pottery vessel with flat rim and body ornament is totally different to that previously found. Up until the discovery of this pottery none of the archaeological objects could be definitely isolated into groups to tie in with the clearly differentiated structural features as all the material could be Neolithic in date. This new pottery differing in form, grit and decoration should eventually prove of value in the cultural identification of the second occupation. The occupation of what was obviously a poor agricultural site when the site was already covered by bog is difficult to explain if this happened in Neolithic times. But if this second occupation was in Bronze Age times no explanation is required as the rich vein of copper ore in the cliff face 1 mile to the NW could be sufficient reason for these people to occupy such a poor agricultural site. The wedge tomb three-quarters of a mile east of the site already points to the presence of Bronze Age people in Belderrig valley.
It is hoped to continue the excavation in the 1974 season.
Site 26 Appendix.
7 Radiocarbon determinations for the site have been provided by the Smithsonian
Institute. Five samples of wood from the site suggest that the 1st pre-bog occupation
is earlier than the mid—3rd Millennium BC and that the 2nd occupation is of Mid—2nd
Millennium BC date.
1. Pine stump near pre bog wall at S. end of site
2. Oak stump at SE end of site
3. Pointed oak post from late wall
4. Pointed stake from late wall
5. Burnt block of wood from round house
4290t95 BP
3835 Li 85 BP
3220 Li 85 BP

Two charcoal samples yielded dates inconsistent with the archaeological evidence
6. Charcoal from wall trench within round house
7. Charcoal from area which produced number of flint scrapers