1977-79:0069 - Altanagh, Tyrone

NMI Burial Excavation Records

County: Tyrone Site name: Altanagh

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

Author: B.B. Williams, Dept. of the Environment

Site type: Prehistoric Burial Site

ITM: E 668337m, N 884094m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 54.700306, -6.939812

A round mound 35m. in diameter and 0.75m. high, rather like a platform rath in appearance, had 3 perimeter kerbstones and a central orthostat. Unauthorised digging by a school group in 1977 opened a substantial area around the orthostat and to the south of the centre. The finds from this dig are mostly Neolithic and include fragments of at least 14 pottery vessels, with plain, Ballyalton, and Sandhills bowls. Numerous artefacts recovered included projectiles and domestic implements. Secondary activity was suggested by two Early Bronze Age burials, one accompanied by a food vessel, the second by a fragment of a perforated bone pin.
Excavations were undertaken in 1979 in the previously disturbed area to try and recover contextual information, the central orthostat was found to be a sidestone of a gallery aligned north-south. A second sidestone had fallen, but a socket remained indicating its original position. Between these two stones a socket set around with boulders is indicative of segmentation, dividing the gallery into two chambers. Two pits at the south end (emptied in 1977) may represent stone sockets. Similarily, a long rectangular pit on the east side (again emptied in 1977) almost certainly represents a socket for a side-stone. A pit at the north end still contained some original fill and may represent a socket for a back-stone. Two small oval pits were found within the gallery, one containing a leaf-shaped arrowhead. Only a small area of chamber deposit remained intact close to the central orthostat. This was found to contain a crushed plain neolithic bowl. Charcoal accompanying this deposit provided a radiocarbon date of 3810±120 b.p.
It is clear that the site saw much activity with many intrusive features dotted over its surface, one in the SE. quadrant containing a food vessel. In the southern area of the same quadrant an extensive area of charcoal and pits was accompanied by iron objects, slag, and a fine decorated bronze object which has been tentatively ascribed to the Early Iron Age.