1985:05 - Deer Park Farms, Antrim

NMI Burial Excavation Records

County: Antrim Site name: Deer Park Farms

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

Author: Chris Lynn, Historic Monuments Branch, DOE

Site type: Raised rath

ITM: E 728724m, N 908789m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 54.910233, -5.992479

The excavated site was a platform-type or raised rath some 25m. in diameter across the flattish summit. The mound was deeply stratified and contained several distinct major occupation horizons of which only the uppermost (reported on in 1984) and the penultimate (the latter incompletely) have been explored.

The summit of the mound had been occupied in the Early Christian period but apart from the truncated remains of two souterrains no structures of this final phase survived. A layer of dumped, sterile, gravelly clay, 50cm. to 2m. deep, was removed, revealing, early in the 1985 season, the undisturbed surface of the penultimate phase occupation layers of the raised rath, which had a perimeter bank with low internal drystone revetment wall. In the E. sector, the latter turned outwards to flank a slight passageway, c. 2m. wide and delimited by low parallel walls of boulders running down from the summit. Two pairs of large post-holes found near the inner end of the entrance presumably mark the site of a gate or gates. Beyond the edge of the mound itself the approach ramp crossed the ditch via a clay causeway, the upper, inward part of which at least must have been deliberately built up.

Before excavation small patches of loose stones were visible in the sides of the mound, particularly on the SW. On the excavation of a ditch section on the SE., uphill, side of the mound the base of a massive revetment wall of basalt boulders, 60cm. long on average, was encountered at the bottom of the mound. The wall was battered inward slightly and behind it were packed many small stones indicating that the main wall face must have stood more than 3m., and more likely 4m., high. The small boulders observed outcropping elsewhere around the slopes of the mound are presumably eroding patches of the packing behind the collapsed outer skin of the wall. This substantial wall probably encircled the base of the mound completely and must have given the site the external appearance of a large stone fort. It is hoped that next seasons excavation will indicate at what point in the sequence of the mound’s interior occupation layers the wall was built.

The entrance emerged in the interior of the raised rath at what always seems to have been an open area in the lowest part of the enclosure. A series of cobbled surfaces, each with clear indications of a central much-used path, spread upwards into what is now our N. quadrant towards those areas of the interior where evidence for occupation has been most intense.

To date, twenty -one structures in the penultimate phase layer-complex of the mound have been exposed in the interior. Full evaluation of these remains, most of which are not fully excavated, must await a further season of excavation. It is possible that as many more buildings, sealed under a thick layer of clean greyish gravelly clay, remain to be discovered at deeper levels in the mound. (A sketch plan and summary of the interior structures so far exposed is included in I.A.P.A. Newsletter No. 3, Spring 1986).