1989:071 - 'Céide Fields', Glenulra, Mayo

NMI Burial Excavation Records

County: Mayo Site name: 'Céide Fields', Glenulra

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

Author: Gretta Byrne, Ballybrack, Hacketstown, Co. Carlow.

Site type: Neolithic field system

ITM: E 505072m, N 840804m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 54.307157, -9.458678

The excavation took place over a period of five weeks on the site of the proposed Céide Fields Interpretative Centre, to establish whether there was any archaeological material in the area which would be disturbed during development. The site is within the extensive Neolithic pre-bog field system of Céide, about 250m to the north-east of the Behy court tomb and just north of the Glenulra enclosure excavated by Dr Seamas Caulfield.The excavated area was bounded on the north and west by field walls and was entirely covered by a depth of 0.3m-0.9m of cutover peat with uncut banks nearby up to 2m deep. Three sections across these field walls were uncovered which revealed collapsed loose stone walls between 2m and 3m in width and up to 0.6m in present height, built on the sub-peat mineral surface.The main discovery was a concentration of features predating the growth of peat and located at a distance of 25m from the nearest field wall. A number of rough stone slabs, up to 0.65m in dimensions and varying in thickness from about 0.03m – 0.lm, were laid haphazardly on the mineral soil surface in an area 5m by 3m. Some of these were broken or cracked in situ although they do not form any definite pattern, nor do they form an even surface or show any signs of wear. Over the same area there was a layer of grey-brown silty, charcoal-rich, soil which contained eight flint flakes, four hammerstones and some struck quartz.Within this same area there was a spread of burnt organic material over an area of at least 1m by 0.8m which was completely covered by a thin deposit of mineral soil. Immediately to the south-east of that there was a pit at least 0.3m deep filled with yellow ash and charcoal and covered by a single flat thin slab. Just further to the south a narrow trench extended to the south-east for a distance of 1.1m. This trench varied in width from 0. l5m-0.35m and was partly overlain by thin slabs which in one place covered three tightly packed, water-rounded stones. A similar trench aligned north-east-south-west was partly exposed less than a metre to the east and south-east of the first trench.The limit of this group of features was defined in all directions, except towards the east where it is not known how much further they extend. None of the exposed features were completely excavated as there was insufficient time, so it is difficult to offer a complete interpretation.However, they would seem to be Neolithic in date and represent some sort of habitational structure, with the stone slabs possibly part of a disturbed paving or flooring. The trenches may be wall slots, and the ashpit and the occupation debris would indicate domestic activity. The relationship of this activity, both chronological and functional, to the field system and to the Glenulra enclosure also remains to be established.