1989:079 - Correen Ford, Correenbeg, Roscommon

NMI Burial Excavation Records

County: Roscommon Site name: Correen Ford, Correenbeg

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

Author: Eamonn P. Kelly, National Museum of Ireland, Dublin.

Site type: Ford

ITM: E 590053m, N 725629m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 53.280886, -8.149156

In 1988 the National Museum became aware of proposed dredging work to be conducted by the Office of Public Works on the River Suck. This would have interfered with a number of sites of known potential archaeological interest. A decision was taken to investigate these locations underwater, in advance of dredging. Two sites, at Correenbeg and Creggan (No. 80 below), were involved in the 1989 programme. The most important of these was Correen Ford, from which site the National Museum already possessed a quantity of tools and weapons found both accidentally and in the course of illegal searches. These items range in date from the Early Bronze Age to Medieval times. Historically, Correen Ford is associated with the Battle of Aughrim, fought in 1691.The SiteThe ford is formed at a point where the river crosses an esker ridge. The ridge causes the river to turn and broaden forming extensive shallows, as well as providing excellent access to and from the river on either side. A number of eel weirs which were constructed across the ford, in former times, have resulted in the build-up of silt and the creation of an island.It was recognised that the stratigraphical position of objects lying on or in the river bed was unlikely to be of significance though their spatial relationship might be. It was determined to search the area to be dredged using a team of divers and to record the findplaces of anything uncovered. The site was also to be extensively surveyed. To undertake the work a team was assembled consisting of National Museum and Office of Public Works personnel, a contract archaeologist and a team of divers from Athlone Subaqua Club. The divers had previously assisted the National Museum in underwater projects and had undergone training courses in underwater archaeology, jointly run by the National Museum and CFT (Irish Underwater Council). Preliminary work was undertaken during March 1989 and the main investigation took place over a 2 and a half week period in August-September 1989.A large range of objects was recovered and the military character of much of this bore out the strategic nature of the ford. The oldest item was a Late Bronze Age sword which was found close to a portion of a pottery vessel, perhaps of the same age. Other finds included a ploughshare and iron spearhead, both of early medieval date, and a Viking battle axe. The later medieval period was represented by a woodworker’s axe, a halberd, an iron arrowhead and some iron knives. A bayonet, musket balls, coins and military buttons from the 18th century were also recovered. Also found was a large worked oak timber of uncertain function. A quantity of animal bones was also recovered.On the Roscommon bank an earthwork known locally as ‘the Soldiers Grave’ was surveyed. It is possibly the remains of a defensive structure protecting the ford. A possible enclosing earthwork was also surveyed on the Galway bank.