1990:113 - Marlinstown, Westmeath

NMI Burial Excavation Records

County: Westmeath Site name: Marlinstown

Sites and Monuments Record No.: SMR 19:66 Licence number:

Author: Valerie J. Keeley, 29/30 Duke Street., Athy, Co. Kildare.

Site type: Ringfort

ITM: E 646241m, N 752723m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 53.522434, -7.302670

Investigation was recommended at the site as construction of the proposed Mullingar By-Pass is scheduled to cut through the monument, destroying the eastern area of the structure. Prior to excavation the site was defined by an oval shaped bank atop a natural glacial knoll. It measured 52m in length and 46m in width. The degree of preservation of the bank varied around its circumference. The excavation revealed a complex monument as defined by a bank surrounded by an outer ditch and with evidence of an interior ditch. These and the discovery of a human skeleton and several pits during the investigation phase led to a four week excavation of the site. A further five burials were uncovered at this time and the already exposed features were excavated. The bank measured lm in maximum height. It was composed of a mixture of boulder clay with inclusions of charcoal and fragmentary animal bone. An outer ditch surrounded the bank; this attained a depth of l.8m and a maximum width of 2m. The fill consisted of a sticky boulder clay and a grey gley, with charcoal inclusions. The second ditch has been only partially excavated; so far it appears as though it cuts into the bank in some areas while in others it lies directly inside the bank. The nature of this ditch and the chronology of the structures will be addressed during a further season’s work at the site. Artefacts recovered from this feature include a bronze finger ring, an iron knife, crucible fragments and a vitreous material. A significantly large amount of animal bone was recovered from the ditch, including complete skulls.

Other artefacts found include an iron knife which was recovered from the fill of one of the pits.

Six burials were uncovered: one of these, E560:47. was different from the others. The burial was that of a young adult female and it was deposited in a shallow pit which did not adequately accommodate the body. The knees were flexed slightly to the right and the head lay on its right side.

The other burials were articulated and were extended inhumations in shallow pits without grave goods. All burials were aligned roughly east-west with the head at west. Three of the graves are outlined by stones. With one exception the burials lay between 0.3m-0.5m below the surface. Both male and female adults were represented.

All burials were concentrated in the south-western sector of and within the monument.