1991:003 - Ballyshanaghill Rath, Crumlin, Antrim

NMI Burial Excavation Records

County: Antrim Site name: Ballyshanaghill Rath, Crumlin

Sites and Monuments Record No.: SMR Ant 59:6 Licence number:

Author: Eoin Halpin, A.D.S., Unit 5, Westlink Enterprise Centre, Distillery Street, Belfast BT12 SBJ.

Site type: Rath

ITM: E 714727m, N 875796m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 54.617351, -6.223675

The second season of excavations at Ballyshanaghill Rath took place in the six-week period between 6/5/91 and 14/6/91. Following on from the first season which had taken place during late January-February 1991, the north-east and southwest quadrants were examined, as well as two further trenches through the rath defences. From these trenches it was clear that the rath was at least two phased. The earlier bank was levelled and the ditch back-filled to allow for the construction of a bank along the line of the earlier ditch and a second ditch was cut some 5m outside the original. This effectively increased the overall diameter of the rath by 10m from 30m to its present 40m.

There was no definitive proof of an entrance way; however in the trench which was cut through the bank and ditch to the south-west, the sections were most revealing. The earlier ditch appeared quite dearly in the section on the north side of the trench but was not present in the southern section, a mere 2m away. This suggests that the trench, by sheer good fortune, cut through the northern terminal of the earlier, inner ditch and by implication the entrance to the earlier rath. The latter ditch carried right across the trench implying that the entrances to the earlier and later raths were not co-terminus.

There was strong evidence in the interior for a multi-period, or at least multi-phased site. At least five separate but inter-related structures were uncovered all of which were circular and all of which were defined by a series of U-shaped gullies. The largest and earliest structure measured some 10m in diameter and the smallest measured a mere 5.5m. Many of the gullies produced charred wood, and sherds of souterrain ware were found in most. The most interesting feature uncovered was a gully which took the shape of a sickle. It was found to curve in an arc from north-east round to south-west, describing part of a circle of some 7m in diameter. However it then turned and ran in a south-westerly direction for a further 6m before disappearing under the baulk. During excavation it was hypothesized that this gully was constructed, at least in part, to drain water from the centre of the site; thus it was reasoned that it must head toward the entrance, the easiest access to the ditch. It did not, however, run towards the entrance associated with the earlier rath and therefore, without further evidence, must be seen to be associated with the later rath.

Apart from the pottery, a small assemblage of worked stone was recovered, mostly in the form of flint but a large fragment of a rotary quern was also found. Two glass beads were discovered in the fills of separate gullies and finally, although the site was scanned, under supervision, by a metal detector which located a number of ferrous and non ferrous ‘blips’, no metal objects of note were recovered.