1991:009 - SOLAR, Antrim

NMI Burial Excavation Records

County: Antrim Site name: SOLAR

Sites and Monuments Record No.: SMR Ant 30:3 Licence number:

Author: C.J. Lynn, Historic Monuments and Buildings Branch, DOE(NI)

Site type: Church

Period/Dating: Medieval (AD 400-AD 1600)

ITM: E 734022m, N 911987m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 54.937565, -5.908411

This small ecclesiastical site is noted for the 'Bell of Solar', an Early Christian hand-bell found in the last century. It lies on an extensive crescentic terrace of the east side of the Antrim Plateau and consists of an indistinct low platform with a few protruding boulders at the north end of the terrace. The adjacent field wall was allegedly built with stone from the church. There is a bullaun stone at a nearby farmhouse.

The owner of the farm bulldozed topsoil from strips across the site and had gravelled all but one of them to make paths between exhibits in an 'open farm'. One strip remained open at the time of a chance inspection and revealed a dense scatter of potsherds embedded in dark occupation soil. It was agreed that a salvage excavation could take place along this 2m x 30m strip, limited to trowelling the loose soil and retrieving exposed artifacts, and that there would be no further disturbance of the site by the owner.

Hundreds of sherds of souterrain, everted-rim and medieval glazed wares were recovered across the strip, especially in the vicinity of the 'church', but also extending along the strip to some 30m to the south. A rotary quernstone protruded from the archaeological horizon around the platform and an iron socketed spearhead was found nearby. There were, however, no apparent structural features.

The site is now being scheduled for protection under the Historical Monuments Act (NI) 1971.