1991:029 - BALLYNAHATTY 3, Ballynahatty, Down

NMI Burial Excavation Records

County: Down Site name: BALLYNAHATTY 3, Ballynahatty

Sites and Monuments Record No.: SMR 9:62 Licence number:

Author: Barrie Hartwell, Dept. of Archaeology, Queen's University Belfast

Site type: Enclosure

Period/Dating: Undetermined

ITM: E 732523m, N 867697m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 54.540280, -5.951970

In August 1991 a cropmark was excavated in the prehistoric cemetery just 50m north-west of the Giant's Ring enclosure.

It appeared in two air photographs as a diffused, pale ring some 55m in diameter which seemed to suggest the remains of a bank. There was an apparent entrance at its north-west side. On the ground, no bank could be seen but the site of the enclosure was marked by a large shallow depression in a sandy ridge. A trench cutting this cropmark on the north side located a ditch filled with coarse stones and gravel. At first this was thought to be a natural, post-glacial feature but the presence of charcoal indicates a backfilled ditch. A trench opened up on the eastern side located a thick, stony layer that could have been the remains of the bank. In the middle of the site, an area was excavated and joined by machine cut trench to the two outer sections. This showed a series of backfill soil lenses containing 19th-century pottery down to a depth of at least 15m. The undisturbed natural was reached at the bottom of a further small exploratory trench which suggested that this 'modern' stratigraphy continued for a further 1.5m. It would appear that most of the interior of the site had been dug out to a depth of at least 3m and within the last two hundred years had been progressively backfilled. The reason for this is unclear although there is an early reference (Harris, W. (1744).  The ancient and present state of the County of Down. Dublin. p. 218.) to a small mound contiguous with the Giant's Ring 'that some of the neighbours dug through, in order to get stones for building; and in the middle thereof a great quantity of bones was found'.

No artifacts were found in association with the bank and ditch and there was insufficient charcoal for dating. The site remains an enigma.