1993:001 - Ballygalley, Antrim

NMI Burial Excavation Records

County: Antrim Site name: Ballygalley

Sites and Monuments Record No.: SMR 35:54 Licence number:

Author: D.D.A. Simpson, M.G. Conway and D.G. Moore, Dept of Archaeology, Queen's University, Belfast.

Site type: Neolithic settlement and industrial site

ITM: E 737322m, N 907489m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 54.896275, -5.859107

A fifth season of excavation was carried out by Queen’s University Department of Archaeology on behalf of the Environment Service DoE (NI), at this very rich Neolithic settlement site (begun in 1989). The position of the cuttings and the major archaeological features are shown on the figure. The 1993 season lasted for ten weeks.

Site 1
Excavation concentrated on an area of 128 sq m to the north of House 1. The rich ‘cobbled’ surface consistently uncovered in previous season’s work extended 7m-7.5m north and north-west of the house and contained large quantities of struck and worked flint and sherds as well as porcellanite and pitchstone flakes. As this juncture the deposit was found to be contained behind a single course of large, closely-set boulders, forming a revetment running east-west and so far traceable for a distance of 7m. The revetment accentuates the natural topographic nature of the House 1 site (the structure and the main concentration of pits and gullies contained on a natural platform). Four metres to the north of the revetment a further setting of large boulders and occasional flat slabs was exposed forming a linear arrangement 2m-3m wide, which was flanked on its southern side by a shallow stone-filled ditch c. 2m wide, while to the north a further cobbled surface extended into the cutting section. Only a small portion of this feature was excavated and its full extent and possible function will be examined in more detail in the 1994 season. Large quantities of flint nodules but few diagnostic implements were recovered from the area north of the revetment, other than a small quantity of Late Bronze Age pottery. Prehistoric activity obviously extends northward beyond Site 1. Excavation to the south of House 1 uncovered further pits and postholes although as yet no discernible structure can be inferred.

Site 2
The eastern end of a second Neolithic house was uncovered. House 2 was located 32m to the south of House 1 and was also of beam slot construction, but with large corner posts and east-west orientation. House 2 was c. 5m wide and overlay an earlier more flimsy rectangular structure 2m wide, oriented north-west/south-east defined by shallow gullies. No finds were directly associated with the earlier structure. A double-sided saddle quern was found beside the south wall of House 2. A post-hole alignment was uncovered to the north of the structure along with a ‘ritual’ pit containing a pecked sandstone ball, a polished flint ball and a small polished axe blade from an as yet unidentified rock source. To the north-east of House 2 a series of pits and post-holes were excavated revealing two small circular settings of post-holes each c. 2m in diameter. Bronze Age activity was also uncovered at Site 2 in the form of a pit cremation of a young adult male located 8m to the east of House 2. There were no grave goods but charcoal from the deposit produced an Early Bronze Age date, 3248 + 57 BP 1680-1420 CAL BC). Large quantities of flint and pottery were again recovered from Site 2 but the most notable finds were complete stone axes, six of porcellanite and a possible Group I axe from Cornwall recovered during excavation north of House 2 (the two Group II axes from Great Langdale found in the 1992 season also came from the area of Site 2).

A resistivity survey was undertaken across 13 20m x 20m squares (5,200 sq m), directly to the north-east of Site 1. The most significant find from this survey was a possible sub-rectangular enclosure measuring 35m x 20m and oriented north-west/south-east. The enclosure was defined by a ditch (low resistance anomaly), 4-5m wide, which was clearest around the short axis at the north-west. To the south-west, along the long axis of the enclosure there appears to be a stone wall or revetment (high resistance) around 20m long and not over 2m wide. The interior of the enclosure is characterised by high resistance which can infer a stone covered surface (cobble?) and within it there are two to three small circular regions of low resistance each between 2.5m and 3m in diameter (huts?).

It is hoped to undertake a sixth and final season in 1994.