1995:228 - Moynagh Lough, Brittas, Meath

NMI Burial Excavation Records

County: Meath Site name: Moynagh Lough, Brittas

Sites and Monuments Record No.: N/A Licence number:

Author: John Bradley, Dept. of Archaeology, University College, Dublin 4.

Site type: Crannóg

ITM: E 681734m, N 786015m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 53.817228, -6.758778

Excavations continued on this crannóg site (see Excavations 1994, 72-3). In previous seasons evidence was recovered for activity during the Mesolithic, Early/Middle Bronze Age, Later Bronze Age and Early Christian periods. In 1995, work concentrated on the Later Bronze Age and Early Christian levels.

Later Bronze Age
As a result of previous work, an area of Later Bronze Age activity measuring 6m x 6m had been exposed, but it was not clear whether the activity represented the casual stopping-off point for a hunting party or the edge of a domestic site. In 1995 an area measuring 20m x 20m was exposed and it revealed an extensive spread of occupation debris which continued beyond the exposed area in all directions.

The major feature was a stony ridge running from east to west across the site. The stones had been introduced and dumped into position. For the most part they consisted of fist-sized pebbles and many were heat-cracked. Interspersed between and above the stones was a layer of dark charcoal-flecked earth. There was no evidence for formal structures.

Among the finds were ten bronzes, including two leaf-shaped, socketed spearheads with bevelled edges and pegholes, six pins (two globular-headed, one nail-headed, one with a right-angled head, one with a slightly expanded head decorated with incised parallel lines, and the sixth lacking its head), a bronze disc and a curved rod of bronze. Dozens of sherds of coarse, flat-bottomed pottery were recovered. Two spindle- whorls were present, one of stone, the other of bone, as well as a handled bone comb perhaps used for carding wool. Thirteen saddle querns (or parts thereof) were found, and three rubbing stones which had been used for grinding. Among the other stone finds were three hones and three burnishers, while an antler cheek-piece suggested the presence of draught animals. There were fourteen amber beads, three lignite beads, one glass bead, as well as parts of three lignite bracelets and two shale bracelets. Two smaller rings, one of stone, the other a lignite ring with transverse perforations, may have had an ornamental function. Among the animal bones, cattle, pig and red deer were present (see Archaeology Ireland, Spring 1996, for a fuller account).

Early Christian
During the first half of the 7th century a crannóg was built and occupation continued until the end of the 8th century. Five levels of occupation have been identified, and work concentrated on the lowest of these and on the layers of crannóg buildup. Several hearths, fireplaces and ash spreads were uncovered but there was no evidence that any of these was within a structure; all appear to have been open-air features, presumably cooking-places. It is possible, however, that these relate to houses in the unexcavated part of the site. Underneath the charcoal spreads (and perhaps indicating a sixth level) were the foundations of a round structure some 4m across. This had a single wall of post and wattle; the interior was charcoal-rich but there was no evidence for a hearth. It may have been a workshop. Interestingly, this round structure had been cut by the earliest of the crannóg palisades discovered so far, and it raises the possibility that the earliest crannóg level may not have been enclosed by a palisade. Stratigraphically, however, there was no evidence for a break, nor for any abandonment of the site between this level and the ones above it.

Among the artefacts were several decorated bone combs and spindle-whorls, a bird-headed pin of bone, an iron shield boss, an iron spearhead, glass beads, jet bracelet fragments, a rectangular bronze mount decorated with ribbing and lentoid bosses, and the upper body of an E-ware pot. An unusual find was the discovery of two Merovingian glass vessels and a bronze spatula which appear to have formed part of a cosmetic set.