1997:430 - THE KNOCKANS (TELTOWN), ORISTOWN, Meath

County: Meath Site name: THE KNOCKANS (TELTOWN), ORISTOWN

Sites and Monuments Record No.: N/A Licence number: 97E0301

Author: John Waddell and Madeline O’Brien, Department of Archaeology, National University of Ireland, Galway.

Site type: Linear earthwork

ITM: E 680874m, N 774353m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 53.712584, -6.774887

The double-banked monument known as ‘The Knockans’ at Teltown, Co. Meath, was partly destroyed by earth-moving machinery in May 1997. The northernmost bank was completely demolished, the intervening ditch was filled with redeposited material and part of the southern bank was removed. Excavation (on behalf of the National Monuments Service) was undertaken there in August and September 1997 along with a geophysical survey (by the Applied Geophysics Unit, NUIG).

The southern bank survived as a large truncated earthwork 38m in length, about 10m in maximum width and 2.4m in maximum height, with its long axis aligned west-north-west/east-south-east. The destruction exposed machine-cut section faces at either end on the west and east and a longitudinal section running the length of the earthwork on the north. Earth from the destroyed parts of the monument was redeposited in the general vicinity, in the intervening ditch and in the western and southern parts of a water-filled hollow marked on the OS map to the east of the earthwork. This hollow seems to have been an irregular oval measuring about 42m east–west and 11m north–south, with a maximum depth below external ground level of about 2m at its centre. The vegetation in the undisturbed north-eastern portion suggests that it was not a pond as such.

Utilising the exposed sections on the west and east, two 2m-wide cuttings were opened; two shorter 2m-wide cuttings to the north were cut to reveal the amount of redeposited material in the intervening ditch; and one small cutting on top of the earthwork was opened to explore its upper surface, but revealed nothing. It transpired that the northern earthwork, though completely destroyed, had left a clear geophysical signature, and the presence of a broad, deep, flat-bottomed ditch between the two embankments was confirmed.

It was evident that the surviving earthen bank had a substantial core of compressed, burnt, ash-like material; this has been extensively sampled and should provide material for radiocarbon dating. A small votive deposit of unburned cattle bones was found in the lower levels of this burnt deposit. Further excavation will be necessary to investigate the lowest levels of the burnt deposit, and what may be small settings of stones and small pieces of wood, possibly stakes, have yet to be investigated. Partial and preliminary reconstitution of the monument was undertaken, and this, too, has to be completed.