2000:0001 - ANTRIM TOWN WAR MEMORIAL, CASTLE STREET, ANTRIM, Antrim

NMI Burial Excavation Records

County: Antrim Site name: ANTRIM TOWN WAR MEMORIAL, CASTLE STREET, ANTRIM

Sites and Monuments Record No.: SMR 50:183 Licence number: AE/00/46

Author: Cia McConway, ADS, Unit 48, Westlink Enterprise Centre, 30–50 Distillery Street, Belfast BT12 5BJ.

Site type: Urban, Early Christian/medieval

ITM: E 714577m, N 886713m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 54.715433, -6.221715

Antrim Borough Council proposed to erect a war memorial in Castle Street, Antrim, opposite the courthouse in Market Square. Because of the archaeologically sensitive nature of the area, lying immediately outside the 17th-century town walls and bastion (SMR 50:183), the foundation of the memorial was excavated to formation level. A recent excavation by Paul Logue, carried out along the bastion to the north-east of the site, uncovered a cobbled surface overlying a ditch, which was dated to the medieval period (Excavations 1998, 1).

The current work revealed an early medieval ditch, 1.8m wide x 1.3m deep, running north–south along the outer face of the town walls. This ditch may be the continuation of the partially excavated linear feature recorded near the bastion in 1998. Its proximity to the 17th-century bastion, walls and castle would strongly suggest that the ditch represents an earlier phase of the town’s defences during the 13th and 14th centuries. One probable recut was apparent in that portion of the ditch excavated, indicative of the longevity of this defensive structure. The apparently deliberate infilling represents the abandonment of this defensive structure, perhaps in favour of another (the walls and bastion?).

The ditch cut through a substantial depth of soils and into subsoil. Pottery recovered from these soils would suggest an Early Christian date for this deposit, c. AD 1000. It was not possible to ascertain the extent and nature of these deposits within the confines of this excavation. Given the proximity of the ditch to the town walls and the limited excavation, it is possible that these soils are fills of a much larger ditch or occupational deposits. At the least, these soils suggest the existence of settlement in this area of Antrim town at around AD 1000, earlier perhaps than the historical documents suggest.