2000:0043 - BALLYCASEY BEG, Clare

NMI Burial Excavation Records

County: Clare Site name: BALLYCASEY BEG

Sites and Monuments Record No.: RMP 51:146 Licence number: 99E0266

Author: Anne Carey, Archaeological Services Unit Ltd, Purcell House, Oranmore, Co. Galway.

Site type: Enclosure

ITM: E 541113m, N 663903m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 52.723022, -8.871709

Excavation of the enclosure at Ballycasey Beg, Co. Clare, was carried out from 8 June 1999 until 8 June 2000. The site had been classified as a ringfort before the excavation, but the results of the work carried out at the site called for a reclassification. The enclosure commanded a very prominent position in the landscape. The site was located on the north-eastern end of a natural ridge, (orientated north-east/south-west) and stood high above the ground to the north and east. This height above ground level was accentuated by the presence of a deeply cut fosse or ditch that was particularly pronounced on the north-east-facing side of the monument. To the south and south-west the natural topography rose to form the narrow ridge, and the interior of the enclosure was on the same level as the surrounding land. Apparently to offset this defensive disadvantage, an earthen bank enclosed the site from west to south. Though there were faint traces of a bank from south to west through east and north, the south-west section of the enclosing element was noticeably pronounced.

Eight trenches were excavated at the Ballycasey Beg enclosure. Four of these, Trenches 1, 4, 6 and 7, investigated the enclosing bank. A single trench, Trench 2, investigated the interior of the site. The ditch area was investigated in Trenches 3, 6 and 8. A trial-trench was excavated to the north-west of the site (Trench 5). Excavation of the bank revealed that the upcast material sealed a rich, organic old ground surface. Animal bones were scattered over the old ground surface, but no other finds were recovered. Likewise, the ditch fill contained finds of animal bone only. The ditch fill had a depth of 1.74m. The interior of the site was cut through at regular intervals with furrows, some of which were very deep. There was no trace within the interior of the site of any dwellings or hearths, though there were many random post- and stake-holes, some containing charcoal.

Following the completion of the excavation programme in June 2000, the monitored removal of the bank and the ditch fill commenced and continued for a period of one month. Mechanical excavation of the ditch fill revealed that the size and depth of the ditch, as seen in Trench 3, were maintained all around the site, forming a substantial and impressive enclosing element. Removal of the bank material revealed the old ground surface underneath throughout the bank area. A fragment of a rotary quern was located underlying bank material and overlying the organic-rich, old ground surface to the north of the site, immediately adjacent to and to the west of Trench 6. No other finds were recovered, and no additional features were revealed in the course of monitoring.