2000:0010 - CROSSREAGH EAST, Derry

NMI Burial Excavation Records

County: Derry Site name: CROSSREAGH EAST

Sites and Monuments Record No.: N/A Licence number: AE/00/26

Author: Cormac McSparron, NAC, Unit 6, Farset Enterprise Park, 638 Springfield Road, Belfast.

Site type: Prehistoric structures

ITM: E 682204m, N 936503m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 55.168983, -6.709743

Archaeological investigations were carried out at Crossreagh East, Portstewart, Co. Derry, to satisfy the archaeological planning stipulations placed on the development. Topsoil-stripping had been completed before archaeological assessment was commissioned, and so we are not provided with the full range of evidence that might have been present. Burnt areas and coarse pottery were visible on the surface on initial archaeological assessment. On excavating the site, two structures were found.

Structure 1 was c. 7m x 8m. It was subrectangular with an apsidal north-east end defined by a construction slot. A gully outside the construction slot may be a second construction. The remainder of the structure was defined by post-holes c. 0.3m deep. Within the outer lines of post-holes there appear to have been a number of internal aisles marked by post-holes. If the gully outside the construction slot is a second construction slot, it is possible that there were two buildings on top of each other, very similar in shape, size and constructional techniques.

There were two pits within Site 1. The first was elongated, filled with charcoal-rich soil and fire-reddened stones at the south end. The second was roughly triangular. Its base was ‘cobbled’ with hundreds of small stones. This pit contained a number of small fragments of Carrowkeel ware.

Undecorated coarseware was found in the construction slot and in other features. The outer construction slot/gully contained a very thin, bluish, crystalline deposit that may have been copper/iron slag. John Davidson of the Department of Archaeology and Paleoecology, Queen’s University, Belfast, processed the soil samples. This provided a large quantity of charcoal and many carbonised grains and seeds. Charcoal samples have been sent for 14C dating. Seeds and grain are being identified. The finding of Carrowkeel ware close to possible slag is worthy of note, but there is no evidence from the stratigraphy that the pit containing it was definitely contemporary with the structure. Also, the Carrowkeel ware in the pit may have been residual.

Structure 2 was similar to Structure 1. It was subcircular, c. 8m in diameter, defined by a construction slot at its northern half and by post-holes around the rest of the perimeter. There was less definite evidence of internal posts or a second phase, although there was more truncation of the archaeology in this site. There were regularly spaced, slight depressions inside the structure that may have been the bases of truncated post-holes or, possibly, evidence for pads onto which internal posts were placed. At the north end of the main part of Structure 2 there was an entrance leading into a circular structure defined by eight small but deep post-holes. These post-holes were no more that 0.2m across but were up to 0.4m deep. The overall effect was of a figure-of-eight structure, although the northern circle looked too flimsy to have been roofed. Undecorated coarse pottery was found in the construction slot. Some charcoal and charred grains were found during soil-sample processing, although not in the same quantity as for Site 1. A fuller report of the site can be found on the NAC website: www.northarch.supanet.com.