2000:0972 - LACKAGH, Tyrone

NMI Burial Excavation Records

County: Tyrone Site name: LACKAGH

Sites and Monuments Record No.: SMR 33:11(s) Licence number:

Author: Stiofan Ó Cathmhaoil, Archaeological Excavation Unit, EHS, 5–33 Hill Street, Belfast BT1 2LA.

Site type: Ecclesiastical site

ITM: E 631229m, N 874225m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 54.615299, -7.516528

A condition requiring supervision by an archaeologist during site preparation works (i.e. topsoil-stripping and excavation of trenches for foundations, services and access) was placed on a planning approval to erect a replacement dwelling at 34 Sloughan Road, Drumquin, Co. Tyrone. During June of the same year the applicant notified EHS Historic Monuments Section that works to erect the new dwelling would commence on 27 June.

The site is adjacent to a known ecclesiastical site that has its foundation in the Early Christian period. This church and graveyard saw continual use until the post-medieval period. The site is adjacent to the River Blackwater, and the vestiges of an oval enclosure are visible.

An area measuring 30m x 20m was stripped of topsoil as part of the site preparation works. This revealed topsoil to a depth of more than 1m, not surprising considering that the site was at the base of a steep-sided drumlin. This work immediately exposed features cut in the orange clay subsoil.

The most obvious features exposed were a series of what appeared to be modern, stone-filled drains that ran diagonally across the site north-west/south-east. These drains were 2m wide at their widest point and ran beyond the northern and southern trench boundaries. A section through one of the drains established that they were at least 0.5m deep. Running diagonally north-east/south-west across the site was another linear feature. This ditch-like feature was visible on the 1835 OS 6-inch map as a field boundary. Four discrete areas of archaeological interest were discovered during monitoring of topsoil-stripping.

In Area 1, four pits ranging from 0.5m to 0.7m in diameter were discovered close to the centre of the northern trench wall. These pits were orientated roughly north-east/south-west. Excavation established that these were the basal portions of the pits, the rest having been contained in the topsoil. However, two of the four pits were partially contained within the northern trench wall, and past disturbance (perhaps deep ploughing) was visible on the archaeological strata in this section face. These strata had been swept to the east by past activity. These pits covered an area c. 3m long. Pit 3 produced a single sherd of coarse pottery. This was a base sherd that possessed a pronounced foot.

Four more pits similar in nature to those in Area 1 were discovered in the north-western corner of the trench (Area 2). These pits were orientated roughly north–south. Unfortunately excavation of these features did not produce any datable finds. These pits covered an area c. 2m in length.

Six metres south of the north-eastern corner of the trench, in Area 3, a U- or half D-shaped structure was discovered. This structure was orientated north-west/south-east. It consisted of two slot-trenches c. 0.15m wide, one straight and one curving, with three large internal pits at the curving end. The whole feature covered an area roughly 5m long and 3m wide. A section of the slot-trench established that it was at least 0.12m deep. The two slot-trenches did not meet; there was a small gap at one end (resembling a doorway), and the other end was open. These slot-trenches and the three pits were all filled with black, sticky material with a very high percentage of charcoal.

It is possible that the rest of the construction of the structure had not penetrated the subsoil owing to the depth of topsoil here. However, if this was the case, it is puzzling that the vestiges of pits were not visible immediately south of the feature. A large amount of vitrified material—what appeared to be slag—was recovered in the area around this structure. A sample was taken. Sitting on top of Pit 1 (the northernmost pit) was a large stone artefact, a socketed, elliptical sharpening stone up to 0.23m in diameter and up to 0.1m thick, made of what appears to be sandstone. Wear on this sharpening stone had left an easily discernible bevel along the whole edge, and the socket that held the axle was slightly hourglass-shaped in section.

One quadrant of a curving slot-trench was exposed in the south-western corner of the trench (Area 4). Excavation of a small portion of the trench revealed that this was similar in nature to the slots in Area 3. This feature covered an area c. 6m long. The area around this feature also contained the slag-like material found around Area 3. However, no datable artefacts were recovered from the fill of this slot.