2001:332 - Old Coach Road, Balrothery, Dublin

County: Dublin Site name: Old Coach Road, Balrothery

Sites and Monuments Record No.: SMR 5:57(02) Licence number: 01E0371

Author: Teresa Bolger, 28 Haroldville Avenue, Rialto, Dublin 8.

Site type: Monitoring

ITM: E 720062m, N 761743m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 53.591788, -6.186385

A desktop assessment of a proposed development at Old Coach Road, Balrothery, Co. Dublin, was undertaken in October 2000. It recommended that a programme of test-trenching be undertaken in all areas of land-take prior to the commencement of construction works. A standing stone is located towards the eastern end of the site and it was recommended that a buffer zone be established around it within which no groundworks or landscaping should take place. It was further recommended by Dúchas, on the basis of the desktop assessment, that a geophysical survey of the site be undertaken to investigate the potential for the presence of subsurface archaeological remains in a non-invasive manner. The geophysical survey was carried out in March 2001 by GeoArc Ltd. It identified a series of linear anomalies on the western side of the site, and also some more ephemeral anomalies in the east and south of the site. The report recommended further investigation of these anomalies to clarify their true nature and source.

Following on from this a test excavation was carried out in May–June 2001. A series of 23 test-trenches were opened across the site. These consisted of three long trenches running east–west with shorter offset trenches at regular intervals along their length. A small number of additional trenches were also opened to investigate geophysical anomalies not intersected by the main trench sequences.

Archaeological remains were identified conclusively in trenches A3 and D6, with more ambiguous material noted in trenches B7 and G3. It is anticipated that the development will impact negatively on the material identified in all of these areas. It was therefore recommended that full excavation of these areas be undertaken prior to the commencement of development works. It was also recommended that monitoring of topsoil removal and related subsurface works be undertaken in conjunction with this programme of excavation.

Excavation of the possible medieval activity identified in trenches A3 and D6 was undertaken in July–August 2001 (see below, No. 333). Monitoring of topsoil removal and further assessment of the area around trenches B7 and G3 was undertaken as an extension of the present licence.

Programme of monitoring

Further assessment of the area around trenches B7 and G3 was undertaken as part of the programme of monitoring. An area c. 10m by 10m, centred on each of the two trenches, was cleaned back by hand, after the removal of topsoil. No archaeological material was noted.

During the removal of topsoil at the entrance to the site, at Old Coach Road, the foundations of a pair of semi-detached mortared stone houses were uncovered. The buildings appear to have been of 19th-century date, and a number of surviving architectural features were noted, in particular the incorporation of a drain into the partition wall, and also a number of features relating to the doorway construction. Of particular note was the fact that the structure of the live land drain identified during the excavation of medieval material at the site (see below, No. 333) had been incorporated into the foundations of the northernmost house, suggesting that it post-dated this feature.

Monitoring of topsoil removal over c. two thirds of the development site had been completed by the end of 2001. No further archaeological material was identified.