2002:1823 - AGHAMORE, Westmeath

NMI Burial Excavation Records

County: Westmeath Site name: AGHAMORE

Sites and Monuments Record No.: N/A Licence number: 02E0869

Author: Emmet Byrnes, Margaret Gowen & Co. Ltd.

Site type: Metalworking site

Period/Dating: Medieval (AD 400-AD 1600)

ITM: E 661164m, N 746663m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 53.466469, -7.078824

Excavation was carried out between 21 June and 4 July 2002 on a site at Aghamore, Co. Westmeath, as part of the Bord Gáis Éireann Pipeline to the West project (Section 1A: Ballough to Kinnegad). The site was revealed during monitoring of topsoil-stripping and was recorded as two concentrations of features; both included an area of intense burning with a high charcoal content, and one had small amounts of iron slag.

A total of 22 archaeological features extending over an area measuring 25m north–south by 60m were excavated. They included nine ‘ore-extraction’ pits or scoops, three shallow subrectangular ‘charcoal-making’ pits, eight small ‘bowl’ furnaces and three shallow linear features. The ‘ore-extraction’ pits or scoops were the most interesting, as they were dug along the line of the distinct bands of compact grey/white sand in the subsoil, apparently with a view to extracting the natural iron-rich nodules that formed there.

No artefacts were recovered from the features, and so a definite date for the site will have to await a radiocarbon determination. However, the nature of the ‘bowl’ furnaces on the site suggests an early historic to medieval date. Similar features were recorded as ‘smelting furnaces’ at Baysdale in north-east England and were dated to the 14th century.

2 Killiney View, Albert Road Lower, Glenageary, Co. Dublin