NMI Burial Excavation Records


Sites and Monuments Record No.: N/A Licence number: 03E0623

Author: Jonathan Dempsey, Archaeological Consultancy Services Ltd.

Site type: Excavation - miscellaneous

Period/Dating: Multi-period

ITM: E 659653m, N 707031m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 53.110508, -7.109016

Monitoring of the main phase of the construction topsoil strip for the M7 Heath–Mayfield Motorway Scheme was undertaken from April to December 2003. The total length of the scheme was 17.5km. Thirty sites or features of archaeological significance were identified in the course of monitoring.

The following sites and features were resolved by archaeological excavation:

Cappakeel 1, licence 03E0736, Jonathan Dempsey
Cappakeel 2, licence 03E1048, Jonathan Dempsey
Cappakeel 3, licence 03E1724, Jonathan Dempsey
Cappakeel 4, licence 03E1913, Tara O’Neill
Jamestown 1, licence 03E0714, Jonathan Dempsey
Jamestown 2, licence 03E0735, Jonathan Dempsey
Morett 1, licence 03E1349, Jonathan Dempsey
Morett 2, Morett 5, Morett 6, Morett 12, Morett 13, Morett 14, licence 03E1367, Jonathan Dempsey
Morett 4, Morett 8, Morett 10, licence 03E1368, Jonathan Dempsey
Morett 15, licence 03E1624, Jonathan Dempsey

The following sites and features were identified under licence 03E0623. They were located in areas of deep fill and were protected, reburied and preserved in situ.

Morett 3 253296 202883
Morett 3 consisted of an irregular spread of burnt-mound material which measured 13m north-north-east/south-south-west by 3.5m by c. 0.2m thick. The spread consisted of friable black/brown clayey silt with frequent charcoal flecks, occasional charcoal fragments, heat-fractured subangular stones up to 0.1m in length and larger sub-rounded to subangular stones up to 0.3m in diameter. Lenses of black/brown plastic peat were also visible. The peat also appeared to underlie the site.

Morett 7 253371 203116
Morett 7 consisted of two further, smaller spreads of fulacht material 55m east-north-east of Morett 3. The first of these was sub-oval and composed of friable black/brown clayey silt with occasional flecks of charcoal and moderate subangular heat-fractured stones which ranged in diameter from 5–10mm. The second spread, 3.2m to the east, was subcircular and measured 2.3m north–south by 2.1m. It was composed of friable black/brown clayey silt with frequent subangular heat-fractured stones up to 0.15m in length and occasional flecks of charcoal. These features were interpreted as pits with a fill of burnt-mound-like material and are probably associated with Morett 3 (above).

Morett 9, 253371 203116
Morett 9 was a spread of burnt-mound material 20m south-east of Morett 3. Sub-oval in shape, 2.2m north-west/south-east by 1.7m east–west, the spread consisted of black clayey silt with frequent charcoal flecks and occasional sub-rounded/subangular heat-fractured stones. Morett 9 is probably a pit with a fill of burnt-mound-like material associated with burnt-mound spread Morett 3 (above).

Morett 11, 253149 202725
Morett 11 was an irregular spread of burnt-mound material which measured 6.3m east–west by 4.1m, consisting of greyish-black silty clay with occasional subangular heat-fractured stones and frequent charcoal flecks. Lenses of black/brown plastic peat were also visible in the fabric of the fulacht.

The following sites and features were resolved under the monitoring licence.

Ballyshaneduff or The Derries A, 257392 206173
This site was a subcircular pit with two fills which measured 1.1m north–south by 0.8m by 0.25m deep. The primary fill was a black silty clay with frequent angular heat-shattered and fire-reddened stones and moderate charcoal flecks. This was overlain by dark-brown silty clay with occasional heat-shattered stone and occasional flecks of charcoal. This feature was probably associated with the fulacht fiadh excavated by Thaddeus Breen (No. 1059, Excavations 2003, 03E0662).

Ballyshaneduff or The Derries B, 257136 206034
Located in a coniferous plantation, this site consisted of the foundations of a single building. Placed in a cut foundation trench, the foundations were constructed of roughly squared random rubble. The southern wall had been completely robbed out. The robber trench, 1.55m wide, was visible. The foundations were on average 0.35m wide. The foundation stones were up to 0.4m in length and in general both the internal and external faces had been squared. The rubble had been mortared with a lime mortar with subangular gravel. The large amounts of brick tumble present indicated that the walls were of brick construction. Fragments of slate and painted plaster were also visible, indicating that the roof was slated and the walls plastered. No trace of the floor levels survived.

The external dimensions of the building were 12.45m east–west by 10.05m. Four rooms were identified. Access was possibly gained by a small porch at the west. This led into a hallway, orientated north–south, which provided access to Rooms 1 and 2. The hallway was 9.36m north–south by 1.3m. Rooms 1 and 2 were mirror images of each other, partitioned by a wall 0.35m in width. Rooms 1 and 2 measured 7.5m east–west by 4.5m, with offshoot rooms (Rooms 3 and 4) to the north. Rooms 3 and 4 formed an integral part of the building, rather than later additions, and measured 1.6m north–south by 1.7m. A slate-lined culverted drain, 0.25m wide, was located to the south of the building.

While this building is not marked on the OS 6-inch first edition of 1839, or on subsequent 6-inch or 25-inch editions, the building materials indicate that it is post-medieval. The nature of the finds from the overburden also suggests this. The building was possibly staff quarters associated with Ballyshaneduff House (also known as The Derries, RMP LA 9:15 (delisted)). This was a 19th-century castellated house, built in 1810 by W.J. Alloway on the site of an old house of the O’Dempseys. It was remodelled and partially rebuilt in the 19th century (Bence-Jones 1988, 28). The house was later demolished.

Cappakeel A, 255768 204845
Cappakeel A consisted of two parallel ditches, 3m apart, and orientated north-north-west/south-south-east. A 1.5m-wide section was excavated by hand through each ditch. The ditches were 1.2–1.9m in width by 0.35m deep with a U-shaped profile and an irregular base. Both had a homogenous fill of light-brown silty loam with moderate sub-rounded to subangular stones up to 0.15m in length and frequent fragments of branches and twigs. An enamelled iron object was recovered from the base of one of the ditches. The ditches were probably part of a trackway shown on the OS first-edition map of 1839.

Cappakeel B, 204451 255380
This charcoal-manufacturing kiln was subrectangular with rounded corners, measuring 0.96m east–west by 0.8m by 0.1m deep, with a flat base. It did not have the charcoal-rich fill usually associated with these features. The possible hearth was also subrectangular and measured 0.72m north–south by 0.5m by 0.04m deep. It was heavily truncated. A small area of in situ burning, 0.7m north-north-west/south-south-east by 0.3m by 10mm deep, was located 0.35m to the south-east of the possible hearth.

Jamestown A, 258881 206224
This consisted of a small, heavily truncated, irregular spread of burning measuring 1.05m north–south by 0.55m by 40mm deep.

Jamestown B, 257468 206224
Jamestown B was a charcoal-manufacturing kiln. It consisted of a subrectangular pit with rounded corners, gently sloping sides and a flat base. The pit measured 1.82m north-east/south-west by 1.1m by 0.17m deep. The base was heavily oxidised. The fills of this feature consisted of charcoal-rich silty clays.

Mooreabbey Demesne, 261898 207409
A spread of burning, was identified under spoil heaps of material dredged from the River Barrow during testing undertaken by Deirdre Murphy (No. 961, Excavations 2003, 03E0691). A hearth was identified during the current monitoring.

The hearth consisted of a spread of ash and patches of oxidised clay. It measured 0.9m east–west by 0.52m by 80mm deep. A post-hole was cut into the hearth. This was sub-oval in plan and measured 0.28m east–west by 0.2m by 0.14m deep. It was filled by a mid-brown clayey silt with lenses of oxidised clay. The northern part of the hearth had been cut by a modern drain.

The spread of heavily oxidised clay and charcoal was 69m east of the hearth. It measured 1.7m north–south by 0.6m by 0.12m deep. Fragments of a slag-like material were recovered from it.

Metal detecting and monitoring of the remainder of the dredged spoil within the road-line was undertaken. No additional sites or artefacts of archaeological significance were identified.

Morett A, 253748 203381
Morett A was a small irregular pit which measured 0.65m north–south by 0.5m by 0.1m deep. The fill was a dark-brown silty clay with flecks of charcoal and burnt clay.

Morett B, 253975 203512
This site consisted of a subcircular pit, 0.45m north–south by 0.4m by 0.15m deep. The homogenous fill was a dark-black/brown silty clay with occasional charcoal flecks.

Bence Jones, M. 1988 A guide to Irish country houses. London.

Unit 21, Boyne Business Park, Greenhills, Drogheda, Co. Louth