2003:1057 - BALLYSHANEDUFF OR THE DERRIES, Laois

NMI Burial Excavation Records

County: Laois Site name: BALLYSHANEDUFF OR THE DERRIES

Sites and Monuments Record No.: N/A Licence number: 03E0149

Author: Matthew Seaver, for Valerie J. Keeley Ltd, Brehon House, Kilkenny Road, Castlecomer, Co. Kilkenny.

Site type: Post-medieval enclosure

ITM: E 657125m, N 706092m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 53.102340, -7.146944

Five trenches were dug at Site 7, Ballyshaneduff or The Derries, to assess the archaeological significance of an earthwork, part of which would be affected by the construction of the N7 Heath–Mayfield road. It consisted of an elongated D-shaped wooded enclosure measuring 80m by 20m, which was curved on the southern side and straight on the northern. It was positioned as an island between two large fields. The straight side has a slight internal bank. The interior was raised above the level of the field to the south.
All trenches measured 20m by 2m and were aligned north–south. Excavation revealed that ploughsoil was 0.24–0.5m in depth, and overlay orange/brown sandy natural clay. Plough furrows were located running from north-east to south-west and were filled with mid-brown sandy silt.
A shallow linear cut measuring 2.5m wide and 0.26m deep ran from south-west to north-east at the southern end of Trench 1. Ploughsoil on the summit of the platform was 0.24–0.45m in depth and overlay natural boulder clay. This overlay plough furrows running parallel to the edge of the ditch cut into natural boulder clay. The ditch was filled with light-brown silty sand up to 0.6m in depth which contained occasional lumps of charcoal. This deposit contained blackware, creamware and a small sherd of medieval pottery. It overlay a deposit of limestone field stones, which in turn overlay natural boulder clay. The ditch had a stepped southern edge which formed a shelf-like feature before diving steeply. It had a U-shaped profile with a relatively flat bottom. The ditch was 2m in width at the top and 0.48m at its base. It was up to 0.56m in depth. Excavation of the ditch in Trench 3 revealed the same profile as Trench 2 and the fill yielded a square-headed iron nail and bottle glass.
Trench 5 was positioned perpendicular to the earthwork at its eastern limit, which was a cattle access between the fields. Due to the construction of this lane the earthwork was lowered to natural boulder clay, which was present immediately beneath the rough surface. The area south of the ditch was devoid of any features and came down directly onto natural. The ditched enclosure appears to be no earlier than the 18th century in date.