2003:1077 - MORETT, Laois

NMI Burial Excavation Records

County: Laois Site name: MORETT

Sites and Monuments Record No.: SMR 8:19 Licence number: 03E0429

Author: Eoghan Moore, Prospect House, Dunsrim, Scotshouse, Co. Monaghan, for Valerie J. Keeley Ltd.

Site type: Road

ITM: E 653755m, N 703668m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 53.080910, -7.197670

The excavation of the ‘ancient road’ on Morett townland, Coolbanagher, Co. Laois, was primarily concerned with the exposure and subsequent removal of a stone surface that had been identified within the road-take of the proposed Heath–Mayfield roadway. The total extent of the excavation was 25m (north–south) by 45m.
The stone surface of the ‘ancient road’ was made up of larger stones, with a length of more than 0.1m, and smaller stones that measured less than 0.1m. The larger stones were interpreted as the foundation of the road, while the smaller stones were interpreted as infill, levelling off any unevenness created by the larger stones. Two linear wheel ruts were also identified running along one part of the road surface.
The majority of the artefacts uncovered came from the earthen and gravel deposits that had accumulated on top of the stone surface subsequent to its use or within an earthen deposit that seems to have accumulated between the stones during that period when the road was in use. These artefacts were, for the most part, medieval and modern pottery sherds, iron objects (nails and one possible horse stirrup) and fragments of animal bones. The combined evidence of these artefacts and local knowledge/folklore would suggest that the ‘ancient road’ was primarily used during the medieval/early modern period (c. 1200 to mid-19th century). The site is marked on the 1838 OS 6-inch map as an ‘ancient road’ and is still shown on the 1909 map
The ‘ancient road’ was situated in a depression that lay between two natural ridges. On account of this, it seems plausible to argue that its primary function was to facilitate movement across what was, prior to recent land reclamation, an area of marsh.