2003:1112 - COMMONS, FENAGH, Leitrim

NMI Burial Excavation Records

County: Leitrim Site name: COMMONS, FENAGH

Sites and Monuments Record No.: SMR 25:96 Licence number: 01E0159

Author: Christopher Read, North West Archaeological Services Ltd, Cloonfad Cottage, Cloonfad, Carrick-on-Shannon, Co. Leitrim.

Site type: Field walls

ITM: E 610570m, N 807601m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 54.017512, -7.838715

Part of the proposed development, the widening of the R202 Balinamore to Mohill road, is located within the bounds of Fenagh Abbey. A 240m stretch of the road runs through the zone of archaeological potential for the abbey, an area protected by a preservation order. An area measuring roughly 4m by 240m to the east of the existing road will be affected. This area is dominated by a drystone field boundary that will be dismantled and moved 4m to the east as part of the road-widening project. The area contains the remains of at least two walls/field boundaries associated with the monastic complex.
Five north–south-oriented trenches measuring 8m by 1m were excavated manually to a depth of 0.35–0.6m across the area of the proposed road widening. Two were specifically sited to investigate grassed-over linear features. Four of the trenches were sited 3m east of the stone wall that runs adjacent to the road, with Trench 3 2m from the wall. Archaeological features were uncovered in Trenches 3 and 4, where 2m by 1m areas within each trench were excavated through the features to the level of undisturbed natural.
In Trench 3, the remains of a substantial field wall, 2–3m wide, were revealed. The wall was in a ruined state, with evidence of extensive collapse. The upper stones were revealed immediately below the sod, with a total surviving height of 0.5m. The collapsed stones were spread over a large area, covering the entire trench, forming a consistent layer of small and medium stones throughout with a depth of 0.1m, mixed with a grey/brown silty clay similar to that in Trenches 1 and 2. The wall itself consists of small and medium stones resting atop larger flat stones. There was no evidence of the original wall construction. A thin deposit of yellow/brown sandy silt with small stones and some charcoal flecking, 0.1–0.15m deep, was sealed by the field wall and rested atop the natural subsoil.
Trench 4 was situated to investigate a large north–south-oriented linear hump, similar to the other grassed-over field boundaries but considerably wider and lower in profile. The remains of a possible rough stone surface were revealed, consisting of a thin deposit, 0.08–0.11m deep, of evenly distributed small stones mixed with a grey/brown silty clay. The stones were angular and tightly packed, creating a relatively level surface. A small amount of animal bone and some charcoal flecking was revealed in this deposit. These small stones rested atop a layer of small to medium flat stones, with evidence of weathering, within a layer of grey/brown silty clay, with a total depth of 0.1–0.15m. These stones rested directly on bedrock.
While the scope of the testing was fairly limited, it is certainly possible that there is very little other archaeological activity in this area apart from that which is obviously visible. Even in Trenches 3 and 4 there was little evidence for other features, beyond the stone wall and surface. Modern crockery in the sealing deposits and from the field wall in Trench 3 indicates either a late date for these features or considerable modern disturbance of them. These features and any other archaeology revealed will be fully excavated in advance of the proposed road widening.