2003:1113 - COMMONS, FENAGH, Leitrim

NMI Burial Excavation Records

County: Leitrim Site name: COMMONS, FENAGH

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

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

Site type: Medieval/post-medieval

ITM: E 610570m, N 807601m

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

The site of the proposed development, the widening of the R202 Ballinamore to Mohill road, is located within the bounds of Fenagh Abbey. The road widening will include the 240m stretch of the road that runs through the zone of archaeological potential for the abbey. The road widening will affect an area measuring roughly 240m by 4m. Based upon the results of the previously excavated test-trenches (see No. 1112 above), it was decided that three areas would be further investigated manually. Two of these areas would measure 25m by 4m and be centred on Test-trenches 3 and 4, where evidence of archaeological activity was revealed in the form of a collapsed field boundary and a rough stone surface. A third area, measuring 4m by 2m, was to be excavated in an area not previously tested but where it appeared that a small portion of another collapsed wall would be impacted upon by the road. The areas between the three areas of excavation would be stripped of topsoil and monitored while the excavation was ongoing.
The areas excavated served to further define the features identified during testing, although they offered little information concerning the dating or construction of the collapsed field walls. However, in all three excavated areas and in the areas between, a single linear cut feature was revealed extending almost the full length of the site. Measuring almost 200m long, 0.8–1.4m wide and 0.5–1.3m deep, this cut ran roughly north–south, parallel to the adjacent modern stone boundary wall. With its western edge being up to 1m east of the field boundary, it curved gently to the west at either end, extending outside the area excavated and under the adjacent road. The cut was filled with loose stones of medium to large size and a friable silty clay. The edges of the feature were defined over most of its length by large stones set into the sides where the feature cut the natural. In some places these stones extended to the base of the flat-bottomed cut, indicating that both sides of the feature may originally have been faced by roughly coursed stones. The stones set into the sides along most its length are similar to those found in souterrains to provide a level, solid surface for the placement of the cap stones. However, with the exception of a portion of the cut roughly in the centre of the exposed portion of the feature where the cut is deepest, it is too shallow to have been a souterrain. Thus the feature may constitute a partially robbed-out stone-lined ditch/drain or an oddly constructed wall. No datable finds were recovered from the fill, with the exception of some bottle glass and early modern pottery found mixed in with the rubble. These may indicate a late date for the feature, although they are more likely to be related to the robbing-out of the feature rather than its construction. Post-excavation analysis is ongoing.