2003:1205 - DERRAGH, Longford

NMI Burial Excavation Records

County: Longford Site name: DERRAGH

Sites and Monuments Record No.: N/A Licence number: 03E0942

Author: Christina Fredengren, The Discovery Programme

Site type: Settlement platform and Prehistoric site - lithic scatter

Period/Dating: Mesolithic (8000 BC-4001 BC)

ITM: E 639912m, N 778793m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 53.757221, -7.394755

The Discovery Programme has been undertaking substantial archaeological work in the River Inny basin and, in particular, in Lough Kinale/Derragh Lough (which consists of three lake basins). Parts of this work have focused on Mesolithic artefacts retrieved from Derragh townland, Co. Longford. Records in the National Museum of Ireland mention that lithics were connected with three platform crannogs located at Derragh Island, which is centrally located in relation to the lake basins.

Some of the aims of the excavation were to try to locate these platform crannogs and to determine if they were man-made, to get a site context for the collected materials and to write a social interpretation of these sites.

During the summer of 2003, three areas were excavated, A, B and C. Area A is on the shore near the River Inny's old exit from Kinale in the vicinity of Kinale 1. Area B is on Derragh Island's northern shoreline. Area C is on the summit of Derragh Island. A and B were chosen, as they correspond, to a certain extent, to the location of sites Kinale 1 and 2, discussed by earlier researchers in the area. In Area A, a low mound located during fieldwork may indicate a platform crannog. Furthermore, lithics had been found during survey work at Area B, as well as at Area C. These areas correspond, in general, to the locations marked in the museum documentation. However, a definite statement about both the excavated sites and their correspondence to the sites mentioned by the museum have to wait further analysis and excavation.

Site A is a small, nearly circular platform, located off the winter shoreline. It measured roughly 12m in diameter and rose c. 0.2m above the water meadow before excavation. The ground above the site is more firm than that surrounding it.

The site was investigated by a 3m by 10m test-trench (A1), which it was hoped would expose a possible edge, as well as the centre, and thus give a chance to get an insight into the site type and use.

The excavation revealed a partly peat-sealed platform. As the platform slopes down to the west, the peat gets deeper. The platform itself appears to consist of an area of timber along the edge, which stratigraphically overlies several stone and gravel layers, which in turn overlie peat with stakes/pegs and a possible hearth. There are indications that the site sits on grey gravelly sand and reaches c. 0.4m above the lake/riverbed.

Site B consists of two grass-covered arms stretching from an earlier shoreline out into the water. The eastern causeway measures 21.3m in length and 5.3-6m in width, while the western measures 18.3m in length and 6m in width. The causeways are spaced c. 16m apart. The excavation produced a range of Late Mesolithic artefacts.

A trench, B1, was laid out to cross these features and also what was perceived to be a slight elevation between them. The excavation showed that the causeway arms consisted of shattered stones resting on glacial sands.

Area C is located on the gravel ridge of Derragh Island and is the area in which lithics were retrieved during the 2002 season (Excavations 2002, No. 1268), in an area which had been quarried for gravel. Two test-trenches, C1 and C2, were laid out in the quarried area, close to where the artefacts were found in 2002. However, no archaeological features were located here.

34 Fitzwilliam Place, Dublin 2