2003:1259 - Dundalk Racing Stadium, Dundalk, Louth

NMI Burial Excavation Records

County: Louth Site name: Dundalk Racing Stadium, Dundalk

Sites and Monuments Record No.: N/A Licence number: 02E1650

Author: Dáire Leahy and Ruairí Ó Baoill, Archaeological Development Services Ltd, Unit 48, Westlink Enterprise Centre, 30-50 Distillery S

Site type: Late Neolithic linear ditches, Early Christian or medieval corn-drying kiln

ITM: E 704513m, N 806588m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 53.997945, -6.405957

Excavation was carried out at Dundalk Racing Stadium between 7 April and 21 May 2003. The site is roughly a mile north-east of Dundalk town. The excavation arose because archaeological material was uncovered during monitoring by Caroline Powell of the first phase of redevelopment at the site in October-November 2002 (02E1515).

The remains uncovered consisted of subsoil-cut features, which made linking stratigraphy across the site difficult. Activity on the site was divided into three main phases.

The first phase consisted of a series of linear ditches, oriented north-south, which ran the length of the site (c. 40m). Each of these ditches, measuring between 0.75 and 1.5m in width and with a maximum depth of 0.5m, was found to have been recut on at least one occasion. On artefactual evidence, they appear to date to the prehistoric period. The finds, which consist of a tanged flint arrowhead and plano-convex flint knife, may date the filling of the ditches to the Late Neolithic period. There does, however, remain the possibility that these are residual finds and that these features may date to a later period.

The second phase on the site was marked by the construction of a keyhole corn-drying kiln, with associated structures. The kiln was a maximum of 7m long by 2m wide. Excavation showed there to have been two principal phases of usage. In the first phase the kiln would have operated as a regular keyhole drying kiln. In the second phase two flues were added to the east of the structure, one of which extended into the structure as a feature constructed from coursed stone.

Immediately to the south-west of the kiln, and associated with it, were two semicircular slot-trenches. The trench closest to the kiln measured 6m in diameter, the outer one was 10m in diameter. There was no direct stratigraphical link between these two features, but, whether contemporary or not, it seems that at least one, if not both, may have been the foundations for some form of windbreak structure for the kiln. Alternatively, the inner slot feature may constitute the only surviving evidence for the kiln superstructure. Corn-drying kilns in Ireland are traditionally dated to the Early Christian and medieval periods. Until dating evidence is obtained from the charcoal samples retrieved from within the kiln, the exact date of the structure is uncertain.

The final phase on the site consisted of three pits, each less than 1m in diameter, which lay to the north of the kiln. These features date to the post-medieval period from the pottery found in them. Substantial pieces of timber with iron fittings were also found.

A modern pit, located at the north-eastern corner of the site, contained the remains of a horse or pony. This was not fully excavated, as there was still flesh on the bones and continued excavation may have posed a health risk.