2003:1321 - Derrinumera, Mayo

NMI Burial Excavation Records

County: Mayo Site name: Derrinumera

Sites and Monuments Record No.: N/A Licence number: 03E1209

Author: Bernard Guinan, Coosan, Athlone, Co. Westmeath.

Site type: Fulachta fiadh

ITM: E 503821m, N 793179m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 53.879111, -9.462763

During monitoring of topsoil removal as part of the extension to the Derrinumera landfill site near Castlebar, Co. Mayo (No. 1322 below, 03E0257), two irregular deposits of burnt stone were discovered in the townland of Derrinumera. No surface evidence to indicate the presence of the sites was visible prior to commencement of development works in the area. An excavation was carried out during autumn 2003.

Site1
Site 1 was irregular in shape, measuring 11m (north-south) by 16m. Excavation revealed it to be divided into two distinct areas of burnt sandstone. The first (7m by 5.25m) was located to the north-west of the baulk and the second (11.4m by 7.8m) was confined mainly to the south-east of the baulk. The deposit was composed of heat-shattered fragments of burnt sandstone within a charcoal matrix and underlying peat. The mound was shallow, c. 0.02-0.14m. The burnt sandstone sat on a grey/white sandy natural horizon.

Excavation of the site revealed two boiling pits (I and II), both cut into the sandy natural horizon. Boiling Pit I was subcircular in shape and 1.5m long by 1.85m wide, with a maximum excavated depth of 0.41m. The pit was cut into the natural slope of the land and was filled with charcoal-stained peat and heat-fractured sandstones (0.2-0.3m). A thin layer of charcoal (0.01-0.02m) covered two-thirds of the base of the pit. Evidence for a possible watercourse adjacent to the pit was noted.

Boiling Pit II was circular in shape, 1.1m long, 1.1m wide and 0.4m deep. The pit was also cut into the natural slope of the land and had a uniform fill of peat, heat-fractured sandstones (0.2-0.25m) and some charcoal.

Also excavated on Site 1 was a small pit located north of the baulk. It was subcircular (0.4-0.44m in diameter) but shallow (0.15-0.22m). The fill was mainly a silty peat with occasional burnt sandstone and some charcoal flecking.

Site 2
Site 2 had limited deposits of burnt stone (2.6m by 2.2m), which partially overlay a boiling pit. This feature, Boiling Pit III, was subrectangular/oval in shape, 1.25m long, 1.25m wide and 0.22m deep.

The fill of Boiling Pit III contained charcoal-stained peat with compacted heat-fractured sandstones. A thin charcoal layer (0.01-0.02m) was found at the base of the pit. There was also evidence for a possible watercourse beside it.

A single possible struck chert lithic was recovered from the excavations. 14C and archaeobotanical analyses are ongoing.