2003:1361 - Site 15, Baltrasna, Meath

NMI Burial Excavation Records

County: Meath Site name: Site 15, Baltrasna

Sites and Monuments Record No.: N/A Licence number: 03E1361

Author: Stuart Halliday, Judith Carroll Network Archaeology Ltd, 13 Anglesea Street, Dublin 2.

Site type: Fulachta fiadh

ITM: E 707101m, N 750473m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 53.493351, -6.385939

Test excavation was undertaken in advance of the proposed N2 Finglas-Ashbourne road scheme between August and November 2003. The proposed road scheme is c. 17km long, commencing at the M50 interchange in Dublin and extending to the townland of Rath, north of Ashbourne, Co. Meath. The route avoids all the recorded sites in the area, but a small number of possible archaeological sites were identified in the line of the route as part of the EIS carried out by Valerie J. Keeley Ltd. A subsequent geophysical survey carried out by GSB Prospection Ltd and Margaret Gowen Ltd in 2002 identified further new sites along the route.

Based on the results of these surveys the route was divided into 31 testing areas, so that the possible sites and the whole of the remainder of the route could be investigated through testing. This generally involved mechanically excavating 2m-wide trenches along the centre-line with perpendicular offsets every 20m across the width of the land-take. In addition, test-trenches were excavated parallel to all rivers/streams.

Testing Area 15, located at Chainage 400-95, is within 20m of an enclosure and souterrain, SMR 45:26. The geophysical survey indicated a broad and irregular group of anomalies that are typically produced by natural soil variations but could also represent ploughed-out earthworks. An area equating to an approximate 7.02% cover of the proposed land-take in TA 15 was excavated.

The testing revealed two spreads of burnt material. The first was a distinct ‘burnt mound’, measuring 9.3m by 7m, whilst close to the south was a smaller burnt spread, measuring just 2m by 1.5m. The burnt mound was truncated by two machine-cut field drains. A small sondage, excavated across the burnt mound, revealed a 0.14m-thick layer of burnt shattered sandstone pieces and charcoal. Other features identified included a shallow, subrectangular depression (0.7m by 0.5m by 0.06m deep) containing burnt sandstone pieces, a small pit and a burnt spread (4m by 2m) lying immediately north of the pit, and an irregularly shaped pit with a charcoal-rich fill measuring 0.24m by 0.18m by 0.07m deep.