2003:1362 - Testing Area 17, Baltrasna, Meath

NMI Burial Excavation Records

County: Meath Site name: Testing Area 17, Baltrasna

Sites and Monuments Record No.: N/A Licence number: 03E1354

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

Site type: Ditches, possibly medieval

ITM: E 706328m, N 750123m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 53.490364, -6.397699

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.

In Test Area 17, located at Chainage 11800-12025, the aerial survey carried out by Margaret Gowen Ltd and the geophysical survey identified probable archaeological features, possibly a medieval field system. The geophysical survey identified a group of possibly three partial enclosures with a number of well-defined pit-type anomalies indicative of settlement activity. An area equating to 6.3% cover of the proposed land-take in TA 17 was excavated.

The testing revealed the remains of possible medieval and/or post-medieval field enclosures, which correlated very closely with the results of the geophysical survey. All of the ditches appear to have functioned as drains, judging by their form, size (2-3m wide and over 1.5m deep) and relationships, although one large ditch displayed characteristics of defensive earthworks. The same ditch produced a 17th/18th-century glass bottle fragment, which dated the ditch’s construction to this period. The general lack of anthropogenic material from within the excavated features, however, indicates that the site is removed from domestic settlement.