2003:1378 - Cruicerath, Meath

NMI Burial Excavation Records

County: Meath Site name: Cruicerath

Sites and Monuments Record No.: N/A Licence number: 03E0264

Author: Goorik Dehaene, Glascarn, Ratoath, Co. Meath, for Arch Tech Ltd.

Site type: Medieval

ITM: E 704426m, N 771560m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 53.683321, -6.419185

A programme of excavation was undertaken within the proposed westward extension of Platin Quarry in the townland of Cruicerath, located in north-east Co. Meath. The site is to the west of the present Irish Cement Ltd quarry at Platin, 5km to the south-west of Drogheda and 3km north-north-east of Duleek.

Topsoil removal was monitored (licence number 02E1716). The site was identified as a series of linear features associated with several pits. These features were associated with sherds of medieval pottery. It is suggested that the site comprises a truncated medieval settlement. The entire site is contained within a rectangular area 50m east-west by 20m and is located on a level area at the top of a south-facing slope.

Excavation was carried out between February and April 2003. Approximately 530 sherds of medieval pottery were recovered from ten features.

No stratigraphic relationship can be formed between many of the features recorded. The depth of topsoil overlying this site was very shallow (maximum 0.2m), which has undoubtedly led to disturbance/truncation due to modern agricultural practices. However, the features all respect a common orientation. Two structures, three ditches, three irregular pits and a fulacht fiadh-type trough where excavated.

Structure 1 encloses a rectangular area c. 20m north-south by c. 9.5m. The main element of this feature has been interpreted as a 'drip trench', measuring 0.6-1.3m in width and c. 0.5m in depth. The trench contained five fills, which in turn contained various artefacts (iron, pottery and flint are all represented), the majority of which are medieval pottery sherds. No structural evidence was identified, therefore it is suggested that the feature has been heavily truncated by agricultural activity. It is possible that the structures constructed on this site comprise turf/sod-built walls, which have not been preserved. A shallow hearth (0.14m) to the north of this structure was also identified.

Structure 2 consists of a linear feature similar to the 'drip trench', comprising part of Structure 1; it is F-shaped in plan and is aligned east-west. It measures 14.2m east-west by c. 7m. Two phases have been identified. The first is a U-shaped cut (6m by 0.5m by 0.2m maximum) aligned east-west and forming the small bar of the 'F' shape. This is cut by a later, less regular, shallow cut (1.2-0.1m in width and 0.18-0.06m in depth). The fills of this feature contained medieval pottery.

Also found were ditches filled with various silts and the very occasional sherd of medieval pottery. The profile of these ditches was predominantly V-shaped, and measured c. 1.5m maximum in width and c. 0.5m in depth. They formed boundaries between the structures and also formed the northern limit of the site.

Three features provisionally interpreted as pits have been recorded. They contained stone, charcoal and pottery. They had a maximum length of c. 8.2m and depth of c. 0.4m.

A fulacht fiadh-type trough measuring 1.7m by 0.52m by 0.21m was aligned north-east/south-west. It had vertical edges and a flat base and contained burnt-spread material. No other burnt-spread material was identified on-site.

Initial analysis of the morphology of the features recorded shows some similarities with other medieval rural settlement sites, although detailed comparisons have not yet been undertaken. The material recovered from the site, in particular the pottery sherds, has been provisionally dated to the 13th/14th centuries. No earlier or later pottery has been recovered from the sealed contexts on the site. This indicates the strong possibility that the site fell into disuse after the 14th century.