2003:1380 - Cruicerath and Carranstown, Meath

NMI Burial Excavation Records

County: Meath Site name: Cruicerath and Carranstown

Sites and Monuments Record No.: N/A Licence number: 02E1716 ext. 2

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

Site type: Monitoring

ITM: E 704616m, N 772578m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 53.692423, -6.415959

Monitoring was undertaken in August and September 2003 within the area of the proposed westward extension of Platin Quarry in the townlands of Cruicerath and Carranstown, in north-east Co. Meath, under a further extension to the licence. The site is located c. 5km to the south-west of Drogheda and c. 3km north-north-east of Duleek. All topsoil removal was carried out by 360¼ mechanical excavators employing toothless buckets.

This phase of monitoring is subsequent to assessment, investigation and excavation, including cultural heritage report (Baker 1999), test excavation (Excavations 2002, Nos 1434, 02E1306, and 1435, 02E1586, 03E0789 and 03E0790), geophysical survey (02R0119), monitoring (02E1716 and 02E1716 ext. 1, No. 1379 above) and excavation (No. 1378 above, 03E0264, and No. 1381 below, 03E0465). Prehistoric and medieval material has been identified within the areas investigated.

The soil composition in these fields made identification of some of the features difficult. Some of the features only became apparent after a period of exposure and oxidisation.

F1 measured c. 12m north-south by c. 22m and formed an irregular semicircle. The full extent was not exposed, as it continues beyond the limit of the area monitored to the north.

F2 comprised a rectangular Neolithic structure. It was aligned north-south and measured c. 8m by c. 5m. Two sherds of prehistoric pottery recovered from this feature have been provisionally dated to the Early Neolithic; flint debitage was also recovered.

F3 comprised a ditch/gully aligned north-west/south-east. It measured 15m in length and contained a compact grey sandy silt. It may continue to the north (possibly joining F4, below) and to the south, but was not evident during preliminary assessment.

F4 is c. 3m west of F3 and comprises a similar ditch/gully. It was aligned north-west/south-east, with two intersecting gullies aligned east-west. It intersected F1 from where it runs south-eastwards.

F5 was a ditch to the west of F4. It ran from the west of the enclosure F1 south-eastwards to the southern limit of the area monitored. It has been provisionally interpreted as a relict field boundary.

F6 was circular, c. 12m in diameter, and contained a compact yellowish-grey clay. It was c. 30m south-west of F2, the Neolithic structure. A fragment of possible prehistoric pottery was recovered from the fill. Due to its proximity to F2, this feature has been provisionally interpreted as a possible prehistoric structure; however, no post-holes or other structural remains have been identified.

F7 was a small circular pit with a rounded base containing burnt-spread material. It was located west of F4 and east of F5.

F8 consisted of two small deposits of burnt-spread material (both contained within an area 7.5m by 5m). No further assessment was undertaken on this feature, but a higher recovery of struck chert and flint was evident in its vicinity.

F9 and F10 were two ditches in the west of Field 10. F9 was aligned north-west/south-east and was evident across the entire width of the field. F10 was aligned north-south and extended from the southern boundary of the field northwards for c. 40m. These features have been interpreted as relict field boundaries.

F11 can be divided into two sub-features: two short parallel linear cut features c. 9m apart. The first of these comprised a dark friable clay containing charcoal within a well-defined although irregular cut, measuring 3.5m (north-south) by 0.8m. The second was smaller (c. 2m by 0.81m) and contained similar material. Several pieces of worked chert and flint were associated with this feature. F11 has provisionally been interpreted as the possible truncated remains of a prehistoric structure.

F12 consisted of an arc (c. 7m in length) of burnt and charred material associated with a small area (1.1m by 0.7m) provisionally interpreted as a hearth. The arc forms at most a quarter of a circle; it is proposed that the arc may be part of a circular feature, 6m in diameter, with the 'hearth' in the centre. The 'hearth' comprised two large (0.2m by 0.2m by 0.1m) burnt and broken stones overlying burnt clay and associated with charcoal.

F13 comprised two ditches/gullies associated with a subrectangular deposit of mid-brown silty clay (a possible working surface). They consisted of narrow linear cuts (maximum 0.65m) containing a brownish-red sandy silt with charcoal. The ditches intersect, forming a right angle measuring 7m north-south by 13m. The southern portion of these features is less substantial than the northern. Flint debitage and chert have been identified associated with F13.

F14 was a possible metalled area around F12, 13, 15 and 16. The stones were poorly sorted and may be a natural deposit, but a large volume of worked flint and chert was evident within the limits of this area (measuring c. 35m north-south by c. 30m); prehistoric pottery was also evident. It is suggested that this feature is a prehistoric workspace.

F15 consisted of a small pit east of F12 within F14. The pit measured 0.8m north-south by 0.5m and contained burnt material.

F16 also comprised a small pit containing burnt material within F14. It is c. 4m north-east of F15. The pit is not fully exposed and continues eastwards beyond the limit of the area monitored. The exposed portion measures 1m north-south by 0.9m.

These features have been provisionally interpreted as the remains of a prehistoric settlement.