2003:1381 - Cruicerath and Carranstown, Meath

NMI Burial Excavation Records

County: Meath Site name: Cruicerath and Carranstown

Sites and Monuments Record No.: N/A Licence number: 03E0465

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

Site type: Fulacht fiadh

ITM: E 704616m, N 772578m

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

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

Topsoil removal in this area was monitored (02E1716) and a large burnt spread was identified. The site is on level ground at the base of a south-facing slope. The subsoil varies in the area of the fulacht site, where it is a clay to the north and a sandy silt to the south. The site is within an irregular-shaped area measuring a maximum of 40m east-west by 35m, at the base of a south-facing slope. It is bisected by the townland boundary between Cruicerath and Carranstown.

Structure 1 comprised 75 stake-holes (diameter 0.04-0.08m) under a burnt spread. They form a semicircular arc with fourteen larger stake-holes in the centre which do not form any identifiable pattern. The stake-holes are contained within an area measuring 8m east-west by 2.5m.

Structure 2 comprises a shallow (maximum 0.3m) irregular burnt spread measuring 2.6m east-west by 2.1m, overlying a series of 37 stake-holes. It filled a shallow rounded depression. The stake-holes form an irregular 'U' shape aligned north-south. This feature has been interpreted as a possible sweathouse.

(Possible) Structure 3 comprised a C-shaped cut, measuring c. 3m by 1.2m, filled with very similar material to the overlying burnt spread. The cut was regular, with vertical edges and a flat base. The feature has been provisionally interpreted as a structure.

Several similar features were excavated during an earlier excavation in Field 3, to the east of the site (Excavations 2002, No. 1434, 02E1306). Three ditches were identified (not including the townland boundary, see below). They cut through the large burnt spread, which covered an irregular area measuring c. 40m (east-west) by c. 35m. It had a maximum depth of 0.3m and is composed of charred material associated with intensely fire-cracked stone (limestone and sandstone, c. 1:1 ratio, the fire-cracked stone measured c. 0.05 by 0.04 by 0.04m). It overlay pits and troughs and was cut by later ditches. A curvilinear ditch defined the southern limit of the feature.

Trough 1 was oval (1.8m north-west/south-east by 1.6m). The fills comprised intensely fire-cracked stone (average 0.03m by 0.09m by 0.04m) overlying and underlying an organic fill containing fire-cracked stone. In the base of the trough eight stake-holes were recorded; these have been provisionally interpreted as the possible remains of an organic (perhaps wattle) trough within the cut.

Subcircular Trough 2 was 0.8m north-west of Trough 1. Evidence for an internal structure formed with stakes (similar to Trough 1) and a possible clay lining was found. A shallow gully linked this feature with Trough 3 (a circular tapered possible trough c. 0.4m to the north-west; see below).

Trough(?) 3 was of a subcircular cut (c. 1.4m in diameter), tapering to the base, filled with burnt spread material. This burnt material formed the upper fills of Trough(?) 4 (below).

Trough(?) 4 was a rectangular cut aligned north-south (measuring 5.45m north-south by 2.75-3.5m), with a large deep (2.2m in diameter and a depth of 2.39m from surface level) circular pit at its northern end. This circular pit was truncated by the townland boundary. It was filled with the same material as Trough(?) 3. The lower fills comprised organic layers. Two stakes where recovered from this organic material.

A shallow rounded pit (1.1m east-west by 0.9m, maximum depth 0.2m) with a shallow (c. 0.1m) gully running eastwards (for up to c. 4.4m, where it is cut by the curvilinear ditch that defines the southern limit of the burnt spread) was also found. The feature also comprises thirteen stake-holes and three post-holes, concentrated around the pit and the western portion of the gully.

The site has been provisionally interpreted as a fulacht fiadh. The exact use of this site, whether domestic, industrial or ritual (or indeed a mixture of all), will be determined through further post-excavation analysis.