2003:1424 - Testing Area 13, Muckerstown, Meath

NMI Burial Excavation Records

County: Meath Site name: Testing Area 13, Muckerstown

Sites and Monuments Record No.: N/A Licence number: 03E1331

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

Site type: Medieval ditches; burnt mound

ITM: E 707778m, N 749328m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 53.482929, -6.376136

Test excavation was undertaken in advance of the proposed N2 Finglas-Ashbourne road scheme between August and November 2003. The proposed road scheme is approximately 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 Testing Area 13, located at Chainage 9990-10590, possible features of potential were identified in the geophysical survey in the form of two isolated pit anomalies within a quiet level of background response during scanning. In addition, a series of magnetically weak linear responses and trends were noted when surveying adjacent to a series of earthworks in the southern part of the area. It was suggested that they could represent a group of archaeological features that had been damaged by agricultural activity. An area equating to 9.92% cover of the proposed land-take in TA 13 was excavated.

The testing revealed a number of linear ditch features, pits and medieval pottery in the area highlighted by the geophysical survey. A number of the ditches and pits were sectioned and animal bones, charcoal and pottery were recovered. The pottery included Leinster cooking ware, Dublin-type coarseware and fineware, suggesting a possible 12th-14th-century AD date for the site (Clare McCutcheon, pers. comm.).

In addition, a burnt mound c. 12m in diameter was revealed some distance to the north of the medieval features, which had not been identified in the geophysical survey.