2003:1441 - Nobber, Meath

NMI Burial Excavation Records

County: Meath Site name: Nobber

Sites and Monuments Record No.: SMR 5:69 Licence number: 03E0995

Author: Daniel Noonan, The Archaeology Company, Birr Technology Centre, Mill Island, Birr, Co. Offaly.

Site type: Limekiln; working surface?

ITM: E 682438m, N 786526m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 53.821707, -6.747940

An assessment of unmonitored groundworks at Nobber, Co. Meath, was carried out to bring the development of two houses into compliance with the archaeological condition of their respective planning permissions. An initial walkover of the site identified a potential feature in the south section face of the foundations dug for House 2. Ten test-trenches were machine excavated and finished by hand. Trench 2, located on the line of the surface run-off trench, exposed part of a possible small limekiln of potential late 17th- to early 18th-century date. The construction works associated with House 1 did not impact on any known archaeological material.

A feature in the southern section of House 2 measured 6.5m east-west and was present at an average depth of 0.3m below subsoil. It consisted of two distinct layers. The upper layer was dark-brown gritty silt containing occasional freshwater oyster shell and bone and was 0.2m thick. The lower layer was greyish-brown, stony, slightly clayey silt that oxidised to light-grey when exposed to air; it varied in thickness from 0.2 to 0.25m. A partial quadrant of a broken medieval two-colour square tile was recovered from the lower layer. The surface of the upper layer was further uncovered in Trench 9.

The presence of a stony layer beneath a silty layer suggests that the feature was some form of working surface. It is possible that the feature was a hard-stand created in otherwise wet or boggy ground, the current route of the River Dee and Nobber Bridge are less than 20m to the west. This area around Nobber is geologically known to have had large areas of standing water. The hard-stand may have been part of a fording point across the Dee. More of this feature was uncovered in Trench 9, where it appears to narrow to a width of 4.5m and ran beyond the trench to the south. Inspection of the baulks created by the unmonitored excavation of the house footprint did not contain this feature and it must be assumed that its northern extent has been removed, but it did extend a long distance to the north. The presence of a fragment of medieval floor tile in the lower layer is significant, in that the material may have been removed as rubble from a high-status building somewhere in the vicinity. Whether such a structure was part of the nearby motte-and-bailey complex or the tile came from a building in the village such as the church is open to conjecture.