2003:1460 - Site 21, Raystown, Meath

NMI Burial Excavation Records

County: Meath Site name: Site 21, Raystown

Sites and Monuments Record No.: N/A Licence number: 03E1229

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

Site type: Early medieval enclosure

ITM: E 704928m, N 751623m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 53.504117, -6.418282

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, trenches were excavated parallel to all rivers/streams.

At Testing Area 21, the geophysical survey indicated a large enclosure complex located on the crest (71m OD) of a limestone ridge overlooking the Broadmeadow River valley. This was confirmed during test excavation carried out in August 2003 by Claire Cotter (No. 1459 above). Testing revealed the site to be early medieval in date, with a cemetery, souterrain and enclosing ditches. Excavation commenced on 1 October 2003 and is continuing.

The features identified to date comprise a small double-ditched enclosure situated on top of the visible rise at the western edge of the site. To date, 41 skeletons have been excavated within and without the enclosure. The majority are oriented east-west, indicating a probable Christian date. At least two skeletons were found to overlie the fill of the outer enclosure ditch, suggesting that space within the enclosure was at a premium, and this is further suggested by the fact that some burials were disturbed by later inhumations.

A number of ditches identified during the geophysical survey and test excavation have been partially excavated and finds from the fills include bone pins, blue glass beads and fragments of bone combs suggestive of an early medieval date. Metalled surfaces and two souterrains have also been partially excavated.