2003:1485 - CLOUGHVALLEY UPPER (1), Monaghan

NMI Burial Excavation Records

County: Monaghan Site name: CLOUGHVALLEY UPPER (1)

Sites and Monuments Record No.: N/A Licence number: 03E1255

Author: Fintan Walsh, Irish Archaeological Consultancy Ltd.

Site type: Burial ground and Pit

Period/Dating: Multi-period

ITM: E 684211m, N 805105m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 53.988333, -6.715914

A 1200m2 excavation in the townland of Cloughvalley Upper, c. 1km to the north of Carrickmacross, was funded by Monaghan County Council and the National Roads Authority in advance of the construction of the 8.137km N2 Carrickmacross–Aclint Road Realignment (main Chainage 9.863–18.320). The excavations were undertaken to ensure that all subsoil archaeological remains were preserved by record in advance of groundwork.

The site comprised a number of inhumation burials and an isolated pit. The pit may date to the early medieval period and was located at the centre of the site, north of the main body of burials. It measured c. 2m north-south and 1m east-west. The pit contained distinctive layers of burning, deposits of charcoal-rich clays and fills containing animal bone. It is probable that this feature was used for cooking and was reused as a refuse pit. Two sherds of possible early medieval pottery were tentatively identified from a lower deposit.

The burials are most likely to date to the post-medieval period. Small private family burial plots were not uncommon in this period and, as this area does not seem to have any affiliation with church land, it seems that this may be the most likely option at this time.

The site comprised a total of around fourteen inhumation burials located in fourteen grave-cuts. The inclusion of a number of disarticulated bones in three of the graves (C43, C49 and C53) may account for a further three individuals. Most of the burials were supine, lying east-west, with the head to the west, and most appeared to have been wrapped in shrouds, judging by the burial posture. It was the case with many burials of that period that the remains were wrapped relatively tightly in the shroud. A fragment of shroud was tentatively identified associated with skeleton SK6 (grave C20, grave fill C19). Most of the remains were adult, but two were child burials (SK3) and (SK12).

Possible evidence of disease was particularly evident in one of the burials (SK9, grave C47). Many of the bones of this skeleton were blackened, particularly around the knees, ankles and right shoulder. This condition was not noted in any of the other burial remains. Most of the graves had an element of stone lining, although the quality of this varied from grave to grave. Two graves, C49 and C51, had possible pillow stones. Two grave-cuts were unused (C6 and C10). Grave C6 cut grave C5, and evidently cut the lower parts of the feet of SK1 in the process. The backfill material in grave C6 (fill C7) contained a small amount of human bone, probably the remains of the feet of SK1. Skeleton SK1 (adult burial) was buried in the same grave as SK3 (child burial), which was immediately under SK1.

One individual (SK8) had the remains of an iron object (possibly a knife) close to the left hand. A second burial (SK11) had two small metal pins located beside/under the vertebrae on the left side of the body. These pins may have been the basis of a clasp for a shroud.

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