2003:1486 - Dromore West, Monaghan

NMI Burial Excavation Records

County: Monaghan Site name: Dromore West

Sites and Monuments Record No.: N/A Licence number: 03E0481

Author: Eoin Halpin, Archaeological Development Services, Westlink Enterprise Centre, 30-50 Distillery Street, Belfast BT12 5BJ.

Site type: Fulacht fiadh

ITM: E 659638m, N 815409m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 54.084330, -7.088522

The site is located in the townland of Dromore West, Co. Monaghan, to the north of the town of Cootehill, Co. Cavan. Given the scale of the development, monitoring was recommended.

Three areas of archaeological interest were identified during the monitoring works: Area 1, a linear feature with charcoal-rich fill and in situ burning; Area 2, a possible fulacht fiadh; and Area 3, a charcoal spread. Two of the three areas uncovered consisted of areas of burnt-mound material. The first was an isolated linear feature and the second a pair of pits, covered by a thin spread of blackened soil. The third feature consisted of a slight hollow in the natural in which two similar charcoal-flecked silts survived the effects of plough truncation. No datable finds were recovered from this latter feature and its ephemeral nature would suggest that it represents the very last remnants of a larger archaeological feature of unknown date or function.

The linear feature and pits are united by the fact that all contain blackened soil with heat-cracked stone, classic constituents of the burnt mound or cooking place usually dated to the Bronze Age. It is probable that the area once contained a burnt mound and that, due to agricultural practices in the vicinity, the site has been reduced to thin spreads and deposits surviving within subsoil cut features; in this case, the pair of pits and the linear gully.

It is likely that the more rectangular of the two pits is the remains of the water trough. The adjacent pit may have been for the hearth, although the lack of reddened, heat-scorched soil at the base of the feature makes this hypothesis less likely. It may simply be the remains of a previous trough, since it is known from the excavation of other such sites that invariably burnt mounds are multi-phased.

The function of the linear feature is difficult to assess. While it is clear that some element of in situ burning occurred within the feature, due to plough damage it is impossible to say what percentage of the original site has survived. Suffice it to say that it is unlikely that the occurrence of burnt-mound material within represents an original fill. It is more probable that this feature was an open gully or ditch, with an unknown function, which became filled with the adjacent burnt-mound material when the burnt mound itself was disturbed and spread.