2003:1504 - MONANNY 2, Monaghan

NMI Burial Excavation Records

County: Monaghan Site name: MONANNY 2

Sites and Monuments Record No.: N/A Licence number: 03E1254

Author: Fintan Walsh, Irish Archaeological Consultancy Ltd.

Site type: Burnt mound and Hearth

Period/Dating: Prehistoric (12700 BC-AD 400)

ITM: E 684103m, N 805203m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 53.989231, -6.717533

A 2800m2 excavation funded by Monaghan County Council and the National Roads Authority took place in the townland of Monanny, c. 1km to the north of Carrickmacross, in advance of the construction of the 8.137km N2 Carrickmacross–Aclint Road Realignment (main Chainage 9863–18320).

The site type 'burnt mound' is usually attributed to the Bronze Age. The site was identified by a distinct black charcoal-rich clay with frequent heat-fractured stones. This measured 15m north-south by 7.5m and was 0.3m deep (maximum). It got significantly shallower west of the centre of the deposit. The site was beside a river, which defined the site's limits to the east.

The burnt mound sealed a number of cut features. The most significant of these were two troughs. The smaller trough (C17) measured 1.4m north-south by 1.23m by 0.51m deep. It was roughly square in plan but irregular in its south-eastern corner. At the base of the trough, a platform of fourteen timbers was revealed. The individual planks were a maximum of 0.8m long by 0.34m wide. They collectively created a base measuring 1.5m east-west by 1.1m. Eight irregularly spaced, vertically placed, small wooden stakes were uncovered immediately east of the timbers. They were, on average, 0.1m long and 50mm in diameter and may have formed the basis for a wattle structure, perhaps part of a lining for the trough. Unfortunately these stakes only survived on the eastern side of the trough and seemed to be badly truncated. The majority of the eastern limits of the site (along the river's edge) were badly disturbed by dredging.

The trough was mostly filled by a deposit similar to, if not the same as, the overlying burnt-mound material. This fill produced the only stratified find on-site, a flint scraper.

The second larger trough (C18) was 4m north of trough C17. It was roughly square and measured 1.74m north-south by 1.55m. It was not wood-lined but contained a large flat stone at its base which measured c. 1m north-south by 1.25m; this took up c. 75% of the base of the trough. It would have provided a good basis for water retention. The fills of C18 were similar to the sealing burnt-mound deposit. It is possible that this feature also acted as a pond for collecting water for use in the adjacent functioning trough. There was no evidence of any channel connecting this trough to the river, but, as with the rest of the site, the eastern extent of the trough was badly disturbed, perhaps due to dredging of the river.

Six pits were located randomly across the site. They measured, on average, 0.2m deep. These pits were mostly sealed by the burnt-mound material. These shallow features seemed to be of little archaeological significance.

In addition to these pits, two possible post-holes (each c. 0.3m in diameter by 0.5m deep) were uncovered under the sealing burnt mound. They may have supported posts for a temporary shelter, or for hanging meat prior to cooking, if that was the function of the site. The burnt-mound material also sealed two areas of in situ burning, possible hearths C6 and C9. C6 measured 1.04m north-south by 0.65m and consisted of an area of burnt natural, red in colour. C9 was very similar: it measured 1.25m north-south by 0.75m. These may have been the basis for hearths for heating the stones before dropping them into the trough. Both hearths were located at the south of the site close to Trough C17, Hearth C9 being immediately on its edge.

The entire eastern side of the burnt-mound site had been truncated by modern recutting (dredging) of the river channel.

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