2003:1574 - Elphin, Roscommon

NMI Burial Excavation Records

County: Roscommon Site name: Elphin

Sites and Monuments Record No.: SMR 16:127 Licence number: 01E0704 ext.

Author: Christopher Read, North West Archaeological Services Ltd, Cloonfad Cottage, Cloonfad, Carrick-on-Shannon, Co. Leitrim.

Site type: 18th-century kiln

ITM: E 586982m, N 789218m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 53.852267, -8.197854

The proposed development at Elphin, Co. Roscommon, to consist of six townhouses, access and related services, is located just off the main street, facing onto Back Lane, south of the cathedral and graveyard. The site was tested in 2001 (Excavations 2001, No. 1118). During the testing, the possible remains of a kiln were revealed in the west-facing section of Trench 6. As agreed with the Department, an area measuring 10m by 10m around the location of the kiln was topsoil-stripped and the kiln and related features fully excavated. The work was completed in November 2003.

The excavation revealed the remains of a small kiln/furnace, consisting of a rectilinear cut with its edge defined by rough coursed stone. It was orientated east-west and measured 2.3m by 1.4-1.6m (being wider at its western end) and was 0.7m deep. It was partially truncated at its western end by the machine-excavated test-trench in 2001, although it is unlikely that much was removed. The cut for the kiln, which cut the natural subsoil, had a flat base and gently tapering sides. It was filled with three separate deposits. The lowest comprised a dark-red burnt clay, very hard and compact. It was 0.15-0.2m deep and lined the edges of the cut. It was partially sealed by a thin deposit of compact white/grey ash, up to 0.1m deep and found only in the centre of the kiln. This deposit was subsequently sealed by a mixed deposit of fire-reddened clay, ash and fire-cracked stone. This layer was up to 0.4m deep and was the main deposit found within the kiln. This deposit also yielded some crockery, late 18th/early 19th-century in date, and black/green bottle glass.

The southern side of the kiln was bounded by a later stone rubble wall that rested on the natural and partially covered the edge of the kiln. This wall was 0.4m wide and survived to a height of 0.3m, or two courses of stone. It was probably part of a 19th/20th-century shed or outbuilding. While definitively later than the kiln, it is unclear whether the kiln was still in use when the wall was built, although it is unlikely. All features within the area discussed were completely excavated and fully recorded. The kiln is likely to have been related to corn-drying, although no flue was revealed. The wall is later, with both the kiln and the wall being no earlier than the late 18th century in date.