2003:1661 - MAGHERABOY (Site 2B), Sligo

NMI Burial Excavation Records

County: Sligo Site name: MAGHERABOY (Site 2B)

Sites and Monuments Record No.: SL014-125---- and SL014-282---- Licence number: 03E0536

Author: Tara O'Neill, Archaeological Consultancy Services

Site type: Ringfort - rath and Causewayed enclosure

Period/Dating: Multi-period

ITM: E 568599m, N 834991m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 54.262776, -8.481979

Testing was carried out in advance of construction along the route of the proposed N4 Sligo Inner Relief Road and County Extension. This site was identified by Mary Henry Ltd in April 2001 as a potential ploughed-out ringfort/barrow during a field survey of the proposed route. Subsequent testing carried out by Frank Ryan in 2001 confirmed the feature as being of archaeological significance (Excavations 2001, No. 1171, 01E1063). The proposed road will impact on approximately half of this site, which was subsequently designated Site 2B and was excavated between April and June 2003.

Topsoil-stripping revealed two concentrations of archaeological activity, including an early medieval ringfort with a number of associated features and part of a Neolithic causewayed enclosure and associated features. The causewayed enclosure partially enclosed c. five acres of the hilltop, with c. 2.5 acres being excavated. The continuation of the Neolithic causewayed enclosure and palisade trench outside of Site 2B were resolved by Ed Danaher as Site 2C (No. 1662, Excavations 2003, 03E0538).

The ringfort enclosure ditch was located at the side of a steep south-facing slope and contained large amounts of stone, representing evidence for the collapse of an internal stone wall. The curvilinear enclosure extended from the north-western baulk of the site and continued in almost a complete semicircle in a south-east/south/south-west direction. It terminated c. 2.75m from the south-western baulk and at this point measured 37 linear metres from the north-western extent of the ditch. The arc of the semicircle measured a maximum of 16m away from the western baulk of the site. The ditch contained a number of silt deposits, which revealed that it had gradually silted up over a long period of time; it showed no evidence of being recut. A ring pin was retrieved from a lower deposit within the ditch fill, while an apparently relocated flint arrowhead was retrieved from one of the upper fills. Internal features included pits, spreads, linear features, a post-hole concentration representing a structure and a stone surface. The latter produced a metal brooch.

Two terminals of the Neolithic causewayed enclosure ditch were exposed at the south and south-eastern extents of Site 2B. That at the south-western extent of the site measured 2m in width and disappeared into the baulk after 8m. The second ditch was located 5.8m away, with a causeway bridging the gap between the two. This ditch segment measured 1.7m in width and 23m in length. It was orientated east-west for c. 8m and then curved slightly at its eastern extent and aligned itself on a north-west/south-east axis. These both contained a large amount of stone, which had been thrown into the ditch, and silt had subsequently built up, backfilling the ditch. A large quantity of Neolithic pottery was recovered from the ditch, along with a collection of lithics, including flint and chert scrapers, a flint arrowhead and an array of debitage. The internal palisade trench, which would have supported upright timber posts and planks, was cut by the ringfort and ran beyond the extents of the site to the west and south-east. This palisade measured 37m in total length and reached a maximum depth of 0.42m. Its eastern extent was excavated as part of Site 2C, where a rectangular structure abutted the trench. The trench was situated c. 3m from the ditch and was aligned on the same axis. A flint scraper was retrieved from this trench. Next to Donegore Hill in Co. Antrim, this represents the only other example of a Neolithic causewayed enclosure in Ireland.

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