2003:1663 - MAGHERABOY (Site 2D), Sligo

NMI Burial Excavation Records

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

Sites and Monuments Record No.: N/A Licence number: 03E0547

Author: Susan McCabe, Archaeological Consultancy Services Ltd.

Site type: Fulachta fia

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

ITM: E 568708m, N 835655m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 54.268751, -8.480373

As part of numerous excavations along the route of the N4 Sligo Inner Relief Road, a proposed 4.2km stretch of roadway, two fulachta fiadh and associated features were excavated. These sites were identified during testing carried out by Frank Ryan (Excavations 2001, No. 1176, 01E0942). Both were located on the periphery of a low-lying localised peat deposit.

The first comprised a ploughed-out spread of charcoal-enriched sandy silt containing abundant burnt stones. This deposit measured 15m north-south by 12m. Underlying this, numerous subcircular pits of similar dimensions and fill were identified. One pit, measuring 2m in diameter, contained a total of 26 internal stake-holes. While no evidence for a lined trough was present, several of the pits had dimensions capable of fulfilling this function. From these pits, several chert flakes and scrapers and a single chert blade were identified. In addition, a very small quantity of animal bone was found within associated contexts.

The second fulacht fiadh, which lay to the north of the first, measured 17m north-south by 10m. Underlying a deposit of charcoal-enriched silty clay which contained abundant stones, numerous pits and post-holes were identified.

A sequence of three subcircular-shaped pits had been dug, with stake-holes both internally and externally. The upper fill of all three pits was homogenous, leading to the suggestion that the pits were in use concurrently. A later feature occurred in the north-east of this area, clearly cutting the first pit described. This pit differed from those it adjoined. It was subrectangular in shape and contained a post-hole in each corner. It was also considerably shallower than the other adjacent pits. It is proposed that this feature may represent the remains of a trough, with the corner post-holes suggestive of a lining support at its base.

A small hearth or furnace, with clear evidence of two phases of use and in situ burning, was located to the east of this later pit. Directly north of the hearth, three post-holes in linear alignment were excavated and it is suggested they may have served to support a lightweight structure associated with activities around the hearth and/or pits.

Finally, a large pit, measuring 2.2m in diameter and showing evidence of in situ burning, was located beneath the northern extent of the fulacht fiadh material. At the base of this pit, which cut an earlier linear feature, large flat stones had been laid down to form paving. On removal, underlying these stones and cut into the base of the larger pit, a smaller irregularly shaped pit had been cut.

Finds from this fulacht fiadh included a possible chert core, waste flake and a struck chert flake. In addition, a small quantity of animal bone and tooth was recovered. One fragment of long bone from a well-sealed context appeared to have possible butchery marks.

This project was funded by the Irish government under the National Development Plan 2000–2006.

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