2003:1719 - N8 Cashel Bypass and N74 Link Road, Tipperary

NMI Burial Excavation Records

County: Tipperary Site name: N8 Cashel Bypass and N74 Link Road

Sites and Monuments Record No.: N/A Licence number: 03E0295

Author: Neil Fairburn, Cocyn Uchaf, Moelfre, Anglesey, Wales, for Judith Carroll Network Archaeology Ltd.

Site type: Testing

ITM: E 589271m, N 635794m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 52.509444, -7.869444

South Tipperary County Council proposes to construct a new bypass of Cashel town. The scheme involves a 6km bypass route of the town and a 2km link road of the N74. This report presents the results of testing in eight areas of potential, in advance of construction of the road, on behalf of South Tipperary County Council. The work was carried out between March and April 2003.

Testing consisted of a centre trench running the length of the site, with perpendicular trenches on alternate sides every 20m extending the width of the road-take.

Site 1, Ballyknock, Clonmore, Gortmakellis, 209477 142293, Chainage 7500-8550
In 2002 Anne Marie Lennon opened a series of linear test-trenches in the areas at either end of Site 1, in the townlands Ballyknock and Gortmakellis, respectively (Excavations 2002, No. 1704, 02E0286), with further targeted testing taking place at Gortmakellis (Excavations 2002, No. 1730, 02E0287). Both areas showed little or no archaeological activity and it was decided that no further excavation was required. Phase 2 testing works therefore concentrated on the area between these sites, viz. between Chainages 7500 and 8550.

Testing exposed a number of features, including a collection of pits and post-holes in the very north of the site, the remains of a townland boundary wall and a Bronze Age cremation burial with a radiocarbon date of 3460±70 BP/2940-1610 cal. BC (Beta-178282). These three areas were resolved by Liam McKinstry (No 1754 below, 03E0673; No. 1692 above, 03E0727; and No. 1755 below, 03E0740) in Phase 3 of the archaeological investigations.

Site 1a, Ballyknock, 209477 142293, Chainage 7220-7320
Site 1a was scheduled for Phase 2 investigation, as it had not previously been examined during pre-construction testing in 2002. Work was, however, carried out in between the two areas that constituted Testing Area Site 1a (Excavations 2002, No. 1704, 02E0286, Chainage 7080-7300) and further to the north (Excavations 2002, No. 1687, 02E0288, Chainage 7300-7500), which revealed limited and probable post-medieval activity.

Though Phase 1 testing recovered only limited evidence of probable post-medieval activity, it was still felt that there was a potential for more substantial remains dating possibly from either prehistoric or medieval periods. This hypothesis was based primarily upon the six known sites within the area, of which three are enclosures (SMR 61:7) and the remaining three are all ringforts (61:8-10). The three enclosures are to the north-west of Site 1a, while the others are to the west. A secondary consideration was the preliminary findings from two sites excavated by Neil O'Flanagan, Testing Area 5 (No. 1779 below, 03E0299) and Testing Area 7 (No. 1781 below, 03E0300). Both sites had prehistoric activity associated with a ridge of high ground in the townland of Monadreela, to the south of Site 1a.

The results from the Phase 2 investigations reflect those from the previous phase of testing, in that no archaeologically significant remains were uncovered.

Site 25, Hughes' Lot East/Kilscobin/George's Land/Waller's Lot, 209367 140534, Chainage 4530-5720
Archaeological remains were identified in six areas, as well as agricultural activity found throughout Site 25 which consisted of furrows and modern boundary ditches.

The activity in Area 1 consisted of a large deposit of burnt natural subsoil with moderate to heavy inclusions of charcoal.

Area 2 consisted of a wide spread of fulacht fiadh-type material c. 3.6-5.8m wide. Seven other features which resembled post-holes or small pits showed up around the spread and contained similar fulacht fiadh-type material fills. It is possible that these features are the remains of a fulacht fiadh with an associated structure.

Area 3 consisted of five possible post-holes or small pits which were associated with two curvilinear features, as well as an area of loose stone clearance.

Area 4 contained a large concentration of features, including 21 possible pits, post-holes and a curvilinear ditch associated with them. This may suggest that there had been some form of settlement in that area. A small exploratory slot-trench was put through the curvilinear ditch. It proved to be 0.84m wide and 0.55m deep and the cut contained three fills. It was V-shaped in section with a flat but irregular base.

Area 5 contained evidence for another possible settlement. In this area a series of large pits, post-holes and curvilinear features were identified. Two of these features were large oval pits measuring 1m by 1.6m, and around the cut of the features the natural was burnt brick red in colour.

In Area 6, the wall foundations and rubble of an 18th- or 19th-century vernacular house were uncovered. The field boundary to the immediate west of the house had gateposts and iron gates which were clearly not recent. The boundary consisted of a low earthen bank with partial stone revetment on both sides. The bank continued towards the south and then turned to the north-east. At this point it was faced with a stone wall, possibly part of a structure. The bank at this point was around 4-5m wide and 1.2-1.5m in height. The associated ditch was 3.5-4m wide and 2-3m deep. As well as these more recent archaeological features, a possible ploughed-out fulacht fiadh was located in West Trench 56. It was roughly C-shaped in plan and measured 2.3m by 2m.

Site 30, Cooper's Lot/Owen's Lot/Bigg's Lot, 208182 139071, Chainage 2200-4100
Site 30 was located between the Clonmel Road and the main N8 Cork to Dublin road. The site also crosses over the Rian Bó Phádraig (SMR 61:71), thought to be an ancient road from Cashel to Ardmore dating back to the early medieval period. This site was tested by Joanne Hughes (No. 1800 below, 03E1211).

Testing identified three areas of archaeological potential. Area 1, at Chainage point 3960, consisted of three possible post-holes grouped together. The second area identified was between Chainage points 3210 and 3250. Ten features were identified, which were of varying sizes and all had an irregular shape in plan, possibly tree boles. Both of these areas had further work carried out on them by Joanne Hughes (No. 1738 below, 03E0754, and No. 1798 below, 03E0762) in Phase 3 of the investigations.

Area 3 was situated between Chainage points 2600 and 2880. The area was waterlogged and contained a small pond and boggy ground. Around this pond five low fulacht fiadh mounds were uncovered. As well as the fulachta fiadh, fifteen possible pits and post-holes were also identified. These features were found clustered together. The features identified in this area were resolved by Joanne Hughes (No. 1799 below, 03E1086) in Phase 3 of the investigations.

Site 36, Windmill, 207008 139138, Chainage 1230-1720
Site 36, located on the N74 Link Road (Chainage 1230-1720), is an area of archaeological potential within the townland of Windmill. Here the route crosses good agricultural land, generally low-lying but rising steeply from the Windmill road to the hill where SMR 61:73 (site of Leper Hospital) and 61:72 (ringfort) are located.

In excess of 100 potential features were identified during testing, including the remains of two fulachta fiadh, several linear ditches, numerous stake-holes and post-holes, pits, cremation pits, an animal burial, as well as more recent plough furrows and field drains. The features identified were resolved by Joanne Hughes (No. 1836 below, 03E0675) and John Kavanagh (No. 1835 below, 03E0676) in Phase 3 of the investigations.

Site 38, Windmill/Deerpark/Farranamanagh, 206765 139245, Chainage 1800-2140
The topography of Site 38 rises steeply to the north at Chainage 1800, though the gradient becomes much less within c. 60m and levels out at the east-west field boundary, c. 10m north of Chainage 1900. From this vantage point the land rises slightly to the west and gradually falls to the east and north, resulting in commanding views of the Golden Vale to the north-west around to the east.

Testing carried out in April 2003 highlighted two areas of activity: one on the top of the hill and another larger one on the northern slope near to the summit. Both areas contain a collection of pits, post-holes and burnt features. The features identified were resolved by Neil O'Flanagan (No. 1838 below, 03E0760) in Phase 3 of the investigations.

Site 39, Farranamanagh, 206286 139617, Chainage 2240-2460
In 2002 Anne Marie Lennon opened a series of linear test-trenches in the areas at either end of Site 39 (Excavations 2002, No. 1724, 02E0380). Both areas of testing showed little or no archaeological activity and it was decided that no further excavation was required in these areas. Phase 2 testing works therefore concentrated on the area between these sites.

The potential for archaeologically significant remains in this testing area was high due to the topography of the land and the numbers of listed monuments within 500m of the road-take (eight listed monuments, six of which are ringforts or enclosures).

Testing carried out here in April 2003 uncovered several large linear features as well as some possible pits and post-holes. These were resolved by Neil O'Flanagan (No. 1839 below, 03E0757) in Phase 3 of the investigations.

Site 41, Farranamanagh, 206065 139955, Chainage 2600-2920
The density of archaeological sites close to Site 41 and the close proximity of the ringfort SMR 60:84 suggested that the testing area could have high potential for archaeological remains. The work carried out in April 2003 uncovered a number of features, including a burnt mound and a number of pits, stake-holes, post-holes and skeletal remains which were concentrated in the northern portion of the test area. A number of large linear ditches were also uncovered in the southern area which were possibly the remains of an enclosure or a large rectilinear field boundary. The features identified were resolved (No. 1743 below, 03E0674) in Phase 3 of the investigations.