2003:1799 - OWEN'S-AND-BIGG'S LOT (Site 30(iii)), Tipperary

NMI Burial Excavation Records

County: Tipperary Site name: OWEN'S-AND-BIGG'S LOT (Site 30(iii))

Sites and Monuments Record No.: N/A Licence number: 03E1086

Author: Joanne Hughes

Site type: Pit, Cist, Burnt mound, Fulacht fia and Cultivations ridges

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

ITM: E 608130m, N 639121m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 52.503423, -7.880243

Phase 2 testing on the N8 Cashel Bypass and N74 Link Road scheme by Neil Fairburn (No. 1719, Excavations 2003, 03E0295) identified substantial archaeological features extending across two fields, between Chainages 2580 and 2900. These fields slope away eastwards from Windmill Hill and a large portion of the site lay below the water table. As a consequence, the low-lying areas were completely flooded in periods of heavy rainfall. A small pond and associated dyke were dredged and the contents metal-detected; nothing of archaeological significance was recovered. The two fields were subsequently topsoil-stripped and the archaeological features resolved into six excavation areas measuring in total c. 24,800m2. The southern field was known locally as 'The Convent Field'.

Area 1
This area was located on the lower east-facing slope of Windmill Hill and is overlooked by the circular enclosure SMR 61:72, known locally as the 'Fairy-Fort'. This hill is also the supposed site of the 13th-century Lazar house, SMR 61:73. Area 1 measured roughly 2400m2 and contained a cremation cemetery of possible Neolithic date. Approximately 24 charcoal-rich pits (on average 0.4m in diameter and up to 0.4m deep) were identified, arranged in a north-south-oriented pattern, with two of the pits intercutting. One of the burials was contained within a small cist-type structure; two pits had distinct clay capping sealing the cremations. Sieving of environmental samples has produced small fragments of possible prehistoric pottery from one pit. Osteological analysis indicated that one pit contained the cremated remains of both an adult and a juvenile; the minimum number of individuals in the cemetery is as yet unknown.

A single large post-hole/stone socket appeared to mark the western limit of the cemetery, but no direct stratigraphic evidence between the cemetery and the post-hole was evident. The southern side of the cemetery appeared to be delimited by an east-west-oriented, shallow, wide ditch, within which a large number of randomly spaced stake-holes were identified. It is unclear if these features are associated with the cemetery. Approximately 2m east of the cemetery, a possible roundhouse (diameter less than 5m) with internal hearth and stake-holes was identified. Two flint hollow scrapers were recovered from within the possible structure. The remaining features included a roughly east-west-oriented ditch and a number of similarly aligned cultivation furrows of probable post-medieval date.

Area 1a (150m2) was located c. 50m north-east of Area 1 and c. 70m to the north of Area 3. A possible pit was identified, which did not provide any diagnostic dating evidence.

Area 1b (c. 2000m2) was located to the south of Area 1, at the southern side of an east-west-oriented extant ditch and associated bank which separated Areas 1 and 1b. This bank and ditch is the same feature which truncated the northern side of the burnt mound in Area 2. An unstratified decorated rim-sherd of Bronze Age pottery was recovered during testing, beside small pits and possible post-holes. These features did not form any recognisable structure or pattern and no diagnostic dating evidence was recovered.

Area 2
Area 2 was located to the south-east of Area 1 and measured c. 3200m2. This area was dominated by a burnt mound surviving largely intact on an elevated (natural) platform. The burnt mound (16m by 16m by 0.4m deep) overlay a semicircular slot-trench (13m long, 0.25 wide and c. 0.2m deep), which survived best at the western side of the platform. A possible entrance through the slot feature was located at the south-eastern side of the platform. Four small post-holes arranged in a rectangular pattern at the entrance area may have had some structural function associated with the slot-trench. The post-holes and the slot were filled with burnt-mound material and showed no evidence of silting. The slot feature was interpreted as a possible ring-ditch, although no evidence of a burial or bone was recovered. However, two shallow internal pits filled with burnt-mound material were identified. An east-west-oriented post-medieval ditch truncated the northern side of the platform, destroying any potential archaeological features at this location.

At the external north-east side of the burnt mound a small number of peat-filled and burnt-stone-filled pits were investigated. One of these pits contained a possible plano-convex flint knife. This pit was located c. 65m south-east of Area 1, where the flint hollow scrapers were found.

Area 3
This area was located east of Area 2 and the central pond and contained three small fulachta fiadh. One fulacht (7m by 4m in diameter) was found at the north-east side of the pond; it was truncated by the dyke and later cultivation furrows.

The second ephemeral spread of fulacht material (7m by 5m in diameter) was identified at the north-west side of the pond. Neither of these features provided dating evidence.

The third fulacht fiadh (6m by 4m by c. 0.3m) contained a burnt-mound spread sealing a possible trough which contained large unworked timbers and a possible wooden pick. This fulacht fiadh was located less than 20m to the north-west of the largest fulacht fiadh in Area 6, which also contained stratified wooden artefacts.

Area 4
This area was located to the south of Area 1 and south-east of Area 2. It contained one large pit (c. 5m by c. 10m in diameter) and a number of smaller pits but provided no dating evidence.

Area 5
This area was located south-west of the pond and west of Area 6. A shallow and ephemeral burnt-mound spread provided no dating evidence; it was truncated by later cultivation furrows.

Area 6
This area was located south-east of the pond and was also the lowest-lying part of the site. It contained a large fulacht fiadh, which measured c. 25m by c. 40m by 0.4m deep. Evidence for metalled surfaces and a possible large trough, delineated by post-and-wattle fencing, was found under the mound. Within this possible trough feature, worked wooden artefacts (a possible totem/part of a ladder) were recovered.

Boscabell, Cashel, Co. Tipperary