2003:1849 - St Jarlath, Tyrone

NMI Burial Excavation Records

County: Tyrone Site name: St Jarlath

Sites and Monuments Record No.: SMR 62:3 Licence number: AE/03/104

Author: Janet Bell, Centre for Archaeological Fieldwork, School of Archaeology & Palaeoecology, Queen

Site type: Ecclesiastical site

ITM: E 723478m, N 724838m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 53.259510, -6.149278

St Jarlath's Church, Clonfeacle, crowns a roughly circular drumlin in the townland of Tullydowey near Blackwatertown. Ecclesiastic use of this hilltop is said to have commenced in the 6th century, when St Lugaid established a monastery here. To the east of the church is an old graveyard containing headstones from the late 17th century. The modern graveyard, to the south of the church, is being extended into a neighbouring field. Prior to the extension of the graveyard, a programme of archaeological investigations was undertaken.

On the basis of a geophysical survey, an area free of anomalies was identified in the area scheduled for use as the graveyard extension. A north-west/south-east trench, 35m by 10m, was opened to identify any subsurface archaeological remains. After the removal of topsoil by machine, a number of features were found. Running parallel with the stone wall dividing the modern graveyard and the field was a ditch roughly 2m wide, from which 19th-century pottery was recovered. The ditch's fill and lack of defined edges suggested that this was a hedge boundary. In the south-east end of the site another, shallower, ditch was discovered, into which a bowl-shaped feature had been cut. This feature measured 1.6m in diameter and was filled with several charcoal layers capped with a 0.2m-deep layer of clay. In the middle section of the site, two pits contained large amounts of slag, a few pieces of burnt bone and pottery. A fragment of painted mortar was found in the larger of the two pits. At the north-east end of the trench there was a cluster of post-holes cut by a lazy-bed that ran into the north-east section. A flake of flint and fragments of burnt bone were found in the fill of the post-holes.