2003:1974 - Site 1, Kilbeggan, Westmeath

NMI Burial Excavation Records

County: Westmeath Site name: Site 1, Kilbeggan

Sites and Monuments Record No.: SMR 38:17 Licence number: 03E1503

Author: Alan Hayden, Archaeological Projects Ltd, 27 Coulson Avenue, Rathgar, Dublin 6.

Site type: Fulacht fiadh, grain-drying kiln, early medieval monastic site, Cistercian abbey, medieval and post-medieval field systems

ITM: E 633304m, N 735396m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 53.367712, -7.499592

A proposal to build a housing estate south of Kilbeggan prompted Dúchas to request that the area, which probably contained the remains of the abbey (the west half of the site), be first geophysically surveyed and then tested. The geophysical survey carried out by GeoArc Ltd revealed that the complete footprint of the now-vanished Cistercian abbey survived at the north-west corner of the site. The site was also wrapped around an early medieval monastery, which is still in use as a graveyard.

Testing was undertaken of features revealed at a distance from the abbey, as the area around the abbey was not to be developed. The remains of a ploughed-out fulacht fiadh with a single trough was the earliest feature uncovered. The next earliest was probably a small keyhole-shaped grain-drying kiln and pits and ditches near to the early medieval ecclesiastic site.

The remaining excavated features appeared to be connected with agriculture and consisted of ditches, cultivation furrows and field boundaries of medieval to post-medieval date. Some of the geophysical features also proved to be of natural origin.

The other half of the site was subsequently geophysically surveyed. This has revealed more features of possible interest and these will be explored in 2004.