2003:2063 - Ballynattin, Arklow, Wicklow

NMI Burial Excavation Records

County: Wicklow Site name: Ballynattin, Arklow

Sites and Monuments Record No.: N/A Licence number: 03E1692

Author: John Tierney, Eachtra Archaeological Projects, Ballycurreen Industrial Estate, Kinsale Road, Cork.

Site type: Prehistoric

ITM: E 722494m, N 671276m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 52.778595, -6.184330

This work was carried out in advance of the development of the Arklow IDA Enterprise Park at Ballynattin. There is currently a 130m internal main roadway developed within the site that serves to access Euroconnex Technologies. Excavation of this road (and where it continued northwards through the centre of the site) was monitored by Sarah McCutcheon. A 14m-wide corridor along the length of the proposed main access road (stretching from the entrance to the northern roundabout) was excavated for services to be installed. Subsequently, the features (prehistoric enclosure, possibly Bronze Age) unearthed during monitoring were excavated by Eamonn Cotter (Excavations 1998, No. 686, 98E0257). The prehistoric enclosure was situated in the south-east corner of the currently proposed Vitra Tiles site. Immediately east of the Arklow Bypass, a burnt mound was excavated by Anne Connolly in 1997 (Excavations 1997, No. 609, 97E0128). This site is c. 100m to the east of the IDA business park.

Test excavations were carried out on the Haul Road and the proposed Vitra Tiles site in advance of proposed development works at the IDA business and technology park. Several trenches were machine excavated. Trenches 2 and 5 at the western end of the Haul Road contained probable archaeological features. Further testing was carried out on 17 November 2003, when it was discovered that the Vitra Tiles site had been stripped of all topsoil and the position of the Haul Road had been set out. At this time, the extent of the test-trench around the archaeology in Trenches 2 and 5 was extended. This testing yielded five areas which subsequently had to be excavated. These were excavated between 8 and 19 December 2003. Trenches 2 and 5 were extended and excavated as Cuttings 2 and 3. No other potential archaeological features were encountered within the other test-trenches along this road. The geophysical survey of this part of the site indicates no definite evidence for in situ archaeological remains.

There was a small spread of burnt-mound material in the south-east corner of the Vitra Tiles site. This is probably related to the prehistoric enclosure excavated in July 1998. The presence of this feature and a spread of burnt material at the western end of the test-trench indicates the possibility of the presence of archaeological sediments and features in the southern end of the Vitra Tiles site. In Cutting 1, Contexts 77-81 are the remains of heat-shattered stone spreads rather than burnt mounds in the strict sense. The layers may be the result of other episodes of burning. No datable artefacts were recovered from Cutting 1. Contexts 82-84 are heat-shattered stone layers and trough fills which comprise a fulacht fiadh.

Cutting 2 is located on the route of the 'Haul Road' and was formerly Trench 2 of the original testing. Orientated east-west, the excavated area measured 5m by 4m. A number of features, consisting of two slot-trenches, four pits, nine stake-holes and two possible post-holes, were excavated. Four pottery sherds and three pieces of flint were recovered from the testing. Two of the pieces of flint were from Feature 3, which is in the vicinity of the fill of a natural hollow, a stake-hole cut and the fill of a pit. Another came from the cut of a pit. The pits seem to be for containing fire waste; the fills are all similar: pinkish-brown clayey silt with flecks of charcoal. It is not known where the actual fire producing this waste was located, but it was presumably nearby. None of the pits in Cutting 2 were subjected to in situ burning but appear to have been used as rubbish pits. The posts and stakes in the other cuts may have comprised two fences, one orientated north-east/south-west. The other fence comprises a double fence orientated north-west/south-east. A slot-trench is the innermost line of the double fence and Contexts 42, 29, 37, 39 and 6 comprise the outer line of the double fence. Again, the function of these is not certain. The 'corner' where these fences meet may be a post-hole that was dug out after use and backfilled, rather than a pit.

The archaeology in Cutting 2 appears to be broadly contemporary with the enclosure excavated in 1998, which is c. 150m to the north-east, and with the fulachta fiadh uncovered in the vicinity.

Cutting 3 (formerly Trench 5) is located on the route of the 'Haul Road'. The excavated area measures 7m north-south by 5m. The excavated features consist of seven pits, three stake-holes and one ditch. Their function is not certain. There may have been a curved screen providing a possible windbreak (the stake-holes); the function of the pits is unknown. Most of the fills appear to have been subjected to burning. The in situ burning uncovered during testing may be a patch of burnt clay located at the south-east corner of the cutting running under the east baulk. The area burnt was not extensive, but it is likely that the hearth was regularly cleaned and that the debris removed from the hearth was then deposited into the nearby pits. The pit fills may represent the remains of more extensive layers which have been eroded and truncated by ploughing, surviving only because they were deposited into the deeper pits.

The ditch uncovered during testing, Feature 12, may be Context 51. The fill of the ditch contained pieces of possibly worked flint. These may have been disturbed from an area which the ditch truncated or removed during its excavation. The date of the ditch is uncertain, but its function is more than likely to drain water, as the sondage excavated through it filled with water soon after excavation. It is possible that this ditch is similar to the enclosing ditch excavated by Eamonn Cotter, which also contained pieces of worked flint.

The archaeology uncovered in Cuttings 2 and 3 may be the partial remainder of very temporary habitation sites and extends outside the Haul Road both to the south and the north.