2003:2064 - Ferrybank, Arklow, Wicklow

NMI Burial Excavation Records

County: Wicklow Site name: Ferrybank, Arklow

Sites and Monuments Record No.: N/A Licence number: 03E0737

Author: Kieran Campbell, 6 St Ultan's, Laytown, Drogheda, for Boland Archaeological Services Ltd.

Site type: Foreshore and salt marsh

ITM: E 725281m, N 673791m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 52.800552, -6.142089

Monitoring took place from 27 May to 11 June 2003 during the excavation of a trench for electricity cables at Ferrybank, Arklow. The laying of electricity cables was associated with the proposed offshore Arklow Wind Park being constructed by G.E. Wind Energy. The overall route of the cable trench ran from a landfall on the North Pier at the mouth of Arklow Harbour to an ESB substation at Killiniskyduff, a distance of c. 3.2km. However, monitoring was required only on that section of the trench which ran along the former foreshore and reclaimed salt marsh (i.e. from the North Pier to where the trench joined the Brittas road, a distance of c. 1800m). The monitored stretch of trench excavation was located entirely within the townland of Ferrybank.

The cable trench, 0.6m wide and 1.2-1.4m deep, was excavated by a JCB in lengths of 100-150m per day. Four 110mm-diameter plastic ducts were laid in the trench, which was backfilled at the end of each day. Monitoring revealed that the fill excavated from the cable trench over the southern half of the route along the quay and Mill Road, comprising stone rubble and industrial waste, clinker, etc., was datable to the latter half of the 20th century. The modern date of the material exposed may be explained by the shallowness of the excavation, a maximum depth of 1.4m, which did not extend down to the original sea and foreshore level.

Monitoring over the northern half of the trench route recorded the reclaimed salt marsh level, with 20th-century landfill, including modern household rubbish, overlying it. Since 1987, a large protective rock armour embankment has been constructed on the seaward side of the salt marsh, which is now reclaimed as a park. A pond shown within the salt marsh on the 6-inch OS map of the early 1900s has been retained. At the north end of the pond, in a 5m length of the trench, many fragments from large ‘chemical stoneware’ vessels occurred within sand at a depth of 0.6-0.9m. The vessels were flat-bottomed, straight-sided containers, c. 290mm in diameter and at least 200mm high, with large squared rims over which fitted heavy overlapping lids. Lids and vessel sides bore an oval stamp, ‘DOULTON & Co. LIMITED LAMBETH’. The proximity of the findspot, a matter of c. 150-200m, to the site of Kynoch’s munitions factory, which was in operation from 1895 to 1918, raises the possibility of the vessels being from that source. A short length of an above-ground concrete tunnel structure close to the cable trench route is one of the few surviving remnants of the factory.

On the ground rising up to the Brittas road, natural sand was encountered directly under topsoil and sod for most of the length of the trench.