2004:0012 - WHITEPARK ROAD GORTNAMADDY, BALLYCASTLE, Antrim

NMI Burial Excavation Records

County: Antrim Site name: WHITEPARK ROAD GORTNAMADDY, BALLYCASTLE

Sites and Monuments Record No.: N/A Licence number: AE/04/46

Author: Stefanie McMullen, Archaeological Development Services Ltd, Westlink Enterprise Centre, 30-50 Distillery Street, Belfast BT12 5BJ.

Site type: Bronze Age ditch, Neolithic spread and Early Christian pit

ITM: E 710128m, N 940882m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 55.202882, -6.269946

Monitoring of topsoil removal for the accommodation of a Gaelic football pitch took place at Whitepark Road, on the western outskirts of Ballycastle town, during the period of March to May 2004 and uncovered two areas of archaeological interest, the largest located in the eastern area of the site.

Site A consisted primarily of a C-shaped ditch that spanned an internal area of 57m from east to west with the open end facing north. The ditch varied in width from 8.5m to 10m and measured up to 0.3m in depth. The site of this enclosure was located on prominent ground with fine views to the north, south and east, but restricted by the rising ground to the west. The line of the ditch appeared to follow the contours of the field, and so it seems that a natural hollow was scarped as a means of delimiting the area of higher ground. The ditch did not have well-defined terminals and simply faded out as it extended northwards and as the ground levelled out. It was filled with a series of sandy clays and along the southern edge, within its fill, was a deposit of fairly large boulders that together measured 1.4m wide and stretched for most of the length of the ditch. Although there was no surviving evidence of an associated bank, the location of these boulders along the outer edge of the ditch may suggest an external revetment and, as such, an external bank. There was no surviving evidence for archaeological activity within the enclosed area.

A small amount of Bronze Age pottery was recovered from the fills of the ditch, which included good examples of cordoned urns and Irish bowl food vessels. Worked flint was also retrieved from the same fills and comprised high-quality scrapers in particular. A polished stone axe was also found, within the basal topsoil, close to the ditch. Radiocarbon dating of the main ditch fill has indicated a date range of 3753 (35 years) BP, 2295-2122, 2080-2042 BC.

Although no features were uncovered within the enclosed area, various other features were present to the south-east area outside the ditch, including a large, roughly oval-shaped pit that produced a small amount of burnt animal bone fragments and a small amount of charred grains. Radiocarbon dating indicated a date of 1383 (31 years) BP, AD 609-674. Within the same area, two further small, roughly circular pits were located, one of which produced a flint flake and the other some charred grains.

Site B consisted of a shallow, roughly subrectangular pit measuring 4m north-south by 2m (as it remained) by 0.14m in depth. The upper fill of this feature produced two very small fragments of pottery, which may be Neolithic in date, several flint flakes and a possible scraper.