2004:0078 - TERRYHOOGAN, Armagh

NMI Burial Excavation Records

County: Armagh Site name: TERRYHOOGAN

Sites and Monuments Record No.: N/A Licence number: AE/04/62

Author: Cormac McSparron, Centre for Archaeological Fieldwork

Site type: House - early medieval

Period/Dating: Early Medieval (AD 400-AD 1099)

ITM: E 705673m, N 845450m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 54.346781, -6.374629

The investigations at Terryhoogan, Co. Armagh, were carried out prior to the construction of a private dwelling. The site was located approximately 1km west of Scarva village, on the west side of a drumlin at an altitude of approximately 30m OD. The land gently fell off towards the west into an inter-drumlin valley. The site is within 200m of two early ecclesiastical sites, Relicarn (SMR 14:9) and Ballynaback (SMR 14:10).

Test-trenching at the site by Stiofán Ó Cathmhaoil on behalf of the Environment and Heritage Service: Built Heritage revealed the presence of curvilinear features and a possible pit.

An area of approximately 16m (east-west) by 20.5m was mechanically stripped and manually cleaned to the top of the archaeological features.

A large circular gully was uncovered, approximately 0.7m wide and up to 0.4m deep, with a diameter averaging 8m internally and 9.4m externally. Two small curving gullies ran approximately north-east and north-west from the north of the main gully. They may have joined outside the area being excavated, possibly forming an annex to the main gully. The fill of the circular gully contained souterrain ware-type pottery, which dates approximately from the 7th to the 13th centuries, iron slag and corroded iron objects. The south and south-east of the gully were packed with medium-sized stones and pebbles. The stone packing spread out of the gully to the south and was cut by a linear ditch that ran approximately east-west along the south of the site.

The ditch was approximately 1.5m wide and 1m deep. Souterrain ware-type pottery was recovered from its fill. An elongated pit, 1.4m by 0.8m and 0.35m deep, was found approximately 4m to the north of the circular gully.

The large circular gully showed no evidence of having contained structural timbers or wicker and therefore cannot be considered with any certainty to have been a wall foundation. It could, however, have been a drain or drip channel around an Early Christian round house. The other two curving gullies running approximately north-east and north-west may have been a drain around an annex to a main round house. The stone packing in the gully to the south and south-east of the gully may have functioned as a causeway, which would provide access across the drainage gully but which would still allow the free drainage of water, and may indicate the likely position of the entrance way. If the circular gully was the remains of a drainage gully around a round house then the house itself must have been slightly smaller than the internal diameter of the gully, which averaged approximately 8m. The absence of structural remains within the area enclosed by the circular gully may be explained by the deep ploughing known to have taken place at the site in the recent past.

School of Archaeology and Palaeoecology, Queen's University Belfast