2004:0112 - CORNAGHLERAGH (Site 5), Cavan

NMI Burial Excavation Records

County: Cavan Site name: CORNAGHLERAGH (Site 5)

Sites and Monuments Record No.: N/A Licence number: 04E1172

Author: Ros Ó Maoldúin

Site type: Burnt mound

Period/Dating: Prehistoric (12700 BC-AD 400)

ITM: E 642583m, N 802470m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 53.969769, -7.350977

This excavation was undertaken as part of the archaeological programme for the N3–N55 Cavan link. It was funded by the National Roads Authority through Cavan County Council.

The presence of a burnt spread was initially spotted during testing. It was dark-black and consisted of loosely compacted burnt and fire-cracked stones c. 0.05m by 0.02m by 0.02m in diameter, mixed with charcoal-rich silty-clay. The heated stones were mostly sandstone, with occasional limestone. The spread measured c. 18m by 12m and had a maximum depth of 0.8m. Removal of the burnt-mound material revealed a number of underlying features: a wood-lined trough, a large pit, a semicircular feature slot, a number of heaps of redeposited natural and an area of scorched earth.

The trough was rectangular in plan and had almost vertical sides that broke sharply to a flat base. It measured c. 2.13m by 1.47m and had a maximum depth of 0.46m. Three pieces of timber lay flat on the base of the trough under a fill identical to the overlying mound material. There were five stake-holes cut through the base, one in each corner and an additional one in the north-east corner. They averaged 0.05–0.08m in diameter, and all projected vertically. The large pit was situated just to the east of the trough. It appears to have been dug over a spring and kept filling with water, making excavation difficult. When first revealed, it appeared kidney-shaped in plan. Later it became apparent that there was a smaller interconnecting pit filled by the same material. The feature had gradual breaks of slope at the top and concave sides to the south, convex to the north, breaking gradually on to a flat base sloping slightly from east to west. It measured c. 4.5m by 3.1m and had a maximum depth of c. 0.3m.

The upper part of the pit was filled with burnt-mound material of varying intensity. Both sides had redeposited natural packing, beneath the fulacht deposit, probably placed there during a reshaping or cleaning out of the pit. The basal fill, c. 0.16m in depth, was friable grey silty clay with occasional charcoal flecks. This was overlain by reddish-brown, moderately compact peat containing many small wood fragments and hazelnut shells.

The semicircular slot has been tentatively identified as a windbreak. It measured c. 1m in length, was c. 0.16m wide and had a maximum depth of 0.03m. In plan it formed an arc curving towards the east and partially surrounding the trough. It had a sharp break of slope at the top, and steep, almost vertical, sides which formed a V-shaped base. Like the trough, it was filled with material identical to the overlying burnt-mound material.

The heaps of redeposited natural were situated beside both the trough and large pit. This is almost certainly the upcast material from the original creation of those features.

To the south-east of the site an area of scorched earth was uncovered. This is probably the area where the stones were heated for subsequent use in the fulacht.

13 Larchfield, Kilkenny