NMI Burial Excavation Records

County: Cavan Site name: CORNAGLERAGH/OLDTOWN

Sites and Monuments Record No.: SMR 25:30 Licence number: 04E0343 and exts.

Author: Christopher Read, North West Archaeological Services, Cloonfad Cottage, Cloonfad, Carrick-on-Shannon, Co. Leitrim.

Site type: Prehistoric spread

ITM: E 643118m, N 802002m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 53.965511, -7.342894

The proposed development at Cornagleragh/Oldtown is to include the construction of 76 houses, 36 apartments and related access roads and services. The site is outside Cavan town and near a ringfort just north of the northern site boundary. The site was tested through the excavation of twelve trenches. One area of potential archaeology was revealed in Trench 10, near its northern end. Some small spreads of charcoal and a possible small cut feature were identified in the natural. This may be the result of modern activity. Towards the southern end of Trench 3, a subcircular spread of charcoal-enriched soil measuring 0.6m north-south by 0.5m was revealed cutting the natural. Sitting directly on top of the spread was a piece of decorated Beaker pottery. The fill of the pit comprises black/brown charcoal-enriched soil.

Under an extension to the licence, topsoil removal from a portion of the site was monitored, in addition to the excavation of the features described above. It was proposed that an area measuring 5m by 5m be excavated manually around the burnt spread identified in Trench 3 and that all features exposed be fully excavated. The 5m by 5m area excavated revealed a small spread of charcoal-enriched soil, between 0.06-0.09m deep, not much bigger than that identified during the testing. It was irregular in shape and its full extent measured 0.95m north-south by 0.65m. A further area of slightly darker clay was exposed extending east from the burnt spread, measuring 2.4m east-west by 1.2m, and this contained some charcoal flecking. No further archaeological features were identified in the 5m by 5m area and thus, as proposed, a 20m by 20m area was opened by machine. No further archaeology was found within this area.

The feature that yielded the sherd of pottery was fully excavated. Upon its initial exposure, it had the appearance of an irregular cut filled with charcoal-enriched soil with the sherd of pottery sitting directly on top. However, on excavation, it became clear that the spread showed no evidence of a related cut. No further finds were revealed. There was no evidence for in situ burning. It is likely that this deposit, including the sherd of pottery, was part of a larger area of activity removed some time in the past or that it is a simple dump of material that may indicate more archaeological activity in the vicinity.

A second area of archaeological potential at the northern end of the site, located in Trench 10 during the testing, was further investigated. The potential archaeology comprised possible burning mixed throughout the topsoil. An area measuring 10m by 10m was excavated by machine. No further evidence of the burning, the likely result of recent activity, was revealed.