2004:0115 - CORNAHILT, Cavan

NMI Burial Excavation Records

County: Cavan Site name: CORNAHILT

Sites and Monuments Record No.: CV038-013 Licence number: 04E1156

Author: Finola O'Carroll, Cultural Resource Development Services Ltd.

Site type: Ringfort - rath

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

ITM: E 652439m, N 791014m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 53.865924, -7.202724

Pre-development testing was undertaken in advance of an application for planning permission for a housing development at Cornahilt, Ballyjamesduff, Co. Cavan. The site is located at The Grove, Cornahilt townland, on the eastern outskirts of Ballyjamesduff village. In its south-eastern corner, the field boundary respects the site of a ringfort. A component of the site could not be tested at this stage as it was covered by a large landfill.

Thirteen trenches were excavated by mechanical excavator fitted with a 2m ditching bucket. These were each 2m wide and of varying lengths but averaged 0.4m in depth. Two separate horizons within the topsoil were universal across the site, an A horizon and a B horizon. The A horizon (uppermost) was composed of sod and mid-brown organic rich silty clay with frequent thread-root inclusions, whereas the B horizon, which was more consolidated, comprised a mid-brown sandy clay.

Trench 10 was positioned parallel to, and 5m from, the field boundary at the northern extent of the site. The trench was excavated 40m from the northeastern corner of the field and extended 32.5m westwards. Midway along it was a feature which was interpreted as a possible palaeo-channel. It occurred at the lowest point in the field. This feature was also picked up in Trench 11, where it was sectioned. Wood was observed in it at a depth of 1.2m below the sod; this was unworked. The feature was not bottomed, due to health and safety considerations. The sides of the feature were gently sloping, the break of slope top was not perceptible, and the presence of a specific cut was not observed.

Two localised charcoal-rich features were observed on both the western and eastern sides of the linear feature. On the western side, 2.8m from the junction between Trench 11 and Trench 13 and extending 0.4m from the south-facing section face, was a small charcoal spread surrounded by an area of oxidised clay. This feature was half sectioned and the spread determined to be no more than 20mm in depth.

A less substantial area of charcoal was witnessed to the east of the grey linear feature and extended beyond the limits of excavation into the north-facing section face. This feature was also surrounded by an area of oxidised clay. No finds were recovered from either of the charcoal spreads.

At the junction of Trenches 12 and 13 and extending across the mid-point of Trench 13 in a north-east/south-west orientation, the grey linear feature continued. The feature maintained a similar width and composition throughout its course along the lowest part of the landscape and was truncated ineach of the trenches in which it was observed by a stone-lined field drain. A sherd of pottery was recovered from within the grey linear feature within Trench 13. This has been provisionally identified as early post-medieval in date, possibly late 17th century. The presence of the charcoal spreads in proximity to a possible palaeo-channel, itself close to a ringfort, may indicate archaeological activity, of as yet unknown date, in the area.

Further testing of the area after the removal of the landfill material was recommended.

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