2004:0204 - CASTLE WARREN, BARNAHELY, Cork

NMI Burial Excavation Records

County: Cork Site name: CASTLE WARREN, BARNAHELY

Sites and Monuments Record No.: SMR 87:52(01) Licence number: 04E0774

Author: Ken Hanley, Project Archaeologist, National Roads Office, Richmond, Glanmire, Co. Cork.

Site type: Testing

ITM: E 577261m, N 563758m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 51.825598, -8.329877

Cork County Council proposes to construct a dual carriageway from Cork to Ringaskiddy, which is an area of expanding industrial development supported by a deepwater shipping berth. As part of the route selection process the National Roads Office in Cork considered several route corridor options. The alignment of one such option passed close to Castle Warren (otherwise known as Barnahely Castle) and to the nearby Barnahely graveyard (SMR 87:51).

Test-trenching was undertaken, from late July to mid-August 2004, in the general area surrounding Castle Warren. This was part of a series of site investigation methods intended to assess the archaeological potential of lands adjacent to Castle Warren. Other methods included a geophysical survey (04R065), a topographical survey and a building survey.

Testing typically involved the insertion of 2mwide centre-line trenches with regular offshoots averaging every 10m on alternate sides. A total of 63 trenches (T1-T63) were inserted across six discrete study areas, Areas A-F.

Overall, testing revealed the surrounding area to be largely devoid of archaeological remains. Areas A and C revealed no evidence of archaeological activity. Area B encompassed the greater part of a partially extant early 19th-century walled garden located to the west of Castle Warren. Overall, some isolated features were identified which appeared to relate to the use of the garden. No earlier features of archaeological significance were identified.

In Area D, the only feature of potential consisted of an isolated stake-hole and shallow pit of suspected prehistoric date, identified in the southern end of Trench 1. The upper sloping ground to the southwest of the castle contained 0.4-1m of modern fill, including plastic and other debris. The crest of the hill to the west of the castle complex had exposed surface bedrock. Modern concrete shed foundations were noted, but there was no evidence of a 19th-century O’Sullivan house.

Area E revealed clusters of recent parallel furrows criss-crossing the study area. A wide ditch cut was identified in trenches T29 and T33. The ditch ran in a west-south-west/east-north-east direction along the base of a slight valley between the higher ground to the north and south. It contained high concentrations of unworked stone towards its base and was interpreted as a field drain. It produced no finds and is assumed to be post-medieval/early modern in date, although an earlier date cannot be ruled out. Virtually all of the features identified in Area E are considered to be agricultural in nature. Testing did not reveal any evidence of domestic/settlement activity.

In general, Area F revealed a similar pattern of agricultural land use. However, some parallel ditches (possibly garden plots) were identified to the east of the castle, a finding supported by geophysical results. Testing failed to produce any dating evidence for the ditches. The only other sign of archaeological activity from Area F was in the form of a single charcoal-flecked pit in T38 and a stray find of medieval green-glazed pottery from the topsoil.