2004:0376 - ARDARA, Donegal

NMI Burial Excavation Records

County: Donegal Site name: ARDARA

Sites and Monuments Record No.: DG073-048 Licence number: 04E1397

Author: Lydia Cagney, Archaeological Consultancy Services Ltd.

Site type: Megalithic structure

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

ITM: E 572758m, N 891373m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 54.769602, -8.423351

Investigation of a large boulder at Ardara, Co. Donegal, was undertaken in response to recommendations made by Aegis Archaeology in a report on testing carried out in March 2002 in advance of the Ardara Sewerage Scheme. Although no direct impact on the monument was to be expected, due to is position being marginally outside the wayleave, it was felt that construction work in the area might have been potentially damaging.

Upon removal of the boulder, a large water-filled cavity was exposed. This was lined with a high quantity of viscose, black peaty material which directly overlay the partially exposed stones. It appeared that much of this material had been deposited after the removal of the topsoil from the area. Heavy rains resulted in much of this material becoming liquid and subsequently infiltrating the cavity. Removal of this material revealed a deliberately constructed outer chamber containing six recumbent stones, three of which were natural, while the remainder seemed to have been placed in situ.

The large capstone which overlay the smaller boulders beneath was an 18 tonne granite boulder. Its maximum dimensions measured 2.96m on its longest axis by 1.96m wide. Its height measured 1.53m. It was roughly trapezoidal in shape and decreased in both height and width when viewed in situ. Extensive cleaning of the bedrock outcrop immediately to its east displayed evidence of sculpting, both by weathering and also possibly by man. This was evident from a cut on its western face which dropped vertically to a horizontal surface leaving a perpendicular scarp that was unlikely to have resulted from glaciation; it is proposed that this scarping was a product of quarrying and may have been the original location of the 'capstone'. The external 'chamber' was roughly oval in shape and comprised a combination of natural bedrock and deliberately deposited stones. These appeared to function as a support structure for the capstone, as opposed to defining a particular space. They varied in size from 0.05m to 0.09m and described a roughly oval space within which a smaller 'chamber' and stone-lined pit were contained. Internally, a roughly penannular configuration of stones set contiguously into the underlying matrix was present immediately south of the only orthostat identified on the site. This 'chamber' was bounded on its western side by two to three courses of drystone walling.

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