2004:0436 - CROFT ROAD, HOLYWOOD, Down

NMI Burial Excavation Records

County: Down Site name: CROFT ROAD, HOLYWOOD

Sites and Monuments Record No.: N/A Licence number: AE/04/039

Author: Colin Dunlop, Northern Archaeological Consultancy Ltd, Farset Enterprise Park, 638 Springfield Road, Belfast BT12 7DY.

Site type: Bronze Age and Early Christian

ITM: E 740801m, N 878875m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 54.638405, -5.818778

Two test-trenches were excavated within the gardens of 37 and 39 Croft Road, at the behest of the EHS, with the aim of defining the extent of the archaeological material that had been previously discovered by Proudfoot in his 1959 excavations and identified as a rath. The trenches were 2m wide (where conditions allowed), with the longer trench being 50m in length and the shorter 20m. The trenches cut across a relatively flat plateau, which fell steeply along its north-east and south-west boundaries and shallowly to the north-west. Finds, in the form of Bronze Age and Early Christian pottery and poorly worked Bronze Age flint, were recovered along the length of both trenches.

Archaeological material revealed on the ground’s surface was clustered into three distinct areas. Area 1 was a small hearth 3m in length, Area 2 was a mix of stone and charcoal and Area 3 was an area of pavement similar to that described by Proudfoot. All of these areas produced pottery and flint similar to that discovered in the topsoil, forming an assemblage that combined Bronze Age and Early Christian material. Proudfoot speculated that a bank and ditch surrounded the site. Invasive excavation at the furthest extent of all the trenches revealed a number of 20th-century drainage pipes but no evidence for a ditch anywhere along the perimeter of the site. Area 4, a heavy clay and stony rubble layer, may be the material Proudfoot used as evidence for his ditch, but in section it is far from diagnostic.

Proudfoot in his report suggested that a rath with a substantial ditch was situated within the confines of the development site. Excavation revealed several features, within a discrete area, on the flat plateau of the hill. The association between these features could not be established within the limits of this excavation. Their presence, however, tells us that some form of settlement activity occurred upon this plateau and, as the material recovered was a mix of Bronze Age and Early Christian, it suggests that the features may relate to different periods of activity on the site. The test-trenching revealed no evidence for Proudfoot’s ditch and scant evidence for a bank. It would seem quite likely that he mistook the natural contours of the land for these features. One is therefore left with a relatively small area of identified archaeology, some 15m by 30m in extent. This does not, however, allow one to identify all the archaeology within the area of the development but gives a clearer idea of what lies upon this flat plateau.

Following test-trenching, three hearths, four postholes, four stake-holes, one pit and an unusual feature (possibly a pit with animal disturbance) were excavated. There was a great deal of plant/tree disturbance evident. Post-excavation work is ongoing.