2004:0461 - SITE 9:1, GRANGE, BALDOYLE, Dublin

NMI Burial Excavation Records

County: Dublin Site name: SITE 9:1, GRANGE, BALDOYLE

Sites and Monuments Record No.: N/A Licence number: 04E0367

Author: Stuart D. Elder, The Archaeology Company, Birr Technology Centre, Mill Island, Birr, Co. Offaly.

Site type: Burnt mound and associated features

ITM: E 724541m, N 740359m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 53.398671, -6.127252

Site 9:1 was situated in the shallow valley between the two east-west eskers running into the centre of the new town development site. Found during topsoil-stripping, it comprised a complex of pits and stake-holes, with cobbling and associated burnt-mound spread.

Four pits were present in the northern half of the site, each containing a single fill. With the exception of one pit, they were all lined to some degree by a clay deposit, which was present across much of the northern half. Three of the pits may be interpreted as boiling pits, given that they were filled by charcoal and heat-shattered stone deposits, whilst a much smaller pit may have been for related activity, possibly blanching or cooling.

Seventeen stake-holes were excavated, most of which were inserted through the clay deposit, but three were sealed by this layer.

The burnt mound comprised a collection of discrete spreads of dark-greyish-brown/black silty clay containing frequent angular heat-shattered stone fragments and moderate to frequent fragments of charcoal. It was evident chiefly in the north-eastern corner of the site, between a cobble layer, and the northern baulk, and with a large irregular-shaped patch in the south-western corner. It sealed all of the other features but was overlain by the cobbles. This deposit yielded a possible hammer stone and some flint debitage.

A band of cobbling was noted along the southern extreme of the site, truncating the clay deposit and overlying the burnt-mound spread in places. It measured in excess of 4m east-west (extended beyond the confines of the cutting), was 1.8m wide and 0.09m deep. It comprised unburnt sub-angular and sub-rounded stones of up to 0.12m in diameter.

This has been interpreted as a fulacht fiadh site. The inclusions of burnt stone and charcoal fragmentswithin the primary deposits overlying the site, and filling the majority of the cut features, indicates that there was once a large mound of such material present that was subsequently lost to agriculture. Compared to Site 6:4 (No. 460 above, 04E0704), the pits lack the uniformity and the internal stake-holes of troughs proper, but, whereas the former site was situated on higher, drier ground, Site 9:1 was located on the very edge of the present marsh and was, therefore, predisposed to the natural filling of the pits. The need not to have used a separate container for holding water may explain the irregularity of the pits.

The stake-holes are intriguing but enigmatic at this stage; there were seventeen in all, four in the first phase and thirteen in the second. The first four were sealed by the clay layer, which is itself enigmatic, as it is uncertain if this represents an accumulated deposit or if it was a deliberate attempt to introduce a firmer, drier working surface. The stake-holes inserted into the clay layer were clustered together in two groups, roughly half to the south-east of one pit and the remainder to the south-west of another. This suggests that they formed a splayed fence-like structure between the pits and the cobbled surface, possibly indicating an entrance into the working area.

Cobbling has been found elsewhere and has been interpreted as either a surface or a pathway. Two such examples are Dunmore, Co. Down, excavated by Audrey Gahan, where two burnt-mound sites were linked by a cobbled pathway (Excavations 1999, No. 149), and a 3m-long cobbled pathway linking two sites at Tullahedy, Co. Tipperary, excavated by Richard O'Brien (Excavations 1998, No. 628, 98E0540).