2004:0483 - CHERRYHOUND, Dublin

NMI Burial Excavation Records

County: Dublin Site name: CHERRYHOUND

Sites and Monuments Record No.: N/A Licence number: 03E1360 ext.

Author: Laurence McGowan, for Cultural Resource Development Services Ltd, Unit 4, Dundrum Business Park, Dublin 14.

Site type: Early medieval corn-drying kiln

ITM: E 709586m, N 743839m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 53.433250, -6.350811

This site was excavated from 1 March to 13 April 2004 under an extension of the testing licence, at the request of Meath County Council, as part of a programme of archaeological mitigation in advance of the proposed N2 Finglas-Ashbourne road scheme in counties Dublin and Meath (see Appendix II).

The site was on top of a hillock that rises from 73.085m OD to 84.124m OD, at Chainage 4500m. At this point the land levels out and forms a gently undulating plateau that extends northwards for c. 400m. Excavation uncovered what appears to be a nucleated industrial site running for c. 35m from west to east along the ridge of the hill. The activity was centred on two clear foci.

The first was in the eastern half of the site, centred on two enigmatic barbell-shaped features consisting of two circular post-holes or small pits connected by a thin channel running between them. One of these produced roughly one quarter of the wall section of a barrel-shaped vessel, probably souterrain ware, that had been placed intact on its base. These marked the northernmost area of activity within an enclosed area that was defined by a sequence of post-holes on its southern and eastern sides and a steep-sided slot-trench to the west that seemed to represent a windbreak. Within this area there appeared to have been a platform or raised structure (possibly a small grain silo) supported by a U-shaped concentration of stake- and post-holes. This activity may have been connected with metalworking, although exactly what stage of this process was carried out here remains unclear. This assertion is supported by the presence of several sherds of a crucible together with small fragments of copper or copper-alloy in a nearby pit feature.

Immediately north-east of this enclosed area, two narrow linear features, filled by charcoal-rich silty clay that contained a very high proportion of heat-shattered stones, ran parallel for c. 6m.

The second phase of activity was centred on a cereal-dying kiln uncovered in the western part of the site. This kiln had silted up and then been cleaned out and reused on several occasions. On at least one occasion it appears that the kiln was deliberately backfilled using natural subsoil sourced from the area immediately to its west. This process had left behind a random grouping of subrectangular pits that had been allowed to silt up naturally. These were then cut through by a smaller keyhole-shaped kiln with no flue; this represented the last phase of activity on the site. During this final episode of use the kiln had collapsed, trapping the full sequence of activity within the matrix. This included one deposit that consisted of a latticework of wooden stakes that most probably represented a drying rack or some other part of the superstructure of the kiln. Although this final phase of kiln activity is later than the windbreak structure in the north-eastern part of the site, it appears that only a very brief period of time had passed between the two phases. Samples from this site have been selected for dating and post-excavation analysis.