NMI Burial Excavation Records


Sites and Monuments Record No.: N/A Licence number: 04E0299

Author: Red Tobin, Margaret Gowen & Co. Ltd, 27 Merrion Square, Dublin 2.

Site type: Burnt mounds

ITM: E 703396m, N 731729m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 53.325706, -6.447892

Excavations were carried out during works on the Griffeen River realignment, part of ongoing infrastructure works within the precincts of the Grange International Business Park. The works are principally aesthetic in purpose, designed to enhance the appearance of the park and to highlight the river, which otherwise would have flowed behind the Takeda Pharmaceuticals complex. The area stripped will also accommodate the extended road network that will serve the business park when it is fully occupied.

Topsoil-stripping for this realignment commenced in early December 2003 and continued intermittently until May 2004. Topsoil-stripping revealed the locations of three burnt mounds. Of these three features, two were excavated, as the development was likely to have a total impact on them. The third mound was preserved in situ, as it was located outside the development area.

The first mound was excavated between 16 and 18 February 2004 and the second was excavated from 5 April 2004.

Burnt Mound 1, 303279.542 231522.602
During the monitoring of the topsoil removal this site was identified as an irregularly shaped deposit of firing material (heat-shattered stone and blackened soil). The burnt-mound material extended 28m east-west along the northern edge of the stripped corridor and extended to the south by 8m from the northern baulk. The feature lay c. 25m to the west of the Griffeen River on gently undulating pasture sloping to the south. The evidence from initial survey work and subsequent excavation suggests that the main spread of this site remains preserved in situ to the south of this location.

The nature and extent of the mound material was exaggerated by plough action, which had dragged it from its original focal point to extend over 28m in length. After the removal of topsoil, etc., the F2 mound of firing material extended little more than 0.5m from the limit of the excavation. From this southern extremity, the mound rose to the north to a maximum height of 0.65m at the northern limit of the excavation. No cut features were exposed during the excavation.

Burnt Mound 2, 303104.7 231270.2
The realigned Griffeen crosses the course of the old river at two locations. To allow for the excavation of the first of these crossings it was necessary to divert the Griffeen into a third channel. During stripping prior to this channel being dug the second burnt mound was found. During the topsoil removal this site was identified as an irregularly shaped deposit of firing material (heat-shattered stone and blackened soil).

The area of excavation measured 13m east-west by 17.5m. A silted-up streambed abutted the southern part of the mound. The stream appears originally to have flowed from east-north-east to south-west. It had a width of 3-5m, but the length could not be discerned as it extended beyond the limit of excavation. The stream fill contained water-rolled stones, pebbles and a dark-grey silt with a minimum depth of 0.1m. Wood residue, possibly alder, was in evidence here and was probably indicative of remnants of fen woodland. This stream system is likely to have been the reason for siting the burnt mound at this location.

One of the earliest features on the site was a grouping of stake-holes cut into the clayey peat. These formed a semicircular band. All were comparable in shape and size and all contained the same fill. They ranged in depth from 5mm to 2mm with a diameter of 6-12mm. Small amounts of heat-affected pebbles and small stones around the sides of the stake-holes may be evidence for packing material. The function of the complex is not clear. Some stake-holes are vertical, while others have been driven into the ground at an angle. They follow a vague northeast to south-west pattern, but the angled stakes do not appear to offer support to each other or to any possible structure.

The burnt mound was situated on the northern bank of the silted up stream. The bank was steepsided. The main concentration of firing material is in the west. No evidence for a trough was found and the only evidence of activity associated with the burnt mound appears to be the stake-hole complex. The mound measured 11m east-west by 4.5m. It is more likely that the original east-west dimensions were closer to being 6m, with a depth of 0.12-0.25m.

Covering and surrounding the burnt mound was a layer of peat measuring 4.64m from north to south by 14.7m, with a surviving depth of 0.2-0.45m. This was a moist dark-reddish-brown peat of moderate compaction that contained inclusions of sphagnum moss, plants and wood. It was most pronounced to the south of the burnt mound, sloping downwards to the stream.

A third burnt mound was recorded during the course of the topsoil-strip. The site was not fully exposed but was identified by a number of concentrations of the characteristic firing material. This site was not impacted on by the development and it was possible to preserve it in situ. It was first sealed using a double layer of geotextile material and then covered by a soil bund forming the boundary between the business park and the pitch-and-putt course.