2004:0651 - MOORETOWN NORTH, SWORDS, Dublin

NMI Burial Excavation Records

County: Dublin Site name: MOORETOWN NORTH, SWORDS

Sites and Monuments Record No.: N/A Licence number: 04E0543

Author: Stuart Halliday, Arch-Tech Ltd, 32 Fitzwilliam Place, Dublin 2.

Site type: Early medieval enclosure

ITM: E 716305m, N 747585m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 53.465462, -6.248367

Testing was carried out as a pre-planning exercise. Eighteen trenches were excavated using a mechanical excavator fitted with a toothless bucket. A series of archaeological features were identified.

A programme of geophysical survey (licence 04R023) highlighted that the western field of the proposed development area held a high potential for containing significant archaeological remains. The results indicated that an enclosure ditch previously identified in the townland of Oldtown and tested by Christine Baker (Excavations 2003, No. 654, 03E1080) should continue through this area.

The inner enclosure ditch was identified in three trenches (Trenches 1, 2 and 6) and correlated directly with that identified on the geophysical survey. It was only excavated to its base in Trench 1, where it was found to have a maximum depth of 0.9m. Its width at that point was 3m and two fills were identified. The basal fill of the ditch was a thin layer of charcoal-rich silty clay containing animal bone and a sherd of possible souterrain ware, indicating an early medieval date for the feature. Above this basal layer, the main fill was indicative of redeposited natural subsoil containing frequent charcoal and occasional animal bone.

The evidence from the inner enclosure ditch suggests that this feature is probably early medieval in date, although this supposition is based solely on onesherd of probable souterrain ware and an abundance of animal bone. No features were identified on the interior of the ditch to suggest its function.

Trench 6 yielded a number of other features on the exterior of the inner ditch to indicate that definite human activity was taking place around this feature. Stake-holes, post-holes and pits were all identified, although no artefacts were retrieved from them to suggest a date range.

A possible curvilinear feature was identified during the geophysical survey to the south-east of the inner enclosure ditch. This was identified in Trench 5 and excavated to a depth of 0.6m before being stopped by the height of the water table. The full extent of this feature was not identified during testing and its function was not clear. As with the inner enclosure ditch, finds from the fills were restricted to animal bone.

To the south of the curvilinear feature, another ditch was identified in Trench 4. It was only partially exposed and finds were the same as those retrieved from the other ditches. It was interesting to note that this feature was not identified during the geophysical survey.

Also of note in the western field was that the results from the geophysical survey in Oldtown suggested that the outer enclosure ditch should be coming through on the south-eastern side of the western field of this proposed development. This was not noted on the recent geophysics or during testing; the location of this ditch remains unclear at present.

In addition to the above features, a possible rectangular feature was identified on the southeastern side of the inner enclosure ditch. Trench 4 was excavated in order to locate this feature. However, this feature was not identified and its form and function remain unclear at present. Similarly, a number of spikes presented in the geophysics were not identified during the trial testing.

The results from the trial testing in the eastern field were completely different from those in the western field. The geophysical survey suggested that a possible circular feature existed at the western edge of the field and this was supported by an aerial photograph. A trench was excavated across this area (Trench 12), but no evidence was found for this feature.

The only features in the eastern field comprised a drain running north-south in the north-west corner of the field and modern plastic pipes in the southeastern corner of the field. No features or deposits of archaeological significance were identified in this field.