2004:0684 - FAIRFIELD, Galway

NMI Burial Excavation Records

County: Galway Site name: FAIRFIELD

Sites and Monuments Record No.: N/A Licence number: 04E1532

Author: Martin Jones, National Roads Design Office, Galway County Council.

Site type: Pit

Period/Dating:

ITM: E 563815m, N 717186m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 53.203870, -8.541631

During a programme of centre-line testing by Jerry O’Sullivan (Excavations 2003, No. 738, 03E0505) a small cut was noted. Testing was carried out in advance of the construction of the proposed N6 Loughrea bypass. The feature lay approximately 1.4km east-north-east of Loughrea town adjacent to the existing N6 road in a landscape of level pasture fields.

The pit was partly excavated at that time and a specific licence was sought to fully excavate it. The cut measured 1.6m (east-west) by 1.18m and a maximum 0.87m in depth. It was cut into bedrock.

The pit took the form of a very simple cut, sub-oval or irregular in plan, with a concave base. This extended some 0.15-0.18m into the sandstone bedrock. A simple stratigraphy was evident within the pit. The primary fill took the form of silty clay containing a very large amount of charcoal, animal bone (some apparently butchered) and saw-cut antler. Fire damage to the sides of the pit and stone within the fill suggested it had been used for cooking. The organic finds were unburnt. Subsequent fills took the form of light-yellow redeposited till containing frequent small stones and gravel, light-brown silty clay containing decayed limestone, mid-brown silty clay containing stone and mid- to dark-brown silty clay containing gravel and occasional stones and charcoal flecks. It seems likely that the pit is of early medieval date, though radiocarbon dating of bone or antler samples would confirm this.

All but the primary fill of the pit were cut by the insertion of a post-medieval or early modern cultivation furrow. The furrow measured 1.21m in maximum width, 0.18m in depth and not less than 11m in length. The cut was filled by light- to mid-brown silty clay containing gravel, stone and a small amount of oyster shell. No ceramics or other diagnostic materials were noted within the fills.

A 10m by 10m area was stripped around the pit during initial testing in an attempt to locate any related features. This area was expanded to some 30m by 30m during full excavation. No related features were evident.