2004:1705 - WOODSTOWN 6, Waterford

County: Waterford Site name: WOODSTOWN 6

Sites and Monuments Record No.: N/A Licence number: 02E0441

Author: Ian Russell, Archaeological Consultancy Services Ltd, Unit 21, Boyne Business Park, Greenhills, Drogheda, Co. Louth.

Site type: Early medieval/Viking

ITM: E 654960m, N 611329m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 52.250932, -7.195079

An excavation was carried out on the location of one proposed culvert at Woodstown 6. Prior to excavation, this area consisted of a standing field boundary hedge with a drainage ditch on each side. The excavation of Culvert 1 was divided into four quadrants (north-east, north-west, south-east and south-west), revealing subsoil-cut archaeological features.

The north-east quadrant contained a Viking warrior grave containing a sword, spearhead and a hone stone, amongst other grave goods. No skeleton was recovered, due to the acidic nature of the soil. A number of isolated post-holes and a kiln were also exposed in this quadrant.

The north-west quadrant contained one pit and one cobbled surface, together with a number of post-medieval features.

The south-east quadrant contained a number of post- and stake-holes, which may have formed part of a timber wall or structure, together with a kiln, four spreads, two linear features and a number of post-medieval features.

The south-west quadrant contained a large deep ditch, a number of smaller ditches, an internal earthen bank, a possible revetment footing and a possible entranceway. Radiocarbon analysis of a number of charcoal samples has indicated that the usage of the large defensive ditch dates to the early medieval period (cal. AD 420-690). A metalworking furnace/kiln was exposed within the ditch above a number of silt layers. After the arrival of the Vikings, the ditch was subsequently recut and strengthened over time. Prior to the Woodstown 6 excavation, there was no known early Viking Age settlement anywhere in County Waterford.

A number of archaeological features were also exposed at Culvert 2, which was stripped of topsoil only. The features were recorded and backfilled using terram and topsoil. The ditch F2437 may represent the return of the large enclosure ditch, while the second ditch, F2450, may also be part of the large enclosure ditch visible in Field 22. A number of possible pits and post-holes were also exposed within Culvert 2 and may be structural or industrial in nature.

The finds analysis indicates that the site was moderately disturbed over time by later agricultural activity, and also probably during the construction of the Waterford-Lismore-Dungarvan railway. Although a large number of finds were recovered from the topsoil during the finds retrieval strategy, their distribution is as a result of this disturbance and cannot be used to indicate the function or potential of the underlying archaeology at each findspot. The high number of metal finds recovered reflects the systematic metal detecting of the disturbed topsoil from each individual test-trench across the site. Similarly, the dry- and wet-sieving analysis of the topsoil recovered quantities of fragmented bone that normally would not be collected from a disturbed context.

It is clear that an early medieval site was present at Woodstown 6 since the 5th century AD, before the arrival of the Vikings in this area, historically attested in the 9th century AD, who took over, redefended and occupied the site, possibly with a large trading-based economy, until the 11th century AD.