2007:1935 - Ballybuckley, Wexford

County: Wexford Site name: Ballybuckley

Sites and Monuments Record No.: N/A Licence number: 07E0397

Author: Annette Quinn, Tobar Archaeological Services, Saleen, Midleton, Cork.

Site type: Medieval

ITM: E 694813m, N 633551m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 52.445194, -6.605300

The proposed development consists of a stone quarry measuring 16ha which will be located within an overall site boundary. The project was carried out on behalf of the Irish Concrete Federation and O’Rourke Bros Ltd. Testing was undertaken in order to establish if subsurface archaeological remains possibly associated with the adjacent hillfort (WX025–034) existed within the proposed development area and the degree to which these remains would be impacted on by the quarry. The testing concentrated on geophysical anomalies which had previously been detected on the site. Nine test-trenches were excavated.

One linear feature (F1) was exposed in Trench 1 just to the west of a geophysical linear anomaly in this area. A small section was excavated across the linear feature. The fill consisted of a mid-brown silty sand with occasional charcoal flecks. No datable finds were recovered from the fill. Another feature (F2) was exposed 1m to the east of F1 in Trench 1. It consisted of a shallow cut containing a mid-brown/orange fill, similar to the boulder clay. The latter had a consistent 0.3m depth throughout and a flat base. No datable finds were recovered from the fill. F2 measured 3.6m in width (east–west) and was excavated to a maximum depth of 0.3m.

Several potential archaeological features were uncovered within Trenches 7–9. Some of the features appeared to correspond to geophysical anomalies while others did not. A preliminary examination of the artefactual evidence recovered would suggest that Trenches 7–9 are located in an area associated with medieval activity. Trench 8 was located centrally within the survey area and was orientated north–south. The trench measured 41.4m in length, 2.3m in width and was excavated to the level of the boulder clay (0.4m) or to the top of any archaeological features. A number of archaeological features were exposed within Trench 8. At the north end of the trench a wide linear feature (F4) was exposed and cut the natural boulder clay. It extended across the trench for 2.3m in an east-north-east/west-south-west orientation and measured 2.5m in width. A section was excavated by hand across the width of the feature. It was filled with two deposits which overlay a stone-lined drain. The upper fill consisted of a mid-brown sandy silt with charcoal and stones (0.24m in thickness). The fill also contained several sherds of medieval pottery. A preliminary examination of the pottery by Clare McCutcheon confirmed that it is Leinster cooking ware, which dates to the late 12th to early 13th century. The second fill (0.15m in thickness) appeared to abut the upright stones of the stone-lined drain which was cut into the base of F4. The drain itself consisted of a narrow U-shaped cut which had been lined with upright stones and capped with medium-sized stones. The drain measured 0.5m in width and 0.3m in height/depth.

A possible bank or break of slope in the natural (F5) was located to the north of F4. It appeared to have a higher concentration of stone and appeared more compact than the surrounding boulder clay. The latter is a tentative interpretation, as this field has undergone intensive cultivation in recent centuries and the possible bank may be highly truncated by ploughing. Further investigation would be necessary to confirm its status as a bank.

F6 was a large earth-cut feature located further to the south of F4 and F5. F6 appeared to be cut by F7 (see below), rendering it difficult to define the exact limits of the feature without full excavation. The portion exposed measured 5.2m (north–south) by 2.3m. F7 consisted of a curvilinear or right-angled feature possibly cutting the southern edge of F6. A small section was excavated by hand across the feature to establish the nature and possible date. F7 contained one main fill, which consisted of an orange/brown sandy silt with charcoal flecks and stones. Sherds of medieval pottery (Leinster cooking ware) were also recovered from this fill towards the base of the feature. The cut had a sharp break of slope at the top, particularly on the north-east side, which was almost vertical. F7 had a rounded base and a U-shaped profile. This feature may curve towards the east-north-east, cutting F6, but full excavation would be necessary to confirm this. F7 measured 0.95m in width and was exposed for a length of 2.3m. It measured 0.6m in depth.

Two additional possible archaeological features were exposed towards the southern end of the trench but were not investigated. It is likely that they are associated with the medieval features uncovered further to the north.

Trench 9 was located to the south-west of Trench 8 and incorporated some features specified as geophysical anomalies. Trench 9 was orientated north-west/south-east and measured 43.4m in length, 2.3m in width and was excavated to the level of the boulder clay and the top of any potential archaeological features. F9 was located at the south-east end of the trench and consisted of a large modern drainage feature. A modern ceramic pipe was uncovered at the base of the drain. It measured 2.9m wide (north-east/south-west) and measured c. 1m in depth. At the north-west end of the trench a section was excavated across another linear feature (F10) which was exposed after the removal of topsoil. The feature was orientated north-east/south-west and measured 1.3m in width and 0.2m in depth. It was filled with a loose stony material containing fifteen sherds of medieval pottery (Leinster cooking ware) similar to those found in Trench 8.

The overall impacts of quarrying on the archaeological features exposed were addressed in the report and the latter was submitted to the DoEHLG and the National Museum for consideration.