2008:001 - Belfast international airport, Aldergrove, Antrim

NMI Burial Excavation Records

County: Antrim Site name: Belfast international airport, Aldergrove

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

Author: David Kilner and Siobhan Breen, ADS Ltd, Unit 6, Old Channel Road, Belfast, BT3 9DE.

Site type: Various

ITM: E 715227m, N 881295m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 54.666620, -6.213774

Archaeological investigations were undertaken in the townland of Aldergrove, Co. Antrim, on behalf of Belfast International Airport Ltd. The proposed development is located within an archaeologically sensitive landscape with 23 known sites within a 1km radius. Eighteen of the sites are located west of the proposed development site and the remaining five are towards the east. The majority of these sites, seventeen altogether, are enclosures, while the remaining sites are composed of a court tomb, a barrow, a deserted medieval village, a cropmark, a ‘tooting stone’, an Anglo-Norman motte and bailey and a bivallate rath. Due to the number and proximity of these sites, it was considered that the proposed development site had high archaeological potential.

Works primarily consisted of topsoil-stripping to the subsoil level within three fields. All three fields were adjacent to each other. Two of the fields lay to the south and were separated from each other by a field boundary ditch that ran in a north to south direction. The third field, to the north, was separated from them by a field boundary ditch that ran in an east–west direction. Only the southern part of the northern field was stripped, as the rest of this field had been partly investigated in the first phase of works in this area by Lynsey Morton and Brooke Jamieson, under the licence AE/07/108 (Excavations 2007, No. 2).

The stripping was conducted in two phases to facilitate the separation of the differing qualities of soil. First the upper sod layer and then the lower clay layer were stripped to the subsoil level. The northern field was stripped first and revealed no evidence of archaeological deposits. Stripping then continued in the south-eastern field, which revealed three linear features, fourteen pits/post-holes, three charcoal-rich features and three non-archaeological features. This field was subsequently fully excavated. Stripping in the south-western field revealed a wider range of archaeological deposits. Initial stripping revealed nine linear features and 54 other features. However, before these features could be further investigated, the project was put on hold.