2009:568 - DONAGHMORE, Louth

County: Louth Site name: DONAGHMORE

Sites and Monuments Record No.: LH006–06001 Licence number: C357; E4045

Author: Kieran Campbell, 6 St Ultans, Laytown, Co. Meath.

Site type: Souterrain

ITM: E 700976m, N 807051m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 54.002807, -6.459732

An assessment was carried out on a site for a house at Donaghmore in compliance with a request for further information from Louth County Council. The development was in close proximity to LH006–060, which comprises two souterrains and an enclosure. One of the souterrains, LH006–06001, is a national monument in the guardianship of the State (No. 526) and is open to the public. The souterrain extended into the garden area of the proposed development.

The souterrain was discovered in 1960 during the construction of a County Council cottage and was recorded by Etienne Rynne, then of the National Museum of Ireland (Rynne 1961). A second, unroofed, souterrain (LH006–06002) had been discovered nearby about a quarter of a century previously during the building of a neighbouring cottage to the north. Rynne conducted excavations (E60) on the souterrains over a four-week period in August and September 1965 (Rynne 1965). In addition to uncovering the plan of the unroofed souterrain, Rynne also found, at the entrance, evidence of habitation in the form of two short trenches, a large pit and two post-holes. Finds included numerous sherds of souterrain ware, a bronze pin, a whetstone and iron slag. In 1979, a ditch and some other archaeological features were recorded by Paul Gosling during the installation of a septic tank at the dwelling (Gosling 1979). The ditch, 2.6m wide and 1m deep, was aligned northwest/south-east and is possibly the ditch of an enclosure (LH006–06003). The proposed development was situated 32m downslope from the ditch and outside the presumed enclosure.

A requirement of the ministerial consent was ^that a geophysical survey be conducted to determine the extent of the national monument’ despite the existence of the published plan. The survey (R189), carried out by J.M. Leigh Surveys, identified a number of possible archaeological features in the application area. There was no clear response identifying the souterrain and this suggests that the depth of the passages is below the detectable range of the resistance array. A compass bearing taken in the souterrain entrance passage confirmed that the location as published in the Archaeological Survey of County Louth was correct.

Test-trenches were excavated on 18 August 2009 on the site of the house, garage, driveway and percolation area. The trench spoil was spread out and metal-detected (R194) as directed by the methodology in the consent. Over most of the site, topsoil, 0.2–0.35m deep, directly overlay natural subsoil. A 7m length of ditch, up to 1.1m wide and 0.25m deep and aligned north-east/south-west, was recorded at the southern limit of the site and extended south beyond the limit of the property. Charcoal was noted in the fill but no other inclusions were found in two excavated sections. Finds from the site consisted of six sherds of pottery and two metal objects, all modern.


Gosling, P. 1979 Report on a number of archaeological

features at Donaghmore, Co. Louth.

Topographical Files, NMI. Rynne, E. 1961 Souterrain at Donaghamore, County

Louth. County Louth Archaeological Journal, xiv,

no. 3 (1959), 148–53. Rynne, E. 1965 Report on excavation of souterrains at

Donaghmore, County Louth. Topographical Files, NMI.