2013:077 - Ballyburn Upper, Kildare

NMI Burial Excavation Records

County: Kildare Site name: Ballyburn Upper

Sites and Monuments Record No.: N/A Licence number: 13E045

Author: Ross MacLeod

Site type: Medieval bivallate enclosure with souterrain, burials

ITM: E 676760m, N 681912m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 52.882607, -6.859535

Excavations were carried out on behalf of Dan Morrissey (IRL) Ltd at Ballyburn Upper, Co. Kildare from 2 April to 19 June 2013. The works were undertaken in advance of a new quarry development. These works represent the third phase of archaeological excavation at the site.?

An initial geophysical investigation of this site was carried out by Earthsound Archaeological Geophysics in April 2008 using magnetic gradiometry. This work identified a number of potential archaeological features. Subsequent work at the site consisted of an archaeological assessment, including text excavation, undertaken from 1‐4 December 2008 under excavation licence 08E0634.?

A second phase of excavation undertaken by Nial O’Neill of Rubicon Heritage Services Ltd and took place from 22 March to 17 April 2009 under excavation licence 09E0128.? Excavation took place in four distinct areas (Areas A‐D). This work uncovered numerous pits and other associated features dating primarily from the early medieval period and associated with industrial activity. One pit returned a radiocarbon date from the late Bronze Age (O’Neill 2009).

The current phase of works represents the third and most extensive phase of archaeological work at the site. This phase focused on features identified from geophysical survey and interpreted as being a multivallate enclosure, with a possible second enclosure a short distance to the west. Horizontal extents of these features were assessed during phase one, however vertical stratigraphy was not assessed as per the terms of the excavation licence.

Subsequent excavation of these features revealed a bivallate enclosure with substantial ditches with extensive evidence for human habitation in the interior including an earth‐cut souterrain. Evidence for industrial activity was also uncovered between the two enclosing ditches. The potential second enclosure identified by the geophysical survey and subsequent assessment proved to be a single shallow, curvilinear ditch which is presumed to be contemporary with the bivallate enclosure.

An extensive array of artefacts of early medieval type were recovered during the course of the excavation including whittle‐tanged knives, copper alloy pins, one ringed pin, bone pins, bone comb fragments, lignite bracelet fragments, a single blue glass bead and ground‐stone objects.

The disarticulated remains of an adult male (including elements of the skull and long bones) were excavated from the inner ditch in the vicinity of the entrance on the eastern side. The disarticulated remains of two juveniles were uncovered in close proximity to one another within the inner ditch fill on the south‐western side. Within the interior of the enclosure a single articulated male skeleton was uncovered. This inhumation was interred in a flexed position.

A considerable assemblage of animal bone was recovered from the ditch fills and also the fills of other cut features throughout the site. Metallurgical debris was also found on the site indicating that metalworking was taking place.

Further analysis of the results of the excavation is required to refine the interpretation of the sites.

Rubicon Heritage Services Ltd, Unit 2, Europa Enterprise Park, Midleton, Co. Cork.