2015:034 - Bethany Nursing Home, Tyrrellspass, Westmeath

NMI Burial Excavation Records

County: Westmeath Site name: Bethany Nursing Home, Tyrrellspass

Sites and Monuments Record No.: N/A Licence number: 15E0315

Author: Eoin Halpin

Site type: Greenfield development

ITM: E 0m, N 0m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 53.387609, -7.380710

The proposed development, an extension to the existing Bethany Nursing Home, consists of a single storey extension to the northern side of the existing nursery home structure along with a new car park and ancillary site services, including a new sewer pipeline, running north east from the rear of the existing home for 550 m to connect with the main sewer line.

There are no known archaeological sites within the bounds of the proposed development site. The closest such site is Tyrellspass Castle (RMP WM039-001) which is located 70 m to the south.

Archaeological testing, by means of four machine cut trenches across the proposed site of the new nursing home and a fifth trench running the entire 550 m length of the proposed new sewer line, revealed evidence for two distinct land use regimes in the area. The field in which the proposed development is to take place, has a well developed, deep, friable clay-loam topsoil suggesting that this field had been the subject of extensive ploughing and land improvements in the past. In stark contrast, is the field to the north, with its relatively thin topsoil, reed vegetation and gleyed, poorly drained subsoil, suggesting that this field remains relatively unimproved.

Evidence for a number of ploughed out field boundaries were uncovered, which confirm the paper record and the evidence from older OS maps. In addition a number of linear features were uncovered, but all of these are readily interpreted as evidence of relatively modern agricultural activity.

There was no evidence for significant archaeological activity beneath the foot print of the proposed new nursing home, with the variations in subsoil either accounted for as natural or as evidence for agricultural improvements.

The only piece of significant archaeology was uncovered some 150 m distant from the proposed home extension, along the line of the new sewer, in ground close to an area of reeds, suggesting wet or poorly drained conditions. The isolated patch of heat cracked stone, evidences pre-historic cooking activity in the area, in the form of a fulacht fia. This deposit was excavated, recorded and removed. There was no evidence of any other associated activity within the line of the pipe trench, but clearly it is highly likely that further fulacht fia deposits exist close by, but these will be unaffected by the development.

36 Ballywillwill Road, Castlewellan, Co Down. BT31 9LF