2016:028 - The Mart, Church Hill and Circular Road, Ennistimon, Clare

NMI Burial Excavation Records

County: Clare Site name: The Mart, Church Hill and Circular Road, Ennistimon

Sites and Monuments Record No.: CL015-144 Licence number: 16E0126

Author: Gill McLoughlin

Site type: Possible Children's Burial Ground

ITM: E 513214m, N 688452m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 52.939847, -9.291135

Testing was carried out in relation to a proposed development at The Mart, Church Hill and Circular Road, Ennistimon, Co. Clare (Planning Refs.: Clare Co. Co. 15/20, An Bord Pleanála Pl 03.245262). The development comprised the demolition of the existing mart buildings on site and the construction of a single storey discount foodstore. The development site is located in an undulating landscape on the east side of Ennistimon town, bounded by Church Hill to the south, Circular Road to the east and by houses and their gardens to the west. Testing followed a desktop report carried out by Courtney Deery Heritage Consultancy in advance of planning (McLoughlin, 2015). At that time there were no recorded sites within the development area and the archaeological potential of the site was deemed to be low. Monitoring of groundworks post-demolition was recommended in the pre-planning report. Planning permission was granted in July 2015 with an archaeological monitoring condition and the decision to grant was subsequently appealed to An Bord Pleanála. In August 2015 the DAHG was informed of the presence of a burial ground for un-baptised children within the footprint of the proposed development site and this was added to the SMR (CL015-144). The information for the burial ground consisted of local knowledge and tradition in the form of a sworn affidavit by a local man. An oral hearing was held in November 2015 and the decision to grant was upheld with conditions which included a requirement for an archaeological impact assessment, including test trenches to be carried out. Testing took place on 18 April 2016 and no features, finds or deposits of archaeological interest were identified and there were no burials or indications that there had ever been any burials within the tested areas.

The area subjected to testing at the south-west end of the site was covered in a layer of hardcore. Below the hardcore, the soils were quite disturbed with much of the topsoil across the site having been removed in the past. At the upper (south-west) part of the site the hardcore directly overlay natural subsoil while lower down the slope under the hardcore there was, in places, a layer of mixed redeposited natural gravelly soil which overlay patchy deposits of a former topsoil layer. The remnants of the topsoil layer was not consistent across the site and ranged from just shallow patches, to 0.1m deep to 0.25m deep. This former topsoil layer contained frequent modern inclusions such as plastic, glass, delph and some animal bones from large mammals (cattle). Undisturbed natural subsoil was identified at between 0.3-0.6m deep. Based on the survival of some large mammal bones (cattle) in the former topsoil layer it is thought that the soil conditions on the site would have been favourable for the preservation of burials had there been any there in the past.

Courtney Deery Heritage Consultancy, Lynwood House, Ballinteer Road, Dublin 16