2017:040 - Ballynagran, Wicklow

NMI Burial Excavation Records

County: Wicklow Site name: Ballynagran

Sites and Monuments Record No.: N/A Licence number: 16E0379

Author: Martin Fitzpatrick

Site type: Fulacht fiadh and pits

ITM: E 726565m, N 691491m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 52.959245, -6.116172

A regional residual landfill facility located at Ballynagran, Co. Wicklow has being developed in a number of phases over the past twelve years with the land being cleared in advance of each phase. In August and September 2016 monitoring of topsoil stripping associated with the next phase of the development uncovered six areas (Areas A-F) of archaeological significance. Human activity in the form of pits, post-holes and a fulacht fiadh were uncovered.

Significant agricultural remnants in the form of furrows were encountered in Areas C and D.

Areas A, D and E represented cut features filled or partially filled with angular stones. In Area D charcoal was recovered from the fill and should provide a date for this activity.

In Area F an irregular area of dark brown clay and angular heat-fractured stones was found to consist of two individual pits (C100 & C102). Charcoal was also recovered from the fill and will provide dating evidence. Preliminary analysis of the fills revealed no artefacts associated with the pits.

The more concentrated archaeological evidence was uncovered in Areas B and C, both located in the north-east corner of the area stripped of topsoil. In Area B the remains of a burnt mound and associated trough feature were uncovered below the topsoil. The feature had been damaged by both the installation of large concrete pipes and by a concrete animal feeder. It seems that the pipes had been excavated in the area of a naturally occurring spring, which was possibly the reason for the location of the fulacht fiadh at this location. Drainage pipes had also been excavated through the mound causing further disturbance. Despite the considerable disturbance the outline of a horseshoe-shaped mound (14.5m x 13.5m) and associated trough was recorded. The trough feature had been partly removed by the installation of a concrete well however one fragment of timber was recovered from the base. A rectangular cut (C25) was located adjacent to the trough and cut into the natural. It was filled with burnt stone and the base of the feature sloped east, in the direction of the trough. The fill of fragmented burnt stone and charocal suggests it was associated with the burning practised at the fulacht fiadh.

Evidence for a field boundary was identified to the north of Area B and west of Area C. It represents a relic field boundary ditch with a stone drain at the base. The feature originally joined with the existing field boundary ditch but was subsequently filled in.

Area C was noteworthy for the concentrated agricultural activity in the form of furrows. It is interesting to note that the furrows as recorded were of different widths and depths indicating different digging episodes. Three areas of darker stained deposits (C65-C67) had been cut by the furrows. Below these areas a number of slots and possible stake-holes/post-holes had been excavated into the natural (C4). The definite outline of a structure could not be ascertained from the surviving cuts, however it may have functioned as a temporary shelter. One flint scraper was recovered from this area immediately adjacent to C66.

In general few artefacts were recovered from the areas during topsoil stripping and subsequent resolution with the majority comprisig of natural flint nodules and a number of flint flakes. A few fragments of modern pottery, glass and iron were also recovered in the course of topsoil stripping and subsequent excavations.

Athenry, County Galway