2018:016 - Ballyglass West, Galway

NMI Burial Excavation Records

County: Galway Site name: Ballyglass West

Sites and Monuments Record No.: GA113-013, GA113-013001, GA113-013002, GA113-013003, GA113-013004 Licence number: C000831, E004909 & R000470

Author: Billy Quinn

Site type: Rectilinear ditches

ITM: E 544399m, N 709739m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 53.135277, -8.830926

An excavation under Ministerial Consent C000831, E004909 & R000470 was undertaken at Ballyglass West, near Ardrahan, County Galway in February 2018. The proposed development is located partially within the ‘zone of notification’ for five recorded monuments including two ringforts and three souterrains (GA113-013, GA113-013001, GA113-013002, GA113-013003, GA113-013004). These monuments are subject to a preservation order made under the National Monuments Acts 1930 to 2014 (PO no. 6/1984) following the development of an agricultural building within GA113-013002 in 1984 resulting in direct impacts on the western half of its interior. The site occupies a low hill that slopes to the south and is to the immediate west of the new M18 motorway.

Initial testing was undertaken on 6 November 2017 using a 13 tonne backhoe digger with a 1.5m toothless, ditching bucket. Five trenches were machine-dug on the proposed footprint of the site, the compound area and the access way. Testing exposed three features. Features 1 and 2 comprised two linear ditches containing some animal bone, oyster shell and periwinkle. Feature 3 was a circular feature with cobble-sized stones and charcoal, this was later determined to be a modern dump. All three were located along the slope of a proposed accessway to a transmission mast.

Feature I, centred on ITM 544420/709720, was a linear ditch, 10.4m in length by 0.65m wide, sloping southwards and orientated north-west/south-east cutting across the northern end of the access track. Following the excavation of a series of test trenches, the ditch was fully dug using a mattock, hoe and shovel. On average the ditch dimensions were 0.68m wide by 0.4m deep with a flat base 0.25-0.37mm wide. Context 5, the fill, was largely sterile with occasional medium to large stones. No finds were retrieved from Feature 1.

Feature 2 was located was located three quarters way along the access road at ITM 544437/709685. This ditch was apparent as a rectilinear, infilled cut with a sharp angled return at its southern limit. The long axis measured 17m by 0.95m wide and had a similar orientation to Feature 1. The short axis was 3.5m long and ran into the western section face.

In advance of full excavation four slot trenches were dug along the ditch's length, three along the long axis and one on the return. The cut for the ditch, Context 6, comprised a well-defined, generally uniform, 0.32m cut with evenly sloping sides (55˚) breaking to a flat base. The fill material, Context 7, was similar in composition and colour to that found in Feature 1 – a reddish brown silt contrasting with the compact, grey-white, natural clay.

Excavation along the length of cut found disarticulated animal bone and dumps of oyster shell, particularly in vicinity of slot trench 4, where a 2kg sample was retrieved. There was occasional medium to large stones along its length.

The ditches were interpreted as early field divisions possibly originally radiating from the nearby ringforts.

Moore Archaeological and Environmental Services Ltd. No 3 Gort Na Ri, Athenry, Co. Galway