Marshes Upper
Early Christian settlement
In the latter half of 1981, a six-month excavation and conservation programme was carried out by Dundalk U.D.C. on a souterrain on the southern outskirts of the town. It had been discovered the previous September during the construction of a new inner by-pass road. The souterrain, which was completely intact save a few capstones, consisted of an S-shaped passage 20m in length. Approximately 7m inside the original ramp entrance an elaborate doorway had stood, comprised of wooden jambs recessed into the side-walls and morticed into a lintel beam. The outline of a wooden sill was also noted in the floor. Apart from a shallow pit/depression in the natural fill close to the souterrain entrance, no other features were found. Neither was there any evidence for an enclosing element. The majority of the 200 odd finds were recovered from the rich organic fill of the entrance. They included about 50 sherds of Souterrain Ware, a dozen or so whetstones, a leaf-shaped arrowhead of chert, a small bronze ring-pin and a bronze cruciform belt-buckle tongue. Its circular terminals are decorated with red glass inlays. Radiocarbon samples from two small, shallow charcoal-filled pits in the souterrain floor yielded determinations of 73575 bc and 119075 bc. The conservation work involved casing approximately 20m of the sidewalls in concrete to prevent collapse, installing an iron gate and landscaping the entrance into the roadside verge.
P. Gosling

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