Metallurgical waste pit, post-hole
Testing and subsequent monitoring was conducted in September and December 2008 in advance of the construction of an over-bridge on the Limerick–Ennis rail line. The over-bridge replaced an existing level crossing XE046 (‘McCormack’s crossing’) and straddled both sides of the rail line.
The site, in the townland of Mooghaun North, lies immediately south of a conjoined enclosure of probable early medieval date (CL042–077) and 1.6km north of the Bronze Age hillfort at Mooghaun South (CL042–126). The ‘Great Clare Find’, a large hoard of over 150 objects including gorgets, torcs, bracelets, collars, ingots and ‘lock-rings’, was made adjacent to Mooghaun Lough, less than 1km to the south of the present site.
A series of five test-trenches was excavated across the development site utilising a hydraulic excavator with a 1.85m-wide toothless grading bucket. Two of these were located on the eastern side of the rail line and c. 50m south of the conjoined enclosures. No features or finds of archaeological significance were encountered during the excavation of these trenches. On the western side, three trenches were excavated. A number of linear agricultural features of a presumed recent date were found. In the south-western part of the site a small possible post-hole was found, which lay a short distance from a shallow pit. The pit measured 0.76m in length by 0.42m in width and up to 0.12m in depth. It had a wide U-shaped profile and was filled by charcoal-rich soil with frequent metallurgical waste inclusions. There was no direct evidence for in situ burning. The pit was interpreted as a waste pit for metallurgical activity, which may have been associated with the nearby conjoined enclosures and therefore possibly early medieval in date. Samples were retained for post-excavation analysis.
Monitoring of the topsoil-stripping of the site was subsequently undertaken on both sides of the rail line but no further features or finds of archaeological significance were encountered.
Leigh W. Barker, Valerie J. Keeley Ltd, Brehon House, Kilkenny Road, Castlecomer, Co Kilkenny.
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