Ballair/Moynalty Demesne/Shancarnan, Moynalty
Early Bronze Age settlement and burnt mound
273489 282716
CRDS Ltd have been retained by Meath County Council to act as the archaeological consultants on the bundled wastewater collection system for County Meath in and around Moynalty village for the construction of network pipes, and by SIAC/EPS for the construction of the new wastewater treatment plant on the outskirts of the village and a new pump station in the village. Works commenced in 2008 with the network pipes and the wastewater treatment plant and will continue in 2009 on the network pipes and the pump station. The network pipes in Moynalty consist of 2215 linear metres of pipe trench excavated through three townlands: Ballair, Moynalty Demesne and Shancarnan. The network pipe, for the most part located on roads, runs c. 16m north of St Mary’s church, the site of an earlier church (ME011–013), and c. 100m north-east of Moynalty’s motte (ME011–014). The wastewater treatment plant in Moynalty townland is located outside the village in a greenfield area on the south bank of the Moynalty River. In 2008 no significant archaeological features were found in the network pipe works. Archaeological features were discovered at the wastewater treatment plant. The site was excavated as two areas under an extension to the existing monitoring license: Area 1 on the access road to the plant, located immediately beside a modern farmyard, and Area 2, the site of the treatment plant, located beside the Moynalty River.
Area 1 was divided into sub-areas 1a and 1b. Area 1a (NGR 273296 282358) measured 6.5m by 30m and contained fourteen prehistoric features (cut and fills). These included two small shallow pits ranging from 0.7m to 1.2m long, 0.6m to 1.06m wide and 0.1m to 0.14m deep, one of which contained in situ burning; a truncated possible post-hole measuring 0.5m by 0.3m and 0.23m deep appears to be the only structural element of the site. A narrow (0.6m wide) shallow (0.15m) gully, probably a furrow post-dating the archaeologically significant features, was identified running from north-east to south-west through the site for a distance of 2.6m; it contained a single fill with occasional charcoal flecks and a single flint blade. Two pieces of prehistoric pottery – possibly Beaker pottery but requiring specialist analysis – were also recovered, one from topsoil and one from a possible prehistoric deposit. Several natural hollows in the subsoil were also filled with charcoal-flecked soil. The scattered nature of the features indicates that these were the peripheral remains of a settlement, probably on the immediate south of the excavation.
Area 1b, located some 15m south-west of Area 1a, consisted of a simple north-east/south-west ditch or gully, 6m long, 1.2m wide and 0.48m deep. This ditch contained six fills, which appeared to have accumulated gradually over time. Some fills were rich in charcoal, which may be the remains of burning or a cleaned-out hearth. No artefacts were recovered from the ditch fills, although radiocarbon dating may provide a date for this feature. This appears to have been a boundary of some form.
Area 2 (NGR 273731 282300) consisted of a burnt mound c. 45m south-east of Area 1, at the base of a slope to the Moynalty River. The archaeological material was discovered at the location of a tank in the proposed wastewater treatment plant. Four areas of fire-affected soil were discovered. The features were situated at a depth of c. 0.4–0.7m under topsoil, silt and hill-wash. Burnt-mound material was also identified closer to the river. Further assessment on the site identified shallow deposits, c. 2cm deep, which appear to be outlying material from the burnt mound. The burnt-mound material itself was found to be c. 0.6m deep and consists of a dark-brown sandy clay deposit with charcoal and frequent burnt stone. No archaeological objects were recovered from Area 2. The design of the proposed wastewater treatment plant was altered to avoid impacting on the burnt mound; an area c. 28m by 4.5m overlying the burnt mound was left in place. The location of the tank was moved and the earthen bund between the proposed plant and the Moynalty River was altered to overly the burnt-mound material and preserve it in situ. Five archaeological features were excavated: four burnt deposits and a possible hearth. Samples were taken for dating.
Monitoring of the network pipes and the construction of the pump station will continue in 2009.
Richard Clutterbuck, Cultural Resource Development Services Ltd, Unit 4, Dundrum Business Park, Dundrum, Dublin 14.

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