Meath
2008:977
Oldbridge
Testing
306132 275041
08E0506
The study area was located immediately east of the M1 motorway and south of the River Boyne. It comprised four fields, covering an area of c. 64 acres, under grassland and tillage. The works under this licence included the excavation of 99 test-trenches (50 by 2m) and the metal detecting of all resultant spoil. This work was preceded by a desk-based assessment and a geophysical survey (07R190). It is notable that the site lies within the wider Battle of the Boyne landscape, some 350m east of the core area (ME020–025), and may be where King William crossed the river. The density of known prehistoric remains within the locality, particularly of Bronze Age date, found during the pre-construction stages of the adjacent M1 motorway, is also pertinent.
A large Middle Bronze Age enclosure was discovered in the northern field (Field 3). A ring-ditch and two cremations, also of likely Bronze Age date, were discovered in the southernmost (Field 1).
Field 1 contained 48 of the trenches. Six contained definite archaeology, 22 contained remains of potential archaeological interest and 20 contained no remains of archaeological interest. The definite remains comprised two cremations, a ring-ditch, a pit containing prehistoric pottery, a pit containing a cache of prehistoric worked flint and a pit with in situ burning. The potential remains comprised ditches and pits of unknown antiquity, many of which may be of post-medieval or modern date. It is notable that a number of those undated ditches in the north-east of the field did appear to be sealed beneath the non-natural subsoil, suggesting some antiquity.
Along with the ring-ditch and a number of other smaller anomalies, the geophysical survey revealed a rectangular relic field system in the centre of Field 1. It was encountered seven times and excavated in six cases but did not reveal any dating evidence. An additional trench was stripped along a length of this feature and a further 3m section was excavated by hand, specifically to attempt retrieval of dating evidence, but none was discovered. It was found to cut the ring-ditch and consequently post-date it. It probably originates from the medieval to post-medieval period and remains of uncertain archaeological significance.
Field 2 was in the centre of the development and contained 20.5 trenches. Only one of those contained definite archaeological remains, 9.5 contained potential remains and 11 contained no remains of archaeological interest. The definite archaeological feature comprised a ditch terminus or elongated pit containing a fragment of burnt bone. A number of geophysical anomalies were noted in Field 2, but, where dating evidence was retrieved, all were proven to be post-medieval.
Field 3 was the northernmost field and was located just south of the Boyne River. It contained 22 trenches, eight with definite archaeological remains, five with potential archaeological remains and nine with no remains of archaeological interest.
A prehistoric enclosure, of probable Middle Bronze Age date (c. 1500 bc) and c. 70m in diameter, was discovered in Field 3. An impressive array of Middle Bronze Age pottery was retrieved from a single slot excavated to its base. A relatively dense cluster of archaeological remains was also encountered, mostly to the exterior of the enclosure. The potential archaeological remains comprise undated ditches and pits. The geophysical report proved of limited value in Field 3 with most anomalies proving of relatively recent or non-archaeological origin.
Field 4 was located to the north-east of the development and contained 6.5 trenches. It contained one trench with definite archaeological remains, 3.5 with potential archaeological remains and two with no archaeological remains. The remains labelled definitely archaeological in Field 4 comprised a metalled surface and adjacent post-hole. Its date remains unknown, but the only artefact retrieved from its surface was a pottery crumb of potentially prehistoric date. The potential archaeological remains once again comprised undated ditches which do not match any previous maps but are of probable post-medieval date.
Ros Ó Maoldúin, ADS Ltd, 110 Amiens street, Dublin 1.


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