All the information in this post is from the defunct website www.m3motorway.ie which was a collaboration between Meath County Council, the National Roads Authority and N3 Meath Consultant ARUP/HALCROW BARRY/MCOS.  A cached copy of most of the website is available to view at www.archive.org.

MEATH COUNTY COUNCIL
NATIONAL ROADS DESIGN OFFICE
NAVAN ENTERPRISE CENTRE
TRIM ROAD
NAVAN
COUNTY MEATH
TEL. 046-9075033

NATIONAL ROADS AUTHORITY
ST MARTIN’S HOUSE
WATERLOO ROAD
DUBLIN 2
TEL. 01-6602511

N3 MEATH CONSULTANT
ARUP/HALCROW BARRY/MCOS
C/O JB BARRY & PARTNERS
MONASTERY ROAD
CLONDALKIN
DUBLIN 22

 

m3-section1

 

Site Name/ Townland Description Basic Interpretation Provisional dating
Loughsallagh 1 Linear stone feature Road Early Modern
Dunboyne 1 2 possible cremations Possible burial site Prehistoric
Bracetown 1 Burnt spread Burnt mound Bronze Age
Dunboyne 3 Pits and postholes Settlement Possible Neolithic
Bennetstown 1 Burnt spread Burnt mound Bronze Age
Dunboyne 2 Ditches with medieval pottery Possible field system or settlement activity Medieval
Pace 2 Building foundations Building Early Modern
Pace 3 2 postholes Occupation activity Possible Prehistoric
Pace 1 Burnt spread Burnt mound Bronze Age
Piercetown 1 pit Occupation activity Possible Prehistoric
Quarryland 1 pit Post-medieval dispersed industrial activity Post-medieval
Raynestown 1 Circular enclosure with Bronze Age pottery Burial ring ditch Bronze Age
Raynestown 2 Burnt spread and pit Burnt mound Bronze Age
Rath Hill 1 Circular stone structure and adjacent industrial debris Buildings Post Medieval
Johnstown 1 Circular enclosure & burnt spread 50m away Settlement and possible burnt mound Undated and prehistoric
Johnstown 2 Possible bowl furnace and spreads of burning Industrial activity Possible Prehistoric
Johnstown 3 L-shaped narrow ditch with burnt fill Possible Industrial activity Prehistoric
Johnstown 4 Spread of burnt material Identified in testing as possible modern feature Possible modern
Knocks 1 Burnt mound Burnt mound Bronze Age
Bennetstown 3 Pits and ditches Occupation activity Possible Prehistoric
Bennetstown 2 Burnt spread Burnt mound Bronze Age
Dunboyne 4 Ditches & pit Field system Medieval/Possible post medieval
Roestown 4 Pits and ditches Dispersed activity Possible Prehistoric
Cooksland 3 Possible cremation pits Possible burial site and/or settlement activity Prehistoric
Merrywell 1 Ditches and furrows Field system Medieval
Knockmark 1 Pits, spreads & arrowhead Occupation activity Prehistoric
Drumree 1 Burnt spread Burnt mound Bronze Age
Leshemstown 1 Burnt mound Burnt mound Bronze Age
Leshemstown 2 Pits & spreads Occupation activity Possible Prehistoric
Castlefarm 1 Ditches, pits & spreads with pottery & metal Settlement Medieval

 

Excavation

Although many definitions of archaeological excavation refer to the total ‘destruction’ of an archaeological site, a more accurate description of the process is ‘deconstruction’. In other words, a site is deconstructed or taken apart in a controlled and scientific manner in order to understand its genesis and morphology.

Archaeological excavation involves the systematic uncovering of archaeological remains through the removal of the deposits of soil and the other material covering them and accompanying them. During the ‘deconstruction’ of a site, the information contained in the archaeological deposits is preserved by record. Each deposit is meticulously excavated and recorded: each change in soil colour and/or texture is noted, samples are taken to be analysed for any organic remains, and finds recorded as to exactly where they were found.Archaeological excavation remains the only way to check the reliability of surface data, confirm the accuracy of geophysical survey results, and actually see what remains of these sites. The aim of archaeological excavation is to preserve through record the archaeological deposits that are being deconstructed through excavation. Ideally this means that should you so want to you could recreate the site.

 

 

METHODOLOGY

As part of the archaeological resolution phase of the M3, all sites will be subject to two phases of topsoil assessment in advance of excavation. Topsoil assessment involves the systematic metal detecting and systematic field walking of the exposed topsoil in order to assess the artefact bearing potential of the agriculturally disturbed topsoil.

Following the completion of the topsoil assessment at each site, the results will be reported to the National Monuments Section of the DoEHLG and approval sought for the next phase of archaeological resolution, excavation. At some sites, which are determined to have a low archaeological potential for artifact retrieval from the topsoil, the topsoil is removed mechanically. A mechanical excavator using a flat bladed (i.e. toothless bucket) is used to remove the topsoil carefully in layers under the constant supervision of a qualified archaeologist in order to uncover the archaeological site. At sites where a high potential for artifact retrieval is identified a suitable methodology for topsoil removal is proposed. This usually involves hand excavation of the topsoil.

A large cutting will be opened around all archaeological features identified during testing. In the event of additional features being exposed the cuttings will be enlarged as necessary. All previously recorded archaeological features and newly exposed features will be cleaned and hand excavated. All features will be recorded (by plan, photographs, levels, feature sheets etc.) using multi-context planning.

 

PRELIMINARY SUMMARY EXCAVATION RESULTS

SECTION 1

Site Name/ Townland Testing Provisional Site Type Testing Provisional Description Testing Provisional dating Excavation Preliminary Summary Results
Loughsallagh 1 Road Linear stone feature Early Modern Complete – Post-medieval road/lane with associated ditch, with another road surface and ditch at a lower level.
Dunboyne 1 Possible burial site 2 possible cremation deposits Prehistoric Complete – Two possible cremation pits, no additional features or finds.
Bracetown 1 Burnt mound Burnt spread Bronze Age Complete – Truncated burnt stone spread, no trough or finds.
Dunboyne 3 Settlement Pits and postholes Possible Neolithic Complete – Isolated pits which produced substantial amounts of burnt bone, and also neolithic and beaker pottery and flint.
Bennetstown 1 Burnt mound Burnt spread  Bronze Age Complete – Burnt mound
Dunboyne 2 Possible field system or settlement activity Ditches with medieval pottery Medieval Complete – Medieval field system, truncating a possible bronze age circular house. Finds include prehistoric and medieval pottery and a stone axe.
Pace 2 Building Building foundations Early Modern Complete – Early modern building foundations.
Pace 3 Occupation activity 2 postholes Possible Prehistoric Complete – Remaining features modern agricultural.
Pace 1 Burnt mound Burnt spread Bronze Age Complete – Pits, possibly prehistoric, adjacent watercourse.
Piercetown Occupation activity 1 pit Possible Prehistoric Complete – No additional features.
Quarryland Post-medieval dispersed industrial activity 1 pit Post-medieval Complete – No additional features.
Raynestown 1 Burial ring ditch Circular enclosure with Bronze Age pottery Bronze Age
Raynestown 2 Burnt mound Burnt spread and pit Bronze Age
Rath Hill 1 Buildings Circular stone structure and adjacent industrial debris Post Medieval
Johnstown 1 Settlement and possible burnt mound Circular enclosure & burnt spread 50m away Undated and prehistoric Ongoing – Circular houses and enclosures – undated – possibly prehistoric but more likely early medieval?
Johnstown 2 Industrial activity Possible bowl furnace and spreads of burning Possible Prehistoric Complete – Series of pits, a bowl furnace and a keyhole-shaped kiln.
Johnstown 3 Possible Industrial activity L-shaped narrow ditch with burnt fill Prehistoric Complete – Remains of furnace / kiln and pit filled with prehistoric pottery.
Johnstown 4 Identified in testing but no recommendation of further material Spread of burnt material Possible modern Temporarily halted – Ring ditch 24m in diameter with internal and external cremation deposits.
Knocks 1 Burnt mound Burnt mound Bronze Age Complete – Burnt mound type activity within a circular enclosure.
Bennetstown 3 Occupation activity Pits and ditches Possible Prehistoric Complete – Postholes and pits of unknown date.
Bennetstown 2 Burnt mound Burnt spread Bronze Age Complete – Burnt mound
Dunboyne 4 Field system Ditches & pit Medieval/Possible post medieval Complete – Series of post-medieval and modern linear features and prehistoric pits.
Roestown 4 Dispersed activity Pits and ditches Possible Prehistoric Ongoing
Cooksland 3 Possible burial site and/or settlement activity Possible cremation pits Prehistoric Ongoing
Merrywell 1 Field system Ditches and furrows Medieval Complete – Medieval ridge and furrow or field system, and well.
Knockmark 1 Occupation activity Pits, spreads & arrowhead Prehistoric Complete – Treeboles possibly representing prehistoric tree clearance.
Drumree 1 Burnt mound Burnt spread  Bronze Age Complete – Possible truncated burnt mound, also a series of pits, postholes, two figure of 8-shaped kilns and two bowl furnaces.
Leshemstown 1 Burnt mound Burnt mound Bronze Age Complete – Burnt mound
Leshemstown 2 Occupation activity Pits & spreads Possible Prehistoric Complete – Pit, remaining features modern agricultural.
Castlefarm 1 Settlement Ditches, pits & spreads with pottery & metal Medieval Ongoing – Large circular enclosure, mainly early medieval but also medieval phase.

SECTION 2

Site Name/Townland Testing Provisional Site Type Testing Provisional Description Testing Provisional Dating Excavation Preliminary Summary Results
Cooksland 4 Stone spread Stone building debris Early Modern
Cooksland 2 Burnt mound Burnt spread Bronze Age A spread of burnt stone overlying a trough. This was filled with burnt stone and contained a badly decayed timber base and four stakeholes which would have held the timber sides of the trough.
Cooksland 1 Industrial Possible charcoal manufacturing kiln Possible Medieval The single pit identified during testing phase was relocated during the resolution phase. No further archaeological features were identified.
Roestown 2 Settlement complex Large ditched enclosure complex split by existing N3 Early Medieval A series of successive early medieval enclosures, including a souterrain and field systems, beginning in the 7th century and continuing into the 11th century with limited occupation into the 13th century.
Roestown 3 Vernacular building Stone building foundations Early Modern A number of features identified as the foundations of an early modern stone wall.
Roestown 1 Burnt mound Pits with burnt stone fills Bronze Age A spread of burnt mound material overlying two troughs and a large circular pit. A number of stakeholes to the north of these features did not form any coherent plan. Finds included a flint arrowhead and scraper.
Garretstown 2 Possible Settlement/Industrial Industrial activity, pits and ditches adjacent moated site. Medieval Two main phases of activity have been identified. In the absence of any diagnostic finds the dating of the site remains provisional until radiocarbon and OSL dates have been returned. The first phase of the site is represented by two large ringditches (one circular, one sub-circular) and perhaps a number of smaller circular ditch features. This phase is provisionally dated to the Bronze Age. The second phase of the site is represented by a series of large linear ditches and a large sub-rectangular enclosure with a massive ditch extending and lying mainly outside the landtake. This phase is provisionally dated to the early medieval period. Approximately 10 corn-drying kilns were excavated across the site and it is assumed that they also belong to the early medieval period.
Garretstown 1 Possible burial site & possible settlement Possible cremation pits and hearth, pit and posthole Possible Prehistoric Features found to be modern and / or natural in origin.
Berrillstown 2 Burnt mound Pit and burnt spread Bronze Age A small number of sub-circular pits, stakeholes and small curvilinear features. The pits were filled with burnt stones and charcoal-rich soils and may represent the remains of a small burnt mound.
Berrillstown 1 Burial site Probable cremation pits adjacent a ring ditch Bronze Age A large scatter of pits and a corn-drying kiln concentrated around the edge of a ringditch, which lies immediately outside the landtake. One artefact was recovered – a lignite bracelet fragment. These preliminary findings seem to indicate an early medieval date.
Clowanstown 3 Burnt mound Pit and burnt spread Bronze Age Two shallow oval hearths were recorded, one of which was located in an earlier tree bowl. No further features were found to be related.
Clowanstown 2 Burnt mound Pits and small burnt spreads Bronze Age Four burnt spreads, nine pits, a sub-circular hearth and a shallow field ditch. Finds include a hollow-based chert arrowhead and core, two scrapers and flint debris, suggesting flint / chert working on site.
Clowanstown 1 Burnt mound Burnt mounds Bronze Age A number of phases of activity were identified. The earliest dates to the late Mesolithic or very early Neolithic period, in the form of timber platforms, pits, at least two woven fish baskets and Bann flakes, located on the edge of what would have been a small lake. This lake later developed as a raised bog, on which three mounds were constructed during the early Neolithic period. Deliberately constructed layers within the mounds contained cremation deposits, Early Neolithic carinated bowls, worked wooden vessels, polished stone axes and stone pendants. A fourth mound was constructed at a later date and is characteristic of a burnt mound or fulacht fiadh.
Collierstown 1 Burial site Three stone lined cist graves adjacent an upstanding mound Possible Prehistoric and Early Medieval
Collierstown 2 Burial site Single pit with intact pot Prehistoric
Baronstown 1 Possible ritual enclosure or settlement complex Large ditched enclosure complex Possible Prehistoric and Early Medieval
Skreen 1 Occupation activity 4 pits, 1 hearth, linear features Possible Prehistoric The heavily truncated remains of a curvilinear slot trench and two pits. A fragment of struck flint was recovered from the curvilinear feature.
Skreen 2 Occupation activity 3 pits, 1 ditch, 1 shallow linear feature Possible Prehistoric An oval-shaped structure (6m by 4m), comprising five postholes with a southeast entrance. A flint scraper and a quantity of flint debitage were found in the postholes, indicating a prehistoric date. Other features include a small deposit of cremated bone.
Skreen 3 Occupation activity 4 pits, irregular shaped feature, linear feature Possible Prehistoric A prehistoric circular structure (15m diameter) formed by a slot trench, with internal postholes, situated at the base of a small hill. Two semi-circular ditches were dug into the hill to the north, east and south of the structure, probable drains positioned to channel water away. Numerous pits and postholes were located outside the structure. Finds included a flint arrowhead, a prehistoric pottery sherd and a bronze ring.
Lismullin 1 Occupation activity 11 pits, animal bone Possible Prehistoric
Blundelstown 1 Industrial activity Kiln Post-Medieval
Blundelstown 2 & 3 Burnt mound 2 burnt spreads Bronze Age The ploughed-out remains of a burnt stone spread, with a sub-rectangular trough and further outlying pits. A number of flint and lithic artefacts including a chert scraper, a flint blade / knife and numerous pieces of debitage were recovered.
Castletown Tara 2 Possible burial site Possible cremation pits/ditches Prehistoric
Castletown Tara 1 Industrial & possible burial 2 ditches, bowl furnace, charcoal spread & possible cremated bone Possible Prehistoric
Philpotstown 1 Post Office and Smithy Building foundations Early Modern The foundations of a 19th century post office, smithy and dwelling. The post office building was rectangular in plan and divided into three main areas comprising a dwelling area positioned between the post office at the northern end and the smithy at the southern end. A large circular stone template used for forging wheels, made from a broken mill-stone, was also recorded at the site. Finds included 19th century coins, earthenware pottery, a metal ruler, horse bits and leather coins.
Philpotstown 3 Dillon’s Bridge National School Building debris in topsoil and adjacent field boundary Early Modern
Philpotstown 2 Burnt mound Burnt spread Bronze Age
Castletown Tara 3 Occupation activity Pits and ditches Possible Prehistoric
Dowdstown 1 Vernacular building Building foundations and laneway Early Modern A metalled roadway, flanked on either side by ditches, and the limestone wall foundations and brick-built floor of a cottage. The cottage was rectangular in plan, divided into three rooms with a fireplace in the central living room. Additional features included ditches indicating a walled and ditched yard to the rear of the cottage. The finds assemblage was predominantly domestic with a 19th century date range. The cottage and roadway are shown on the 1st, 2nd and 3rd edition OS maps.
Ballinter 2 Burnt mound Burnt spreads Bronze Age A number of thin spreads of burnt stone and two pits, which may represent the badly truncated remains of a burnt mound.
Ballinter 1 Industrial Bowl hearth Possible Prehistoric The single pit, possibly a bowl hearth, identified during testing was relocated and excavated. No other features were identified.
Dowdstown 2 Settlement complex Large ditched enclosure complex Early Medieval A series of early medieval enclosures including a ringfort subsequently enlarged to a D-shaped enclosure and associated field system.
Ardsallagh 2 Possible building & possible burial site Possible round house and nearby possible cremation pits Possible Bronze Age Two circular structures currently interpreted as Bronze Age roundhouses, adjacent a large ringditch. Each structure enclosed a cremation pit, with a further six pits located outside the structures.
Ardsallagh 4 Possible burial site Possible cremation pit Prehistoric A series of postholes and pits not forming any coherent structure and a single sherd of beaker pottery.
Ardsallagh 1 Burial site Ring-ditch, cremations and inhumations Possible Bronze Age, Iron Age, Early Medieval A prehistoric and early medieval burial site consisting of a ringditch, which enclosed 23 burials. The burials were laid on their backs and were oriented east-west, indicating a Christian burial rite. The remains of a pottery vessel containing cremated bone was located a short distance northwest of the ringditch.
Ardsallagh 3 Settlement/Industrial Hearth with millstone Post-medieval A number of hearths including one with millstone of post-medieval date.
Ardsallagh 5 Possible burial site Possible cremation pit and ditch Early Medieval The remains of a circular house structure, two linear ditches, pits, a drying kiln and two metalled stone surfaces. Animal bone, some cremated bone and a blue glass bead were recovered from the site. Radiocarbon dating of charcoal from one of the ditches to AD 994-1155 suggests that these features are likely to be associated with the neighbouring early ecclesiastical Cannistown Church.
Trevet 1 Building Rectangular stone foundations Medieval A large, cobbled road surface with an adjacent drainage ditch leading up to a small crudely built structure with a cobbled yard to the rear. Finds included over 3000 sherds of 13th-14th century pottery, a cruciform strap end, two feet from cooking pots and a knife handle. A small amount of slag was also recovered.

 

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