Recent Excavations

County: Meath   Site name: Bellinter 2 number: 2006:1501        License number: A008/031, E3084
Author: Steve Linnane, Archaeological Consultancy Services Ltd, 21 Boyne Business Park, Greenhills, Drogheda.
Site type: Burnt mound

This site was located within Contract 2 (Dunshaughlin to Navan) of the proposed M3 Clonee to north of Kells motorway and was identified during advance testing by Steve Linnane in March–April 2004 (Excavations 2004, No. 1221, 04E0419).  Full resolution of the site took place in July 2006 and three shallow spreads of burnt material including stone and charcoal flecks, two pits, one of which may represent the remains of an associated trough filled with fire-shattered stone, and two drains were located.  The presence of some of these features probably demonstrates the previous existence of a now heavily truncated burnt mound.
County: Meath   Site name: TESTING AREA 15, DOWDSTOWN/ CASTLETOWN TARA/BALLINTER number: 2004:1221        License number: 04E0419
Author: Stephen J. Linnane, Archaeological Consultancy Services Ltd, Unit 21, Boyne Business Park, Greenhills, Drogheda, Co. Louth.
Site type: Prehistoric to post-medieval
ITM: E 689942m, N 761903m
Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 53.599257, -6.641164

An assessment was carried out in advance of the planned M3 Clonee-North of Kells PPP scheme, Co. Meath, on the Dunshaughlin-Navan section (Contract 2) between February and June 2004.  This section of the scheme is c. 15.5km long from the townland of Roestown, north-west of Dunshaughlin, to the townland of Ardsallagh, south-west of Navan town.   The EIS recommended testing any known or possible sites identified and Meath County Council further proposed to test the whole of the remainder of the route.  For the purposes of testing, this section was divided into 26 testing areas.  The assessment methodology generally consisted of mechanically excavating 2m-wide test-trenches along the centre-line and perpendicular to the centre-line to the edge of the land-take every 20m.  The work was carried out on behalf of Meath County Council, the National Roads Design Office and the National Roads Authority.

Testing Area 15 is located in the townlands of Dowdstown, Castletown Tara and Ballinter between Chainages 32000 and 33600.  Within this area 19,493m2 of the total 246,061m2 available was test-trenched, providing an assessment coverage of 7.9%.

The testing area was situated to the immediate south of the River Boyne crossing at Ballinter Bridge and extended to the south-east, where Dowdstown Bridge crossed the River Skane.  At this point Testing Area 15 extended to west and east where county road L2201-29 was to be slightly rerouted and provided with the proposed Dowdstown Overbridge.

During the testing a series of features were noted as being archaeologically significant.  These were given designated site names based on the townlands within which they were excavated.

A circular bowl hearth, Ballinter 1, was isolated and provided no material for dating.

Ballinter 2, a cluster of four burnt-stone spreads, appeared to be the remains of a ploughed-out fulacht fiadh, although no trough or other associated features were recognised within the test-trenches.

Dowdstown 1 comprised the foundations of a well-constructed building and a nearby roadway revealed during testing.  Both features appear on the first- and second-edition OS maps.  The walls of the building were constructed of coursed limestone, while the floor was of brick.  The roadway was well constructed of small rounded cobbles and had a substantial stone-built drain running along its length.

Dowdstown 2 had been detected by the preceding geophysical survey and testing confirmed the nature of this complex site as a ringfort with additional annexes.  The site seemed to have been occupied for a significant period and four phases of activity were noted.  The primary phase consisted of a circular enclosure with a diameter of c. 40m, which was later enlarged by the excavation of a ditch containing an irregular annexe to the north and east of the primary enclosure.  The greater part of the original ditch was enlarged at this time. Further phases of activity involved the construction of additional annexes, only now with rectilinear ditches.  No finds allowed the dating of these features, but it is suggested that the site could date from the Early Christian period and may have remained in use into the medieval period.