ME01996 - BLACKHALL BIG - Ringfort - rath

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Situated on a fairly level landscape. The OS Letters of the 1830s mention the ruin of a castle within the fort, but which could not be seen even then (Herity 2021, 114). A large structure consisting of what looks like two tower houses connected by a lower block, and another smaller structure nearby are depicted about this point on the Down Survey (1656-8) barony map of Ratoath and the parish map of Ballymaglassan. It was owned by Valerien Wellesley of Dangan (ME042-009----), and it is described in the Civil Survey (1654) as ‘a ruinate old castle & three cottages’ (Simington 1940, 89). The notation ‘Site of Castle’ is attached to the location of the enclosure on all the editions of the OS 6-inch maps. The enclosure was described in 1970 (SMR file) as a circular area defined by a wide, shallow fosse and a large outer bank of earth and stone. There was another external fosse and traces of a second external bank. A wide causeway (Wth 7m) crossed the inner fosse at NNE. An oblique aerial photograph (CUCAP: BDK008) from 1970 shows a rectangular enclosure attached at S as well as some field banks and drains to the N, forming part of the field system (ME050-007----). The visible profile of the monument had been removed by 1995 (OSAP). Archaeological testing (17E0358) by E. Halpin across the line of its perimeter at N revealed a modern introduced hardcore (T 0.3-0.6m) over the area ( 2017:632). Beneath this an inner band (Wth 6m) of grey-brown clayey silt was separated by a band (Wth c. 6m) of compacted stoney clay with some charcoal flecking from an outer band (Wth 6m) of grey-brown silt. The silt deposits from the two fosses were not sampled. The development was re-designed and further works were archaeologically monitored to ensure that the remains are preserved in situ under introduced soils, but the nature of the enclosure is unclear as its innermost defining feature appears to have been a fosse. (Halpin 2018, 2018a) Further archaeological testing (21E0302) by E. Halpin at the S edge of the enclosure and further S revealed a thick overburden (D 0.8-1.1m) over the area of the enclosure, elements of which were not encountered (excavations. ie 2021:510). Testing over more distant areas showed a deeper deposit of made ground (D up to 2.2m) which may be where spoil was placed. (Halpin 2021) See the attached view from the Down Survey barony map (N at bottom), courtesy of the National Library of Ireland The above description is derived from the published 'Archaeological Inventory of County Meath' (Dublin: Stationery Office, 1987). In certain instances the entries have been revised and updated in the light of recent research. Compiled by: Michael Moore Date of upload: 10 July 2007 Revised by: Michael Moore Date of revision: 26 October 2021

Description Source: Department of Housing, Local Government & Heritage

Monument Details

53.4437, -6.56007

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