Situated towards the W edge of a fairly level landscape and c. 30m from the crest of a steep SW-facing slope down (H c. 12m) to a SSE-NNW portion of the River Boyne. Two portions of souterrain passages (ME025-049001-; ME025-049002-) c. 15m part were found in preparing an EIS in 1995, but archaeological testing (97E0322) of the wider development area (c. 7 ha) to the W and S by E. Sullivan (1998) produced no further material (excavations.ie 1997:424). The two souterrains were excavated (98E0596) by C. Jones (1999) when two further portions of passage came to light c. 30m (ME025-049003-) and c. 75m (ME025-049004-) to the E and NE (excavations.ie1999:701) that were further investigated (07E0892) by J. Hession (excavations.ie 2007:1255). This souterrain (2) is c. 30m E of the first two discovered, and the final section that proved not to be a souterrain passage (4) is c. 45m NE of this one. No surface habitation material or enclosing feature can positively be associated with this souterrain.
The souterrain was largely intact, apart from the removal of most of the lintels and the truncation of one of the two beehive chambers. The passage walls were composed in the main of large slate stones set on edge with spalls and horizontally-laid stones levelling up the walls which corbelled in close to the top. In the chambers the slate stones were laid horizontally and the walls corbelled in from the base. The construction trench was cut vertically and could be clearly distinguished 0.1-0.3m behind the wall stones.
The entrance passage is a ramp (Wth c. 0.9m; L c. 1.5m) entered from the W that turned sharply N (L 3.8m; Wth 1m) and was probably lintelled originally from this point. This passage narrowed (Wth 0.8m) before turning W (L 5.9m; Wth 1m), with a drop-creep (dims 1m x 1m; D 0.8m) at its W end leading to a lower passage (L c. 3.5m; Wth 0.8-0.9m; H 1m) also extending W, although turning a little N. There are mortices in the N and S side-walls of the drop-creep at its top that could have provided a bedding for the hinges of a trap-door. The lower passage is the only one with its lintels intact and it joins a final passage (4) in a T-junction.
This final passage extend SW (L 2.5m; Wth 0.8-0.9m; max. H 1.4m) before entering a circular chamber (original diam. c. 2.4-2.8m), about half of which had been removed by quarrying. From the T-junction the final passage also extended NE to a circular chamber (diam. 2.4-2.8m; max. surviving H 1.35m) whose walls corbelled in from the base. There is an air-vent (dims 0.3m x 0.3m; L 1.2m) 1.3m above the chamber floor across from the narrowed entrance and the air-vent debouched into a ditch which appears to originate here and is probably an original feature. Large upright stones were utilised as jamb-stones on the entrances to both chambers. Some thin deposits can be attributed to the use of the souterrain from which only a bone pin and some animal bones were recovered. Some blocking layers closed the entrance ramp but the roof of the upper E-W passage had also been breached and not repaired before that section of passage was ultimately de-lintelled. The remains of the souterrain were backfilled on completion of the work but as the quarry area was used for dumping subsequently, its location was only generally confirmed in 2007 (Hession 2009, 27). (Jones 1999, 7-13)
See the attached site plan (_01) from Hession (2009, fig. 10) ) and souterrain plan (_02) from Jones (1999, fig. 18)
Complied by: Michael Moore
Date of upload: 30 March 2023
Jones, C. 1999 Archaeological Excavations of Souterrains and Associated Features at the IDA Business Park, Athlumney, Navan. Licence: 98E0596. Unpublished report, Margaret Gowen & Co.
Hession, J. 2009 Final Archaeological Report for the multiphase archaeological landscape preserved in situ at IDA Business and Technology Park, Dublin, Rd., Navan, Co. Meath. Licence: 07E0892. Unpublished report, Margaret Gowen & Co.
Sullivan, E. E. 1998 Archaeological Test Excavation at Athlumney House, Kilcarn, Navan, Co. Meath. Licence: 97E0322. Unpublished report, Margaret Gowen & Co.
Description Source: Department of Housing, Local Government & Heritage