Archaeological excavation (E00428) by Gretta Byrne in 1987 and 1988 on the site of a new Garda Station identified a portion of the fosse of an enclosure or rath (int. diam. c. 22m) c. 10m NW of St Columba’s House (ME017-044011-), and a section of a thirteenth or fourteenth century channel (ME017-044029-) further E. The rath is located at what was the highest point within the ecclesiastical enclosure (ME017-044025-) and the ground sloped away from it steeply to the E and S and less so in other directions. An arc of the V-sectioned fosse (Wth c. 2.2m; D 1.5m) that was partly cut through bedrock survived SW-NW (excavated L c. 20m) with a widened terminal (Wth 2.8m; D 1.7m) at NW, although the other side of the entrance (Wth 2.5m plus) was not recovered.
The fosse had fairly consistent layers throughout with a mix of silt, subsoil and gravel at the bottom (T 0.1-0.5m). This was overlain by compact silty gravel or sand with some lumps of redeposited boulder clay or a silty clay with charcoal and bones. Above this was a more sterile deposit of brown clay with some silty gravel. This was overlain throughout by a layer of stones and bones in a grey silty clay with slippage of subsoil on the inner edge. This produced most of the artefacts recovered and represents occupation debris in the main. This was partly overlain by a gravelly yellow / brown clay (max. T 0.8m) deposited from the inner side, which may represent a levelling of the bank across the ditch, matched by a less substantial deposit from the outside. Above this and along the entire ditch was a centrally placed layer of brown clay flecked with charcoal and containing some bones. Over sixty stake-holes forming two lines converging inwards were in the entrance area at NW. In the same area was a flat stone platform (dims 1.5m NW-SE; 0.4m NE-SW) which may be the remnant of a path, beneath which in a small pit (diam. 0.3m; D 0.1m) were 31 sherds of a flat-based pottery vessel that might be of coarse Beaker type, and one sherd of another vessel.
The basal silt of the ditch produced a small blue glass bead but in the layer above a bronze brooch with a kidney-shaped ring that had an amber stud in a roundel on the front was found. This could date to the seventh or eighth century (Stevenson 1987), pre-dating the foundation of the Columban monastery (ME017-044012-). Layers above this produced fragments of bronze plates and pins. Iron objects included a knife and what might be part of an escutcheon, an awl, a ring and one furnace bottom. There were stone hones and a spindle whorl and bone pins. There were two pits 1m (dims 1.3m x 1.1m; D 0.5m) and 4m (dims 2.4m x 1-1.4m; D c. 0.25m) outside the ditch which were probably contemporary with it but produced few artefacts apart from a cylindrical bead of pale green glass with applied yellow glass from the second. (Byrne 1988)
Compiled by: Michael Moore
Date of upload: 16 April 2019
Description Source: National Monuments Service, Department of Arts, Heritage Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs.