Located in fairly level pasture overlooking the N bank of the River Boyne between Trim and Newtown Trim. The porchfield of Trim which covers about 97 acres (c. 47 ha) was granted under that name by Richard Duke of York to St Mary’s Abbey (ME036-048021-) in 1449 (Kelly 2005, 23). Prior to that it could have been part of the demesne land of the castle (ME036-048004-), and Walter de Lacy in the earliest charter of Trim c. 1194 granted to the burgesses ’…that they may have pasture for their animals in my fallow lands…’ (ibid. 29). He also granted 3 acres to each burgess but if these plots were in the Porch field it would have resulted in a more chaotic system. In 1540 the porchfield was still amongst the abbey’s possessions and regarded as arable land (White 1943, 303). Kelly (2005, 30-1) has identified ridge and furrow of possible medieval date over much of the area that are 16.5 feet (5.5m) wide, this being one perch, a medieval measure.
Today the porchfield is divided into east and west sections by the Ring-road (R154). The cultivation ridges are difficult to see on the ground but can be seen on OSI aerial images (2017), Digital Globe (c. 2013) and Google Earth (18/04/2009; 29/06/2018). The ridges are all on a N-S axis and are up to 200m long, which is equivalent to a furlong (220 yards), the length a team of oxen could plough without pause. The furrows seem to be confined within the few field banks depicted on the OS 6-inch maps and change direction slightly at these boundaries, but the S-curves characteristic of medieval ploughing are not apparent. There is a lynchet (L c. 700m) visible as a steeper scarp (Wth 3.8m; H 1-1.2m) on the S and SE-facing slope down to the N bank of the River Boyne. This is caused by soil creep from ploughing that accumulates at the bottom of the slope. The lynchet becomes less prominent as it proceeds NE towards Newtown. The ridges (Wth 3-4m; H 0.1m) and furrows (Wth 1.5-2m) are most visible at the N edge of the E field when the grass is cut.
They could date to any time from the high Middle Ages up to the eighteenth century and perhaps later, and would be a natural development of soil-creep for as long as fixed mouldboards on ploughs were in use. The porch field has been in public ownership since 2002 and is the venue for many events including the Scurlockstown hay-making festival in June.
Archaeological testing (08E0510) by M. Seaver on an area of the furrows on the E side of the ring-road produced conclusive proof of a post-medieval date in clay pipe stems and ceramics of 18th and 19th century date (excavations.ie 2008:991).
Compiled by: Michael Moore
Date of upload: 9 July 2019
Amended: 29 January 2021
Description Source: National Monuments Service, Department of Arts, Heritage Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs.