14.1 : Moynagh Lough, Co. Meath E337
Site location: NGR 28199/28605 SMR ME005-099---
14.1.1: Location map of Moynagh Lough, Co. Meath [OSI]
14.1.1: Aerial view of Moynagh Lough
This crannog lies on the southern end of an old lake bed that appears to have been originally an expanse of the River Dee (Fig. 14.1.1). The lake had been drained in the nineteenth century but, in recent years, was liable to reform briefly after winter flooding. The site was revealed in 1977 during land reclamation. Prof. George Eogan directed a short excavation there in 1980 and a series of excavations under the direction of John Bradley followed during the summers of 1981-1999.
The crannóg comprised an oval mound and was revealed as a multi-period site. The earliest activity was the Late Mesolithic levels, which consisted of activity on three platforms. Fifty six post-holes and two pits were identified on Platform 1, two post-holes were revealed on Platform 2 while a chert blade and two flakes were found on Platform 3. A radiocarbon determination of 3450 Cal. BC was returned from Platform 2. A layer of charcoal flecked mud represented occupation activity, as did an area of brushwood and a layer of deposited stones. A large number of chert and flint flakes, polished stone axeheads, spearheads, hammerstones, two polishing stones, a bone point and an elongated wooden object were recovered. This level was later naturally covered by open-water mud.
The next phase of occupation was the Early Bronze Age, represented by a layer of charcoal flecked earth, charcoal spreads and deposited pebbles. The remains of two structures were revealed. House 1 with 13 posts and a few pieces of burnt flint and grain and House 2 with 20 posts and sherds of decorated cordoned pottery, rounded scrapers, pointed bone objects and saddle quern fragments. A series of posts running in an east-west direction were 4m from the structures and may have been an enclosing palisade. Finds included a barbed-and-tanged arrowhead and a deer antler toggle and a radiocarbon date of 1580 Cal. BC was returned for the occupation layer.
Late Bronze Age activity consisted of a circular structure with a hearth. Two outdoor stone-lined hearths were also revealed with five associated wooden stakes. Finds included two quernstones, a bone spindle-whorl, sherds of pottery and a bronze ‘hair-ring’. This level was later covered with a layer of stones, mostly heat-cracked, mixed with charcoal and debris including animal bone, eight bronze pins, two tweezers, two spearheads, 32 amber beads and part of an amber ring, a glass bead, lignite and shale bracelets, beads and rings and several bone and antler artefacts and sherds of pottery.
Occupation again occurred in the Early Christian period with the construction of the crannóg. The crannóg had an internal diameter of c.40m with piles inserted into the ground outside it for at least 10m on the west side. The crannóg was made up of layers of stones, peat, gravelly earth and brushwood. At least four major occupation phases were detected, each lying on redeposited peat. The earliest (Level V) was a thick layer of charcoal flecked soil and ash and a patch of brushwood with no structures. The next phase (Level W) consisted of a pit, a hearth, a possible furnace and a spread of compact gravel. Finds included a small loop-headed plain-ringed bronze pin, some bone comb fragments and a jet bracelet, all probably suggesting a date in the late 7th to early 8th century. The next phase (Level X) consisted of a round structure, two spreads of metalworking activity, some isolated hearths, an entrance pathway and a series of cess pits. The entrance pathway was covered by a layer of ashes, which links it with both metal-working areas 1 and 2. The remains of a double-walled circular structure/house (diameter c.7.5m) were recorded between these two areas. To the east of this feature, traces of a second structure (diameter c.5.2m) were revealed but only the tips of the posts survived. Further excavation revealed a sub-rectangular, flat-bottomed cess pit. Finds included seven bone pins, two bronze pins, one bone comb, a barrel padlock key, a bone motif piece, a lump of yellow enamel and two glass fragments, all suggesting a date c.720-748 AD. The following phase (Level Y) was represented by a large round house, an open-air hearth, a bowl furnace, traces of a second smaller house with central hearth and Palisade 2. The basal remains of a fourth phase (Level Z) consisted of Palisade 1, parts of a foundation layer of redeposited peat and a solitary charcoal spread. The dendrochronological and artefactual evidence suggests these phases occurred during the 7th and 8th centuries and at a time subsequent to AD 625.
Excavation of a section of the northern perimeter revealed two palisades, one of planks (Palisade 1) the other of posts (Palisade 2). Stratigraphically the post palisade was later than the plank palisade. The plank palisade had been inserted into a trench and the planks had been roughly finished with an adze and clear cut marks were visible. An estimated felling date of AD 748 was returned providing a terminus post quem date for this level. Outside Palisade 2 oak uprights had been driven into the ground, possibly to strengthen the crannóg verge. Sloping away from the crannóg was layers of habitation debris, particularly rich in animal bones. Excavation of the layers below the metalworking activity was also continued.
14.1.2: Moynagh Lough. Drinking-horn terminal
Parts of a 32 oak plank trackway, a rectangular hearth, a 29 post semi-oval structure and an alignment of nine posts representing a palisade or an internal fence were also excavated. Parts of nine quernstones and six unfinished examples were found elsewhere on the site, suggesting that quernstones were manufactured on site. No structural evidence from the medieval period or later was uncovered, despite four sherds of thirteenth/fourteenth century pottery recovered from bulldozer spoil.
Bradley, J. 1983 ‘Excavations at Moynagh Lough, Co. Meath 1980-81’, Ríocht na Midhe 7(2), 12-32.
Bradley, 1983 ‘Moynagh Lough, Brittas’, Medieval Archaeology 27, 219.
Bradley, J. 1984 ‘Excavations at Moynagh Lough, Co. Meath 1982-83’, Ríocht na Midhe 7(3), 86-93.
Bradley, 1984 ‘Moynagh Lough, Brittas’, Medieval Archaeology 28, 256-7.
Bradley, 1985 ‘Moynagh Lough, Brittas’, Medieval Archaeology 29, 214-5.
Bradley, 1986 ‘Moynagh Lough, Brittas’, Medieval Archaeology 30, 186.
Bradley, J. 1986 ‘Excavations at Moynagh Lough, Co. Meath 1984’, Ríocht na Midhe 7(4), 79-93.
Bradley, J. 1988. 39. ‘Moynagh Lough Crannóg’, Brittas. In I. Bennett (ed.), Excavations 1987. Wordwell Ltd., Bray, 22.
Bradley, J. 1989 ‘Moynagh Lough Crannóg, Brittas’, In I. Bennett (ed.), Excavations 1988. Wordwell Ltd., Bray, 30-31.
Bradley, 1988 ‘Moynagh Lough, Brittas’, Medieval Archaeology 32, 298.
Bradley, 1989 ‘Moynagh Lough, Brittas’, Medieval Archaeology 33, 224-5.
Bradley, 1990 ‘Moynagh Lough, Brittas’, Medieval Archaeology 34, 236.
Bradley, J. 1990 ‘Moynagh Lough Crannóg, Brittas’, In I. Bennett (ed.), Excavations 1989. Wordwell Ltd., Wicklow, 41-42.
Bradley, J. 1991 ‘Excavations at Moynagh Lough, Co. Meath 1985-87’, Ríocht na Midhe 8(3), 21-36.
Bradley, J. 1991 ‘Excavations at Moynagh Lough, Co. Meath’, Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland 121, 5-26.
Bradley, J. 1993 ‘Moynagh Lough: an Insular Workshop of the Second Quarter of the 8th Century’, In R. N. Spearman and J. Higgitt (eds), The Age of Migrating Ideas: early medieval art in Northern Britain and Ireland. Sutton, Gloucester, 74-81.
Bradley, J. 1995 ‘Moynagh Lough, Brittas’, In I. Bennett (ed.), Excavations 1994. Wordwell Ltd., Bray, 72-73.
Bradley, J. 1995 ‘Excavations at Moynagh Lough, Co. Meath’, Ríocht na Midhe 9(1), 158-69.
Bradley, J. 1996 ‘Moynagh Lough, Brittas’, In I. Bennett (ed.), Excavations 1995. Wordwell Ltd., Bray.
Bradley, J. 1997 ‘Excavations at Moynagh Lough, Co. Meath 1995-96’, Ríocht na Midhe 9(3), 50-61.
Bradley, 1997 ‘Moynagh Lough, Brittas’, Medieval Archaeology 41, 308.
Bradley, J. 1998 ‘Moynagh Lough, Brittas’, In I. Bennett (ed.), Excavations 1997. Wordwell Ltd., Bray, 137-139.
Bradley, J. 1999 ‘Excavations at Moynagh Lough, Co. Meath 1997-98’, Ríocht na Midhe 10, 1-17.
Bradley, J. 1999 ‘Moynagh Lough, Brittas’, In I. Bennett (ed.), Excavations 1998. Wordwell Ltd., Bray, 161-162.