Role: Archaeological Contractor
N77 Ballyragget Village to Ballynaslee Road Improvement Scheme
Client: Kilkenny County Council
The N77 Ballyragget Village to Ballynaslee Road Improvement Scheme is located north of Ballyragget village in the townlands of Ballyconra and Ballynaslee in County Kilkenny.
AMS were commissioned to undertake Stage (i), (ii), (iii) and (iv) site works. These commenced in December 2022 and stages (i)-(iii) were completed by Spring 2023. Tasks included:
- Standard Test Excavations
- Site Specific Test Excavations
- Built Heritage Surveys
- Townland Boundary Surveys
- Aerial Surveys using drones
Stage (iv) works are ongoing.
The proposed development will consist of the realignment of a 2.44km section of the N77 to remove a bend immediately to the north of the Glanbia plant at Ballyragget.
Test excavations help to identify undocumented sites that have no surface expression. It is one of the methods used in an evolving investigation process, the aim of which is to ensure strategies are put in place to lessen the archaeological impact of the development. Test trenches were excavated within the footprint of the project and placed to target areas of interest highlighted in earlier research. The trenches totalled a length of 3,665.5m or 13.5% of the area available for testing.
Test excavations identified the nature and extent of archaeological remains present. In early 2023, larger areas around the possible sites identified in the test trenches were to identify the most appropriate mitigation strategies – in this case the full excavation of six sites designated ‘Ballyconra1–6’.
Six sites were identified and excavated through a combination of historical research, remote sensing and archaeological test trenching.
Site Director John Channing walks viewers through the six sites identified and excavated along the N77 Ballyragget Village to Ballynaslee Road Improvement Scheme. He discusses the techniques used, including historical research, remote sensing and archaeological test trenching.
On Thursday 6 April, an open day was held for invited guests and project stakeholders. Guests from Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII), the National Monument Service (NMS), Kilkenny County Council (KCC), local landowners and local development/historical groups were in attendance. Approximately 35–40 people attended the open day.
Site Director John Channing and Senior Archaeologist Colum Hardy gave a site tour to the attendees while other AMS staff explained the historical documents relating to the site and the artefacts recovered during the excavations.
Collaboration with UCD
During the excavations, researchers from UCD’s Fab Trads project took samples of stone and mortar from the cottages to test the energy efficiency of traditional building materials. The aim of their project is to identify the hygrothermal performance of these materials, thereby providing key data for further modelling and guidance in relation to the retrofitting of traditional buildings.
Collaboration with Local Residents
An outreach program garnering oral history and local folklore, and in particular details on vernacular buildings and their inhabitants, ran throughout the excavations. This greatly helped to flesh out the excavation results while also keeping the community updated on the team’s work.
A poster has been created to print and also to share digitally. You can download a copy here.