ARCHAEOLOGICAL testing is to be carried out ahead of the creation of a new community recreation park in Clarecastle in an area deemed to have “high archaeological potential”.
Planning permission has been granted by Clare County Council to Clarecastle Community Amenity Ltd for the development of the park which includes an all-weather multi-purpose playing pitch and walking track.
Due to the proximity of the site to recorded monuments mitigation measures have been put forward to ensure the preservation of features of archaeological interest. The community group’s original plans were adjusted including altering the location of the pitch to avoid any direct impact on the recorded monuments in the area.
There are two recorded monuments within the bounds of the site itself, levelled earthworks which are likely to be early medieval ring-forts. An intact ring-fort is also located immediately adjacent to the site.
Permission for the development was granted subject to a number of conditions of planning including the engagement of a qualified archaeologist to carry out pre-development test trenching on the site. A 10 metre exclusion zone is also to be established around the monuments with no activity related to the construction allowed within.
The new facility will be created in a large field immediately west of Clarecastle GAA Club. An archaeological assessment report carried out by TVAS Ireland Ltd on behalf of Clarecastle Community Amenity Ltd found that the potential for archaeological features on the site is high. It was determined that the initial position of the proposed pitch would have a “severe negative impact” on the north eastern part of the earthwork.
Revised drawings for the all-weather pitch and walking trails away from archaeological boundaries and removing walking trails outside the site boundary were submitted to Clare County Council’s planning department.
Assessing the changes to the proposal, the planning authority determined that recommendations in the Archaeological Impact Assessment would mitigate any potential damage to the recorded monuments. Also that once constructed the visual impact of the development on the recorded monuments would be low.
Planning permission was granted subject to nine conditions including that the proposed pitch and walking track be laid out in accordance with the revised site layout submitted to the planning office in December.
A minimum distance of 10 metres is to be maintained between the nearest edge of the proposed pitch and one of the recorded monuments. The engagement of a suitable qualified archaeologist to carry out pre-development test trenching across the entire area of the proposed pitch and associated services is required and no sub-surface work is to be undertaken in the absence of the archaeologist without his / her express consent.
Where archaeological material is shown to be present the archaeologist is to stop works pending advice from the planning authority and the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage.
Following completion of test trenching, the archaeologist will submit a written report to the planning authority for assessment. Following this the developer is to agree in writing with the planning authority details regarding any further archaeological requirements prior to the commencement of construction works.
All features / archaeological surfaces found within the test trenches are to be hand cleaned and clearly visible for photographic purposes.
The archaeologist is to submit a report describing the results of the test excavation to the planning authority and National Monuments section of the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage within six weeks.
The planning authority further state where archaeological material is shown to be present, further mitigation measures may be required to allow for preservation in situ, excavation and or monitoring deemed appropriate.