1973:0017 - DUBLIN CITY, Dublin

NMI Burial Excavation Records

County: Dublin Site name: DUBLIN CITY

Sites and Monuments Record No.: N/A Licence number:

Author: A. B. 0 Riordain, Irish Antiquities Division, National Museum of Ireland.

Site type: Viking Medieval Urban Site

ITM: E 715826m, N 734698m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 53.349805, -6.260308

The excavation of a site at Christ Church Place, south of the Cathedral, which was commenced in Autumn 1972 continued throughout 1973.

Structural features of the late 13th-early 14th centuries included an extensive stone-built culvert over 30m long and remains of a mortared stone building, the major portion of which had been demolished in the early 14th century. Finds associated with this phase of activity included sherds of polychrome pottery of south west French type and an English reckoning counter of c.1300 A.D.

The well defined plan of a house constructed in the post and wattle technique and of late 11th or early 12th century date was also discovered. The house was 9.50m long and 4.45m wide and its long axis was orientated E-W. The doorway, 1 m wide, had a stout oak jamb on either side and occupied an off-central position in the southern side wall. The floor area in the immediate vicinity of the hearth, which was centrally placed, was composed of mud and trodden soil; the remainder of the floor was covered with a layer of brushwood. The original mud plastering was revealed in certain stretches of the house walls and analysis of this material has shown it to be virtually sterile. Objects discovered in the house included a well-preserved iron sword of late Viking type which has an inscription SINIM INI IS on one face of the blade, a small wooden weaving tablet, an Hiberno-Norse coin of late 11th century date as well as many sherds of a glazed and decorated tripod pitcher of Anglo-Saxon type.

Close to the house an abundance of sawn antler tines, burrs and a large quantity of waste comb blanks were found. The assemblage included an example of an unfinished comb consisting of nine sawn comb blanks riveted in position between the back plates or fillets. Only two teeth had been cut in this specimen and, due to a sawing error, the whole had been discarded, thus providing an interesting demonstration of a stage in the working methods of the comb maker.

A handled wooden object resembling a spade or baker’s shovel was found also. It bears a runic inscription of seven lightly incised letters. Although parts of the final characters are worn away, sufficient remain to show that the runes read KIRLAKAR.

Considerable numbers of baked clay crucibles and of slag and vitreous matter, indicative of extensive metalworking, were found in strata of the 11th and 12th centuries in particular. Other evidence of metalworking was provided by the finding of over twenty bone trial pieces and a single specimen of a slate-stone trial piece. Many of the panels of zoomorphic ornament which occur on the trial pieces are similar to those on surviving examples of the metalwork of the period, including the Soiscel Molaise, the crosier of the Abbots of Clonmacnoise and an Irish crosier known as the Kells Crosier now preserved in the British Museum. Twenty seven individual finds of coins, which have been made at various levels, include an important group of 12th century Irish bracteates, some of which are of novel type. Fourteen Hiberno-Norse coins have also been found as well as two Anglo-Saxon examples, one of which is of Aethelred and the other of Cnut. Two thick discs of lead, each of which has a centrall placed boring and which bear impressions of coin dies of mid-11th century type are considered to have been used as mint weights. A number of lead weights and fragments of bronze weighing scales have also been found. Stave-type structural features were found in an early-to mid-11th century level.