1974:0014 - DUBLIN CITY : Christchurch Place, Dublin

NMI Burial Excavation Records

County: Dublin Site name: DUBLIN CITY : Christchurch Place

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

Author: Mr. B. O’Riordain, Irish Antiquities Division, National Museum of Ireland.

Site type: 11th/12th century urban

ITM: E 715137m, N 733928m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 53.343041, -6.270929

Excavations of the Christ Church Place site continued throughout 1974. One of the principal discoveries made was that of a house of stave-type construction of which the complete ground plan was recovered. It was found in a habitation level attributable to the mid-11th century period. Rectangular in plan it was 8m. long and 5m. wide and its long axis was orientated E-W. Although only fragments of the walls survived sufficient remained to indicate that they had been constructed of a combination of staves (tree trunks split lengthwise with the curved surfaces facing outwards) and vertical timber planks. The outer edges of the staves had been provided with grooves to accommodate the planks which had been slotted between each pair of staves. The bases of the staves and intervening planks rested on wooden sill-beams or sole-plates at ground level. Structural evidence was found which showed that the side-walls had been reconstructed and the finding of three superimposed hearths in the central area of the house suggests that occupation had continued for a fairly lengthy period of time. Features of particular interest within the house included internal divisions indicating that one large room containing the centrally placed stone-edged hearth had been provided with a bench along part of each of the side walls. At the western end of the house two small chambers at opposite sides opened off the central passage. Another small chamber or annexe abutting the eastern end-wall appears to have included a privy as an underfloor wooden culvert formed (in the main) of discarded ship strakes originally discharged into a cess pit located within the annexe. The entrance to the house was in the form of a plank-floored vestibule with its opening in the southern side wall. An unusually large number of artifacts — upwards of 600 — was found on and in the compressed layers of brushwood and other organic material of the benched areas and in the trodden soil of the central area of the floor of the main chamber and of the smaller chambers at the western end of the house. The principal finds include a number of decorated leather scabbards; the largest example which is 37cm long bears an inscription reading + EDRIC ME FECIT. A silver coin of the Sitric series (in the date range 1035-1055) was found in one of the benched areas, and dendrochronological analysis by Dr. M.G. Baillie and a c!4 determination of the sill beam combine to indicate mid Clith date. Other finds from this house included fish-hooks, knife blades, nails, staples, pointed implements, arrowheads and small tools of iron, barrel padlocks and keys, fragments of hair nets and textiles — including small pieces of braid —weaving tablets and bone spindle whorls. Evidence of metalworking (in the form of crucible fragments, vitreous matter and stone pins and ringed pins, a small bell-like object and a bronze spur. Comb making in the form of antler waste and unfinished tooth plates was in evidence and single-sided decorated combs and one example of a double-sided comb which appears to be of whale bone were also found. Potsherds included Andenne ware, sherds of northern French wares and fragments of vessels made of steatite.

Other finds from the excavation site included numerous examples of carved bone trial pieces, a wooden handle of an iron knife which bears finely incised Urnes-style decoration, a small (5.9cm long) wooden carving representing a human head with decorative features executed in the Ringerike style and part of a small smoothing plane which bears runic inscriptions on each of the long sides. Pottery from 11th century levels included late Saxon wheel-stamped ware of Stamford type and sherds of Andenne ware.