NMI Burial Excavation Records

County: Cork Site name: CORK CITY, SOUTH MAIN STREET

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

Author: D. C. Twohig, Department of Archaeology, University College, Cork.

Site type: Medieval & Later Urban

ITM: E 566957m, N 571662m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 51.896135, -8.480105

In February 1975 excavations were transferred to the site of the College of the Holy Trinity —Christchurch (South Main Street). The area of the site is approximately 1 acre and the thickness of stratified deposits varies from 5m. to 7m. Three primary entities required investigation on this site:

(1) The College of Holy Trinity — Christchurch (Built in 1482),
(2) The medieval and post-medieval street frontage,
(3) The medieval town wall and one of its wall towers (Hopewell Castle).

The greater part of the late medieval and post-medieval horizons were excavated in 1975 together with one small area (7m. by 9m.) of medieval deposits.

The fragmentary remains of the College have been identified and these show that the building measured about 20m. by 8m. A series of post-medieval colleges and alms houses have also been identified but these have not yet been fully excavated. The foundations of stone built houses dating from the late 14th century to the 19th century have been excavated. These houses are particularly well evidenced for the 17th century. An unfinished well-shaft adjacent to one of the 17th century houses contained a large quantity of slates, ridge tiles, pottery, clay pipes and wine bottles.

Results from that part of the street frontage (South Main Street) which was excavated in 1975 were disappointing as a result of the disturbance caused by the construction of a basement strong-room on the 19th century. Work concentrated therefore in that area immediately behind those buildings which would have fronted onto the South Main Street. The post-medieval horizons in this area were of particular interest in that they contained a number of stone-built refuse pits in which was found a good range of 17th and 18th century pottery. The underlying medieval horizons provided evidence for the type of development which took place in that area immediately behind the medieval street frontage. This evidence was visible in the form of small post and wattle houses, brushwood floors, wooden and wickerwork pathways, timber drains, hearth sites etc. The finds associated with these features had a range of date from about 1200 to 1400. These finds included large quantities of worked leather (shoe fragments, knife and sword sheaths etc.), worked wood (plates, bowls, spoons, gaming pieces etc.), metal objects (bronze pins, iron nails, fish hooks, knives, arrowheads, spearheads), crucible fragments, slag and furnace bottoms, many bone combs, antler gaming pieces, stone net-sinkers, whetstones, quernstones and one slate trial piece. Two pewter objects were found in the 13th century horizon. One of these was a pewter brooch which is similar in its essential details to one from Christ Church Place, Dublin (E122:1). The second pewter object is a token which again is paralleled at Winetavern Street, Dublin (tentative identification by Prof. M. Dolley). The bulk of the medieval pottery consists of imported wares (c. 80%), of which about 40% came from Ham Green and 40% from Saintonge. The remaining 20% includes pottery from Rouen, Scarborough, Paffrath etc., with possibly some small percentage of locally made pottery.