NMI Burial Excavation Records

County: Kilkenny Site name: ABBEY STREET, GARDENS, KILKENNY

Sites and Monuments Record No.: SMR KK019-026168. Licence number: E1092


Site type: Graves of indeterminate date


ITM: E 650231m, N 656072m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 52.653518, -7.257597

In October 1976 bulldozing operations at Abbey Street, Gardens, Kilkenny City, uncovered a human skeleton. The frontal portion of the skull was damaged by the bulldozer before the bones were noticed by the driver. The NMI was notified of the find by the Garda Síochána at Kilkenny and a rescue excavation was undertaken by Raghnall Ó Floinn and Mary Cahill on 1 November 1976. The human remains from the site were examined by Professor C.A. Erskine and the remains of two individuals were identified.

Location (Fig. 6.20)
The site was in the townland of Gardens in Kilkenny City.33 It lay at the western end of Abbey

Fig. 6.20—Locationmap, Abbey Street,Gardens, Co. Kilkenny.

Fig. 6.21—Plan ofgrave, Abbey Street,Gardens, Co. Kilkenny.

Street near the junction of Newbuilding Lane, approximately 20m south of the Black Abbey and 50m west of the medieval town wall. The site sloped steeply to the north towards the Bregach River.

Description of site
The grave occurred at a depth of 1.7m. The overlying deposit consisted of black garden soil that included charcoal, ash, animal bone and sherds of post-medieval pottery,34 and below this was a layer of yellow-brown clay (Fig. 6.21). The grave consisted of an unprotected pit and no structural stones were found. The pit was aligned east/west. The extent of the pit could not be established owing to the disturbed nature of the site.
The burial consisted of an extended inhumation (1976:608) and no accompanying artefacts were found. The articulated skeleton, an adult male, lay extended with the head to the west and the feet to the east. The head was tilted slightly upwards and faced south. The right arm was tightly flexed against the right scapula and the left arm lay across the breast. No trace of any formal grave was found and no associated finds were recovered. Apart from the extended burial, portions of a skull and long bone—stratified at depths of 0.38m and 0.72m respectively in the yellow-brown clay layer—were also recovered. A few fragments of an adult female skeleton were found among these bones.

There were no associated finds or other evidence that would enable these burials to be accurately dated.


The collection comprises complete bones and large fragments of all parts of the skeleton of one adult male of strong build. Bones well preserved; left humerus, right clavicle and left tibia complete, other long bones in large pieces. Most small bones of hand and foot are intact and almost complete; only carpal bones missing. Femora, sacrum and innominate bones are in large fragments. Most vertebrae present and fairly complete; ribs also nearly all present in large fragments. Skull: fragmentary, mandible in two pieces; the left side shows some pathological irregularity medial to mental foramen; teeth not much worn, first molar of the upper left maxilla broken ante-mortem; well-marked muscle impressions on the occipital bone.

Human bones collected on site
The collection comprises a few fragments of adult female skeleton: fragment mid-shaft of femur and fragment of lower quarter of left humerus. Small fragments of innominate bone and tibial head; also right temporal bone.
Also present: three animal bones and one tooth.

33. Parish of St Canice, barony of Municipal Borough of Kilkenny. SMR KK019-026168. IGR 250292 156029.
34. Portions of two vessels were recovered; 1976: 606–7.