1988:12 - 'Denvir's Hotel'. Demesne of Down, Down

NMI Burial Excavation Records

County: Down Site name: 'Denvir's Hotel'. Demesne of Down

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

Author: N.E. Brannon, Historic Monuments and Buildings Branch, DOE(NI)

Site type: Medieval/post-medieval urban

ITM: E 748519m, N 844602m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 54.328493, -5.716532

Brief excavations inside Denvir’s Hotel, English Street, Downpatrick, were carried out for the Historic Monuments and Buildings Branch, DOE(NI). Renovation of the core block of the hotel, built in 1642, revealed a well-preserved 17th-century fireplace, consisting of a large hearth and central flue flanked by two built-in ovens, the whole built in stone but with a high brick hood over an oak lintel. Lifting of the existing wooden planked floor gave access to underfloor deposits within the same room and brief sampling excavations revealed medieval deposits surviving to a depth of over one metre. A rubbish pit, a linear void paralleling the English Street ridge were examined, yielding numerous fragments of medieval pottery and animal bones.

No firm structural remains were noted, although plastered clay daub and iron nails were found. This being the first excavation in the English Street zone (long thought to be the nucleus of Medieval Downpatrick) the excavations have confirmed that substantial archaeological remains can survive in the area. The survival of listed 18th- and 19th-century buildings on the English Street frontage, however, make it unlikely that excavation opportunities will be frequent.

The surprising absence of Denvir’s Hotel from the inventory in An Archaeological Survey of County Down may now be rectified. Analysis of the structure and associated historical research generated by the excavation should result in the production of a paper on the building and its archaeology within the next few years.