1989:021 - 'St Doulagh's', Balgriffin, Dublin

NMI Burial Excavation Records

County: Dublin Site name: 'St Doulagh's', Balgriffin

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

Author: D.L. Swan, Carnlough, 746 Howth Road, Dublin 5.

Site type: Early Christian site with medieval and modern church, baptistry and holy well

ITM: E 721231m, N 741500m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 53.409688, -6.176563

Archaeological excavations were undertaken at St Doulagh's Church last September as part of a continuing conservation and restoration project. This work was concentrated on three areas:1. The area surrounding and in the immediate vicinity of the baptistery and the vault containing the holy well; 2. the line of a long trench, opened mechanically and without archaeological supervision, which intersected the site more or less diagonally; 3. the area within the present church yard.1. Showed signs of considerable disturbance in all cuttings, and yielded only one significant feature. This consisted of a carefully constructed bath or trough, measuring 1.8m x 0.75m with a depth of 0.6m. It was fed through a channel with the overflow of water from the spring inside the baptistry, and this flow in turn could be controlled to feed through a sluice into the underground vault which also contained the holy well.From this area a number of coins and tokens were recovered, including some from the spring of the baptistry, of which the oldest was a posthumously minted silver penny of Henry VIII. Small quantities of pottery fragments of all dates from the l3th/l4th centuries onwards were recovered from many cuttings here, as well as small quantities of slag.2. The line of trenching which had been opened mechanically revealed archaeologically significant deposits in a number of areas, including stratified occupation debris, indications of both inner and outer enclosing ditches, and an area of burial, This latter contained at least six extended human burials in very shallow grave pits, directly beneath the plough-soil, These were adult burials. No artefacts were recovered, nor was any pottery noted in this area. Some slag was, however, identified as associated with the occupation area.3. Trenching within the modern churchyard showed evidence that part, at least, of the accumulated deposits of burials here had been almost completely removed, thus lowering the ground level considerably. Only the bases of the grave trenches survived, and in most cases any human remains recovered were disarticulated and extremely disturbed. It is likely that this activity was associated with the extensive reconstruction works which took place during the latter part of the last century.Supervision of operations still continues, but since the site is to be taken in charge by the Parks Department of Dublin Co. Council, further major excavations of the site are not at present envisaged.