1990:054 - 'Athenry Castle', Athenry, Galway

NMI Burial Excavation Records

County: Galway Site name: 'Athenry Castle', Athenry

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

Author: Cliona Papazian, c/o Office of Public Works, Dublin

Site type: Medieval castle

ITM: E 551161m, N 728828m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 53.307483, -8.732798

Athenry Castle is located at the north-eastern end of Athenry town; excavation of this National Monument was undertaken on behalf of the Office of Public Works in advance of conservation works. Construction of the castle is dated by documentary evidence to between 1235-1241. The rectangular keep stands isolated within the (much restored) curtain walls which form part of the town’s mural defences. Previous excavation in 1972 by C. Foley did not elucidate if the townward side of the castle was surrounded by a ditch. Eight areas within the ward were opened for investigation. No substantial deposits of medieval date were uncovered and excavation did not resolve the problematic question of the exact location and nature of the medieval entrance way. Excavation of a cesspit (trench 4) adjacent to the garderobe produced artefactual and environmental remains which can be associated with the occupation of the castle. Finds include a bone comb and weaving pin and fragments of Saintonge green glazed and polychrome pottery.

With the exception of a (residual) fragment of l5th-l6th-century German stoneware, no evidence was uncovered of later medieval occupation. Excavation in the southern and south-western corner of the site revealed considerable post-medieval and later activity. A number of structural remains, some visible prior to excavation, were uncovered. All of these structures appear to have had an industrial rather than domestic function and are probably roughly contemporaneous.