1990:081 - King's Island, John's Ward B, (site 8), Limerick, Limerick

NMI Burial Excavation Records

County: Limerick Site name: King's Island, John's Ward B, (site 8), Limerick

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

Author: B. I. Hodkinson, do Planning Dept., Limerick Corporation, Limerick.

Site type: Urban medieval

ITM: E 557760m, N 657844m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 52.670115, -8.624532

Excavations on the site on the line of the proposed Northern Relief Road commenced in November 1989 and continued through to April 1990. The work was funded by Limerick Corporation and the general operatives were employed through the Social Employment Scheme. Complete excavation of the site was not possible with the time and resources allotted and a sampling strategy was therefore adopted, based on the findings from earlier trial trenching. Four trenches, Areas 1-4, were opened and dug by hand to the natural subsoil and these were later supplemented by two machine-dug trenches located to provide answers to specific questions.

A series of early ditches were excavated in Areas 2 and 3 which showed that many of the existing property boundaries had their origins in the early medieval period. Within the enclosed areas there were no traces of any medieval buildings and the whole site seems to have been peripheral to the main town. It is suggested that most of the site was used for gardens or orchards throughout the medieval period and on cartographic evidence it is possible to demonstrate that some areas of the site continued as garden well into the 19th century.

In addition to the ditches, the earliest phase also contained a number of pits, hearths and small post-holes for which there was little or no dating evidence. In the western trench, Area 1, a curvilinear ditch, which did not respect the later boundaries, may be of pre-Norman origin though there were no finds from it to confirm this. This ditch lay in the north-west corner of the trench and did not respect the line of the later properties.

The western trench also contained a complex of interconnecting pits, concentrated on the eastern half of the area. There was considerable variation in the diameter and depth of these pits but for the most part their function remains unclear. A proper soil sampling strategy could not be carried out due to continuous flooding during the exceedingly wet spring. The pottery evidence suggests that they were all of 13th-l4th-century date.

There were only two features which seem to span the late medieval to post-medieval period and these lay in Area 2. Here two walls ran at right angles to each other directly over earlier ditches. Neither wall was mortared and both are interpreted as boundary walls.

Two structures dating to the 17th century were uncovered, one in Area 1 and the other in Area 4. Both of the structures had low, clay-bonded stone walls and in both cases an associated burnt deposit contained baked clay with wattle imprint. On the evidence it would seem that the structures consisted of some form of timber framing with a wattle infill. The Area 1 structure seems to have had a clay floor while that in Area 4 was partially cobbled. Neither structure was substantial and there was no evidence to suggest that they had been dwellings. A coin of 1691 was found in a post-hole associated with the Area 4 structure.