1991:019 - Bunratty East, Clare

NMI Burial Excavation Records

County: Clare Site name: Bunratty East

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

Author: Celie O Rahilly, Planning Dept., Limerick Corporation, City Hall Limerick.

Site type: Medieval occupation

ITM: E 545262m, N 661343m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 52.700446, -8.809871

This site is located north-north-west of Bunratty Castle, between it and the mound at the southern end of a low hill (38ft contour), on ground adjacent to the Shannon Shamrock Hotel. Planning permission for an extension to the hotel for 20 bedrooms had been granted; one of the conditions being that an archaeologist be present to monitor the cutting of the foundation trenches. This was done on the 31st January by the writer. In the course of this work a band of deposits was identified crossing the site in an east-west direction and a team spent two days excavating the feature. The work was financed by the developer, Fitzpatrick Hotels.

Excavation was limited to the precise location of the four foundation trenches for the new development. There are aligned north-west x south-east. They were numbered 1-4 from the east. Trenches 2 and 3 were very close and as the time was limited, only the north-east one (Trench 2), was fully excavated by hand. Trench 1 was dug out by the machine at the monitoring stage and only part of Trench 4 could be dug by hand. In the remaining section, the fills were removed by machine under the writer’s supervision, after the excavation team had left and the entire section was drawn.

The excavation of the trenches showed evidence for a ditch, approx. 8.5m wide and in deep extending east-west across the site at an angle, which seems to have been filled and subsequently re-cut. From the finds it would appear to date to the l3th/l4th centuries. The layer in which a coin was found seems to be a sealing layer which suggests that this occurred some time in the first half of 14th century. This would comply with Bradley who, in his article ‘the medieval Borough of Bunratty’, puts the abandoning of the borough to some time after 1318. It is not possible, due to the limitation of the excavation and the total absence of any archaeological remains to either side of the ditch, to determine to what this feature may be related. It may have been part of the defence system cutting across the southern end of the low hill on which the mound is located to the north-west of the Castle, but it would be dangerous to assume any definitive association with either monument.