1991:043 - 6-8 Usher, Dublin

NMI Burial Excavation Records

County: Dublin Site name: 6-8 Usher

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

Author: DL. Swan, 746 Howth Road Dublin 5.

Site type: Urban medieval waterfront

ITM: E 712746m, N 733725m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 53.341732, -6.306898

From February to June 1991 archaeological excavations were carried out by the writer, together with Mr Damien McGarry, on the site which was located on the extreme north-west corner of the medieval town. The site is located on the corner of Usher's Quay and St Augustine St., and excavations were carried out on behalf of Messrs. Ballymore Homes, Ballymore Eustace, Co. Kildare, in advance of clearance and proposed development of the site.

Site investigations had already confirmed the presence of the medieval town wall, and established its alignment, extending from south to north across the length of the site, parallel to St Augustine St Excavations revealed a substantial length of this wall, still standing to a height of almost 2m in places, as well as a further section running parallel to the existing quays. The west range extending from south towards the river front, terminated in a well-made ending, where it had been indicated that it should have turned to follow the line of the waterfront towards the east, leaving a gap of over 2m at the north-east corner.

A possible explanation for this discontinuity was suggested by the discovery of a line of timber revetment, stretching towards the south from the internal face of the waterfront wall, constructed of braced oak beams and planks, similar to the 13th-century revetments uncovered at Wood Quay.

The timber revetment running north-south, at right angles to the waterfront, appeared to form an internal harbour or dock, with the remains of a jetty or landing stage still in position. A deliberately constructed break or opening in the waterfront wall with associated timbers, seemed to suggest the possibility of a sluice arrangement, which might have allowed for the control of water levels within the harbour area.

A very large amount of pottery, together with scraps of leather off-cuts, fragments of timber, some showing signs of working, and significant quantities of other organic remains, were also recovered. The pottery comprised over 2,000 sherds, and included wares of local manufacture as well as significant quantities of English and French wares, with Saintonge material predominating.

The distribution of this material over the whole area of the site in successive waterlaid deposits, interspersed with layers of water-deposited sand, seems to indicate that the harbour or dock had a fairly short working life before falling into disuse, and becoming silted up by the action of the river which deposited quantities of sand over the entire area and its structure.