1991:082 - New St., Kilkenny, Kilkenny

NMI Burial Excavation Records

County: Kilkenny Site name: New St., Kilkenny

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

Author: Andrew Gittins, 26 William St., Waterford.

Site type: Urban, post-medieval

ITM: E 650440m, N 655444m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 52.647845, -7.254618

This site was a vacant lot shortly to be redeveloped as a warehouse premises. The property runs adjacent to the southern boundary of the car park of the Club House Hotel, abutting New Street to the south-west and the line of the city wall (not visible above ground here) to the north-east; the area to be built on terminates 11.6m south-west of that line.

Two trial trenches 0.9in wide, one latitudinally offset, were mechanically excavated to traverse this latter area southwest/north-east. Over most of their lengths nothing of archaeological interest was encountered, the natural boulder clay lay below overburden of c. l8th-l9th-century date generally 0.2m-0.35m thick and topped by an extensive cobbled pavement. However, in both cases, an intrusion cutting deeply into the boulder clay and filled with material very unlike the modern overburden was encountered near the street frontage.

Three small trenches were opened, Trenches A and B on the lines of the trial trenches and C where a foundation pad was to be located near the south-west corner of the site. The evidence from Trenches A and B suggested a continuous ditch running approximately parallel to the frontage; depths 1.1m (A), 0.8m (B); width greater than 1.3m (A), greater than 2m (B). Only the eastern edge lay within the site, the western rim possibly corresponding to the property boundary.

The cut(s) were filled to their lips with thick, fairly homogeneous deposits of grey or brown, clayey, quasi-organic material containing decayed animal bone and shell. The nature of the fill layers suggested a fairly rapid back-filling rather than a gradual silting though at the bottom of Trench B there was some slight evidence of silt formation.

The few finds included two sherds of medieval pottery; Ham Green and South Leinster wares, but also fragments of soft, red, fired clay, probably brick fragments, suggesting perhaps a 17th-century date.

The evidence from Trench C was somewhat ambiguous, the natural clay appeared to have been horizontally truncated here. The eastern edge of the cut, probably severely truncated, was located and, as in Trenches A and B, this extended north and southwards beyond the edges of the excavated area. The fill was similar to that of Trench A and produced identifiable fragments of red brick from the bottom. However, the edge of the cut lay more than a metre south-west of a line drawn through those of A and B so association with them is tentative.

Conclusions from this two-day, one person, partial excavation can only be provisional. The evidence suggests a deep and wide linear intrusion following most or all of the south-west boundary of the property. It is possible that it may have had a defensive function (it had few features suggestive of a channel for water), perhaps as an outwork running parallel to and 35m out from the city wall. If so, the period of the Eleven Years War may be suggested, the ditch being quickly back-filled after the cessation of hostilities. The finds would not be inconsistent with a date of around 1650.

Assuming the feature continues northwards and southwards it is possible that it may show up on other properties in the future and perhaps be more adequately interpreted.