1993:137 - 'Rothe House', Parliament St., Kilkenny, Kilkenny

NMI Burial Excavation Records

County: Kilkenny Site name: 'Rothe House', Parliament St., Kilkenny

Sites and Monuments Record No.: N/A Licence number: 92E0123

Author: Neil O'Flanagan, A.D.S. Ltd., Powerhouse, Pigeon House Harbour, Dublin 4.

Site type: 17th-century house

ITM: E 651039m, N 655744m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 52.650485, -7.245708

A limited excavation was held in the yards adjacent to the ‘Third House’ of the Rothe House complex on behalf of the Kilkenny Archaeological Society for a period of six weeks in March-April. The house was the last in the series built by the Rothe Family and probably dates to the early 17th century. The complex is divided by courtyards and the excavations described below were carried out in the middle, and rear, yards. The excavation in the middle yard had the purpose of further investigating a sunken stone structure uncovered in 1992 (Excavations 1992, 40-41), while the excavation in the rear yard preceded a general lowering of the level of the yard prior to the reconstruction of the third house.

The small trench cut in the central yard stretched from the east wall of the third house to a hooded well 3m away. The back of the well was aligned with the south wall of the yard. The structure was composed of large limestone slabs and the inscription “1604 Pray for the souls of John Rothe merchant and his wife Rose Archer” was carved on its gable. The excavation revealed that the sunken feature was a continuation of the sunken sides of the well itself, indicating that a much larger structure preceded the construction of the 1604 well head.

The foundations of the latter structure had effectively bisected the earlier structure, at least in the portion uncovered in the yard (the sunken feature continued under the property boundary of Rothe House, limiting a full investigation). The fill of the sunken structure was excavated to a depth of 1.95m below the surface of the yard only, as it had been fully established that the structure and the well originally formed part of the same feature. The top of the structure reached 0.5m-0.6m below the surface. The excavated fill consisted of a series of shallow layers of silty clay containing native medieval wares dated tentatively to the 13th-14th century. The fill was then covered by two beds of medium sized limestones and they were then overlain by modern mixed deposits. It would appear, therefore, the sunken feature was in fact part of a larger well constructed during the Anglo-Norman period.

An additional trench was cut in the rear yard, behind the third house. A layer of relatively modern cobbles was removed to reveal deposits of ash and a series of pits and gullies cut into the redeposited boulder clay which underlay the entire area. The pits and gullies are probably owing to the iron working carried out in the yard in the last century, but the redeposited boulder clay seems to have preceded the construction of the third house. The floor area of the house was made up of the boulder clay, and a construction cut in the yard suggests that the foundations of the house were cut into the redeposited clay. The deposit may well have formed the surface of a rear yard prior to the construction of the third house in the early part of the 17th century.

The removal of other deposits in the rear yard was supervised and several walls of uncertain date were exposed. Much of these were in the vicinity of a highly disturbed portion of the house and it would appear that most of the walls reflect modern activity.