1995:129 - St Brendan's Cathedral, Ardfert, Kerry

NMI Burial Excavation Records

County: Kerry Site name: St Brendan's Cathedral, Ardfert

Sites and Monuments Record No.: SMR20:46 Licence number:

Author: Martin Reid, 32 Rathgar Ave., Dublin 6.

Site type: Medieval cathedral

ITM: E 478576m, N 621452m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 52.331231, -9.781581

Archaeological monitoring of underpinning works around the walls of the cathedral and a limited excavation in advance of wall-building took place over 12 weeks from 18 October to 8 December 1995. The resolution of these two areas of interest turned up a further 94 articulated skeletons.

Nine of the burials were identified during underpinning work and were therefore underneath the walls of the cathedral. The remaining 85 were within the medieval burial horizon along the north wall.

Out of the total number of these burials, 19 examples and three ‘possibles’ had one or more stones deliberately placed one on either side of the skull. This is a high percentage, especially as only 39 examples had some part of the skull intact. This burial type is known as a ‘Pillow-Stone Burial’ or burial with ‘Ear-Muffs’. Neither term is definitive.

Twenty examples have been sent for further analysis by a palaeopathologist (Barra Ó Donnabháin). They will become a part of the wider study of burials from the medieval burial horizon.