1996:393 - Kilkenny Castle, Kilkenny West, Westmeath

NMI Burial Excavation Records

County: Westmeath Site name: Kilkenny Castle, Kilkenny West

Sites and Monuments Record No.: SMR 23:23 Licence number: 96E0094

Author: Kieran Campbell, 65t U/tans, Laytown, Drogheda, Co Louth.

Site type: Vicinity of castle

ITM: E 612148m, N 748924m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 53.490187, -7.816939

Test-trenches were excavated on a site for a house 60m to the east of Kilkenny Castle, whose ruins consist of the south-west corner of a tower house standing four storeys high. The investigations uncovered the foundations of a stone building, associated occupation soils and two ditches.

Under topsoil a layer of stone rubble 0.3m thick extended over the whole site. Below the rubble at the south end of the proposed house site the straight edge of a mortared stone foundation was exposed, running for a distance of 3.5m from what was evidently the south-east corner of a structure. The solid masonry was up to 2m wide but its full dimensions were not established owing to the limited nature of the excavation. To the north, 15m from the stone foundation, loosely mortared stone rubble lay on top of rough paving which had a covering of dark grey soil with bone and charcoal. Similar deposits, 0.l-0.18m thick, occurred elsewhere on the site, lying directly on natural till which was on average at a depth of 0.6m below ground level.

South of the stone structure the rubble layer sealed a ditch 3.2m wide and 0.7m deep. Some animal bones were recovered from the fill. A 5m-long test-trench on the site for the septic rank, 9m north of the house site, uncovered a second ditch, 3m wide and 1 m deep, also sealed by stone rubble and loose mortar. The basal silt contained iron slag and animal bones.

There was a lack of datable finds from the deposits examined, which otherwise produced a reasonable amount of occupation refuse, such as bone, iron and charcoal. An earthenware handle of seventeenth/eighteenth-century date and a fragment of red brick were found in the rubble layer. Demolition had already taken place by 1837 since no buildings are shown at this location on the first edition of the OS 6″ map. The two ditches and the small portion of intact foundation have approximately the same south-west to north-east alignment as the surviving remains of the nearby castle. It is likely that the archaeological material uncovered is datable to the period of use of the tower house, perhaps part of a building in the bawn or a gatehouse.

The National Monuments Service has requested further archaeological work on the site before the commencement of construction works.