1997:412 - STRADE ABBEY, STRADE, Mayo

County: Mayo Site name: STRADE ABBEY, STRADE

Sites and Monuments Record No.: N/A Licence number: 97E0381

Author: Donald Murphy, Archaeological Consultancy Services Ltd, 5 Trinity Street, Drogheda, Co. Louth.

Site type: Medieval friary

ITM: E 525767m, N 797614m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 53.922556, -9.130145

Archaeological monitoring and testing were carried out at the Penal Church, Strade Abbey, Strade, Co. Mayo, during September, October and November 1997. It is proposed to reconstruct the Penal Church at Strade Abbey for the Michael Davitt Museum Committee. The Penal Church is attached to the south-west corner of the medieval church, probably along the line of the west range of the abbey.

In September 1997 three test-trenches were excavated in the area to the south of the Penal Church. A substantial wall extending in an east–west direction was uncovered in two of the trenches. It measured 1.1m in width and survived to a depth of at least 1m. This wall was of medieval date and may represent the southern extent of the cloistral buildings.

In October 1997 five trenches were excavated at various locations around the perimeter of the Penal Church in order to date the foundations, if possible. In addition to the five test-trenches some plaster was removed from the interior of the north wall of the nave. The trenches indicated the likelihood that the north gable and west wall of the north transept are of late medieval date, together with a second wall running parallel with and west of the transept. A doorway seems to have existed in both the north gable and the west wall of the transept, but these are probably not contemporary with the blocked-up doorway in the north gable, likely to be of earlier date. A wall of probable 13th-century date was exposed just north of the gable and 1.5m west of the medieval church and is likely to be associated with the abbey itself.

No conclusive dating evidence was retrieved for the walls of the Penal Church, but the south transept and south nave wall are likely to date from the construction of the church in the 18th century.

In November 1997 further archaeological testing was carried out inside the church in order to assess the significance of archaeological deposits below the concrete floor. Four test-trenches were excavated and revealed that medieval deposits existed below the floor of the Penal Church. A pit, rough cobbling and a hearth were among the features found. Towards the western end of the nave the deposits seem to represent material dumped in the medieval period to raise ground levels. The four trenches were quite small and a much larger area needs to be examined in order to fully evaluate the significance of deposits. Therefore more extensive archaeological excavation is due to be carried out in 1998.