1998:293 - ST JOHN'S LANE, ATHY, Kildare

NMI Burial Excavation Records

County: Kildare Site name: ST JOHN'S LANE, ATHY

Sites and Monuments Record No.: N/A Licence number: 98E0411

Author: Martin E. Byrne, 39 Kerdiff Park, Monread, Naas, Co. Kildare.

Site type: Urban medieval

ITM: E 668010m, N 694002m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 52.992428, -6.986980

An archaeological evaluation was undertaken at Pettit’s Supermarket, St John’s Lane, Athy, on 16 September 1998. The work was carried out in compliance with a condition included in the grant of planning in respect of extensions to the western side and southern front of the existing supermarket. The foundations on the western side of the building had been excavated before archaeological involvement and could not be inspected because they had been filled with concrete. Consequently, construction works on the site had been halted until the required archaeological assessment had been carried out, the report submitted to the relevant authorities and written authorisation to proceed given by the NMHPS, Dúchas.

The site lies on the western bank of the River Barrow and on the northern side of Duke Street, in the vicinity of the postulated location of the town wall and close to the site of the Priory of St Thomas and Hospital of St John, a Fratres Cruciferi establishment dating to the early 13th century. Furthermore, there is a possibility of medieval industrial activity on the immediate area in the form of milling. A mill-race, shown in the 1st edition OS 6-inch map, ran from St John’s Lane to the river, and other streams also existed in this area, all having been filled over the last hundred years or so. Accordingly, the development site lies within the designated zone of archaeological potential for Athy.

Three trenches were excavated by machine. In general a number of layers of rubble and gravel were uncovered that had been dumped during efforts to reclaim the area from the flood-plain of the river. The combined depth of these layers ranged from c. 1.7m to 2.1m below the present ground surface. Following their removal, the surface of a ‘peat-like’, silty clay was revealed at 53.128-53.638m OD. The surface of this material falls to the east and south. Similar material was revealed during the excavation of archaeological test-trenches associated with the nearby St John’s House (Excavations 1995, 43), the investigation of which led to the recovery of animal bone, shell and twigs. The material uncovered during the present evaluation was not investigated, and it is speculated that it is of archaeological interest, given the results from the nearby St John’s development.

Four fragmented clay pipe stems and one clay pipe bowl were recovered from the rubble layer, the nature and form of which indicate a probable 19th-century date.

The foundations, both previously inserted and proposed, have a maximum depth of 0.4m below the present ground surface. Therefore, they will have no physical impact on the peat and their relatively shallow depths should have little or no impact on the existing level of ground water. Consequently, it was recommended that no further archaeological involvement was required at the site in respect of the current development.