2003:1005 - GARRYNAMANN LOWER, Kells, Kilkenny

NMI Burial Excavation Records

County: Kilkenny Site name: GARRYNAMANN LOWER, Kells

Sites and Monuments Record No.: N/A Licence number: 03E1111

Author: Cóilín Ó Drisceoil

Site type: No archaeology found

Period/Dating: N/A

ITM: E 649239m, N 643606m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 52.541568, -7.274108

An assessment of a childcare and resource centre was requested by Kilkenny County Council. The site lay within the zone of archaeological potential identified by the Urban Archaeology Survey of County Kilkenny and adjacent to Kells motte and bailey, SMR 27:29(02, 03). The proposed development site lay immediately adjacent to and south of the confines of the national monument.

There are no visible traces of an enclosing moat to the monument, a fact that Empey (1984) attributes to either silting or the fact that the motte and bailey were built originally on an island. If the former is true, it was thought possible prior to testing that the fosse ran outside (on the south side of) the bawn wall and thus into the development area. The testing proved this not to be the case.

The first-edition OS map (1841) marks the motte as a wooded area, the southern part of the bawn wall and a pathway around the western side of the bailey. Within the development area a series of buildings are shown fronting onto the road and a long rectangular building runs parallel with these about a third of the way down the site. According to locals, this structure was used as a slaughterhouse until c. 30 years ago. The remainder of the site is farmland. The bawn wall is marked ‘site of gaol’.

At the time of testing, the development area had been cleared of buildings and was in use as a carpark. Prior to this, a small cattle mart occupied the site. The mart developers pulled down the buildings shown on the early maps of the area in the 1950s and employed the rubble generated to raise the ground level of the development area. Testing uncovered over 1.5m of this infill above the old ground level.

Testing took place on 25–26 July 2003. Twelve trenches were excavated by a JCB with a 1m toothless flat bucket. The stratigraphic sequence was broadly similar throughout the site: the glacially deposited substratum and alluvium were covered by a thin marshy sod, which in turn underlay a series of dumped deposits of demolition rubble c. 1.5m deep. In the west of the site, these were deposited in recent years. Those in the east were the product of two discrete episodes: the first was probably a consequence of the spreading of the demolition rubble from the original buildings that fronted onto the street. The second was the result of recent levelling and deposition. In Trenches 5 and 6 the stratigraphy differed, in that the glacial gravels were just under the surface, indicating that this was a part of the gravel island on which the nearby motte and bailey was constructed. The testing also showed that the ground sloped sharply to the east and west of this ridge, forming a marshy area that extended as far as the bailey wall in the west. That most of the proposed development area was marsh would explain the lack of archaeological materials in the test-trenches.

Empey, C.A. 1984 A case study of the primary phase of Anglo-Norman Settlement: the Lordship of Kells. Old Kilkenny Review, 32–40.

Tulla, Threecastles, Co. Kilkenny