2003:1126 - ADARE CASTLE, ADARE, Limerick

NMI Burial Excavation Records

County: Limerick Site name: ADARE CASTLE, ADARE

Sites and Monuments Record No.: SMR 21:32 Licence number: 01E1153 EXT.

Author: Jacinta Kiely, Eachtra Archaeological Projects, 3 Canal Place, Tralee, Co. Kerry.

Site type: Castle

ITM: E 546359m, N 646150m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 52.564015, -8.791179

Dúchas are undertaking extensive conservation works on the complex of Adare Castle. Excavations are taking place in advance of repair/restoration works in a number of areas. These works have been ongoing since a short season in 2001, directed by Laurence Dunne (Excavations 2001, No. 742; Excavations 2002, No. 1072).

Adare castle (Áth Daire – the ford of the oaks) is located on the north-eastern limits of the town of Adare on the bank of the River Maigue. The castle consists of a keep set within an inner ward that is, in turn, protected by an outer ward. The main entrance, through the western side of the outer curtain wall, is protected by a gatehouse incorporating a rear portcullis. Immediately beside the gatehouse and forming the south-west corner of the complex is an early rectangular two-storey banquet hall (the smaller of two) that probably dates to the first decade of the 13th century. A second rectangular and larger hall is located to the east of the south-west hall. A large fosse, now partially filled, surrounded the inner ward and extended in a general ‘P’ shape to protect the outer gatehouse and to link directly into the Maigue River. The main focus of the medieval castle complex is the rectangular keep; it is largely destroyed to ground level, with only the northern gable standing to full height. The keep is set within an inner ward that is, in turn, enclosed by a large fosse or moat. The entrance to the inner ward is further protected by a gatehouse and drawbridge structure.

In 2001, the drawbridge pit was excavated in advance of reconstruction of the drawbridge area. In 2002 the kitchen (Area I) located to the north-west of the banquet hall and the area between the two halls in the outer ward (Area II) were excavated.

In 2003, further works were undertaken in the area between the two halls (Area II) and a section of the moat (Area III) was excavated.

Area II was located between the banquet hall to the east, the later 15th-century hall to the west, by the curtain wall to the south and by the moat to the north. The area was partially excavated over a period of two seasons. A levee had been constructed in the area in the 1970s to try to alleviate flood damage from the River Maigue. The levee material and the remains of rubble collapse were removed from the area. The oven, associated cooking pit, well, stone-capped drain and a portion of the associated walls were partially excavated in the first season. The aim of the excavation was to expose these features, in order to facilitate conservation work. Consideration of the finished ground level was necessary for future visitor access to the area.

A circular pit, the basal courses of a possible cistern and the basal courses of a number of wall lines were excavated in 2003. The cistern and pit were located adjacent to one another. The area surrounding them was cobbled. Four wall lines aligned east–west were recorded. Pottery, glass and metal artefacts were recorded.

A section measuring 5m east–west was excavated in the moat to the east of the curtain wall. A sluice gate had been inserted in the moat under the curtain wall in the 19th century. The sluice gate and part of the retaining wall built against the base of the curtain wall were removed. The banks and base of the moat were recorded. Rising springs were recorded in the base of the moat. Pottery, wooden and metal artefacts were recorded from the fills of the moat. Post-excavation analysis and conservation work on the artefacts is ongoing.