2003:1443 - Castle Street, Oldcastle, Meath

NMI Burial Excavation Records

County: Meath Site name: Castle Street, Oldcastle

Sites and Monuments Record No.: SMR 9:18 Licence number: 03E0105

Author: Christopher Read, North West Archaeological Services Ltd, Cloonfad Cottage, Cloonfad, Carrick-on-Shannon, Co. Leitrim.

Site type: Well

ITM: E 655149m, N 780287m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 53.769252, -7.163458

The proposed development site, located on Castle Street in the centre of Oldcastle, Co. Meath, is to include the refurbishment of an existing pub and the construction of two new buildings, one to the rear of the pub, the other facing onto Castle Street. Monitoring of excavation works associated with the proposed new buildings was carried out between 3 and 7 February. The site is located within the zone of archaeological potential for a medieval church and graveyard located immediately south of the site.

All excavation work was carried out by machine. The excavation comprised four trenches, 1.2-1.4m wide and excavated to a depth of 1.2m. The natural, a mottled orange compact clay, was revealed at a depth of 0.5-0.6m below the existing ground surface. This was sealed by a mixed deposit of rubble, red brick and a gritty grey clay. Roughly in the centre of the proposed development site, the remains of a large, well-preserved well were revealed at a depth of 0.6m below the existing ground surface. The well is keyhole-shaped and constructed of stone and red brick with large timber beams providing structural support to the main chamber. The main chamber is circular, 1.6m in diameter and at least 15m deep. A rectangular ‘entrance’ to the well, measuring 0.7m wide, 2.1m long and 3.5m deep, projects to the south from the main chamber.

Attempts were made to date the well through documentary research. While general information on the history of Oldcastle was obtained, including a few references to the adjacent church, no information on the well was found. The existing Church of Ireland church was built in 1816 and it is situated on the site of an earlier church dedicated to St Bridget. No date for the earlier church could be found. The first-edition OS map could not be accessed, although this would simply have confirmed that the well was built prior to the 1830s. Based upon the construction of the well and the red-brick insertions, it is likely the well is comparable in date to the adjacent church and its proximity suggests a relationship.

All excavation works associated with the proposed development were monitored. There was no evidence of any archaeological activity on the site, beyond the well described above.