2003:1475 - TRIM: 18 Market Street, Meath

NMI Burial Excavation Records

County: Meath Site name: TRIM: 18 Market Street

Sites and Monuments Record No.: SMR 36:48 Licence number: 02E1671

Author: Donal Fallon, CRDS Ltd.

Site type: Town defences, Structure, Pit and Well

Period/Dating: Medieval (AD 400-AD 1600)

ITM: E 679977m, N 756795m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 53.554977, -6.792972

Excavations were carried out on a site at the junction of Market Street and Emmet Street in advance of the construction of an extension to Trim Credit Union. Pre-development testing had been carried out by Carmel Duffy, identifying archaeological deposits of medieval date up to 1.5m in depth (No. 1474, Excavations 2003, 02E1671).

The site fronts onto Market Street, close to the centre of the Anglo-Norman town, which has been identified as a zone of archaeological potential. The excavation covered an area measuring c. 28m long by 12m wide, extending south from the Market Street frontage across the possible location of two separate burgage plots, as identified in the Urban Archaeological Survey.

Rescue excavation and monitoring took place between May and August 2003. It resulted in the exposure of substantial medieval and post-medieval deposits. The earliest feature in the stratigraphy of the site was a compact metalled surface (c. 0.15m deep) extending over the entire area of the site and beyond the limits of the excavation area. This surface was sealed by a shallow organic layer (c. 0.2m deep), containing substantial quantities of animal bone. The extent of these deposits and the absence of any diagnostic finds would suggest they pre-date the establishment of burgage plots within the medieval town.

Both deposits had been truncated by a substantial ditch (2.2m deep, minimum width 5m), extending along the western perimeter of the property beyond the limits of the excavation area to both north and south. The western extent of this ditch was not fully exposed, as it extended under the existing Emmet Street frontage. A layer of redeposited natural clays (c. 0.5–0.9m deep), apparently representing the outcast of the ditch, sealed the earlier deposits over the remainder of the excavation area.

Previous monitoring on Market Street by Rosanne Meenan had exposed a possible extension of this ditch extending north under the existing street surface (Excavations 1996, No. 315, 96E0175). This would suggest the existence of a substantial ditch extending along the eastern side of Emmet Street and across Market Street, possibly representing an earlier town boundary or enclosure pre-dating the existing circuit of the town walls, which are of late 14th- or early 15th-century date. The ditch appears to have been deliberately backfilled within the medieval period.

A range of medieval features was exposed overlying or cutting into the layer of redeposited natural clays and the backfill of the ditch. Structural evidence was concentrated at the northern extent of the site on the Market Street frontage and post-dated the backfill of the ditch; a metalled surface extended east-west across the front of the site, possibly representing an internal surface; a later drystone wall base extended east-west across the surface, possibly representing the remains of a clay or timber structure fronting onto Market Street; a possible slot-trench, also aligned east-west, was also exposed.

In the rear and centre of the site a number of substantial external cut features of medieval date were exposed: cesspits, refuse pits and a drystone well with an associated post setting for a superstructure. Significant quantities of medieval ceramics and animal bone were recovered from within the cesspits and the backfill of the well.

A crude mortared stone structure was exposed in the south-west corner of the excavation area, apparently representing a building of early post-medieval date fronting onto Emmet Street. The poor level of construction and the dimensions (5m by 7.5m minimum) suggest it may simply have functioned as an outbuilding.

All deposits on-site had been heavily disturbed by the construction of the 19th-century building demolished prior to the excavation, obscuring many of the stratigraphic relationships. In particular, the deep foundation trenches had truncated all deposits at the northern end of the site.

A total of 1101 artefacts were recovered from the excavation. The ceramic assemblage from the site consisted of 228 sherds of post-medieval pottery and 754 sherds of medieval pottery, including Ham Green B ware, Saintonge, Dublin ware, Trim ware, line-impressed floor tile and a range of locally produced cooking wares. Medieval metal finds consisted of a fragment of belt buckle, a possible iron chisel and assorted iron nails. A small number of leather off-cuts and one large worked timber fragment were also recovered.

Unit 4, Dundrum Business Park, Dundrum, Dublin 14