2003:1923 - Christchurch Cathedral, Waterford, Waterford

NMI Burial Excavation Records

County: Waterford Site name: Christchurch Cathedral, Waterford

Sites and Monuments Record No.: SMR 9:16(02) Licence number: 03E0190

Author: Stuart D. Elder, for Margaret Gowen & Co. Ltd, 2 Killiney View, Albert Road Lower, Glenageary, Co. Dublin.

Site type: Urban medieval

ITM: E 660920m, N 612399m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 52.259920, -7.107609

Christchurch Cathedral has been undergoing a multi-million-euro programme of repair, refurbishment and conservation since 1997, part of which was remedial works to the leaking roof and restoration of some of the ornate plasterwork. A proposal was also made at the time to open up a cavity in the floor to display the base of a sandstone column belonging to the original medieval cathedral. These works were monitored by Ed O'Donovan (Excavations 1997, No. 576, 97E0459).

The most recent monitoring work took place during the excavation of four pits straddling the central aisle, part of the foundation for the new organ gallery. The pits were hand excavated. The two western pits were excavated, to a depth of around 0.65m, through a matrix of mixed demolition debris comprising stone and mortar fragments, humic soil and occasional fragments of wood. The easternmost pits revealed a substantial wall, c. 0.3m below the present floor surface, orientated roughly north-south on the same alignment as the present arch and its flanking walls.

Five fragments of worked stone were recovered from the pits, as were several fragments of disarticulated human bone. It is intended that these items will be returned to the church for storage and/or reburial at a later date.

Ongoing restoration work includes the removal of cement-based render from the exterior faces of the church, to be replaced by a lime-based render, thereby allowing the fabric of the building to 'breathe'. The south and west faces of the building were stripped and 102 architectural fragments were photographed and recorded in situ. These included fragments of fluted columns, roll mouldings and mullion and window elements. It is clear from these two faces that a substantial portion of medieval stonework was reused to construct the present church.