2003:1992 - MULLINGAR: Blackhall Place, Westmeath

NMI Burial Excavation Records

County: Westmeath Site name: MULLINGAR: Blackhall Place

Sites and Monuments Record No.: WM019-089004- Licence number: 03E1108

Author: Rob Lynch, IAC Ltd.

Site type: Religious house - Dominican friars and Graveyard

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

ITM: E 643494m, N 752866m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 53.523965, -7.344070

The results of previous testing on the site, at Blackhall Place, Mullingar, Co. Westmeath, indicated that there were a number of human burials within the development area, which were probably associated with the 13th-century Dominican priory immediately to the south. It is suggested that the block currently bounded by Pearse Street, Blackhall Street, Meeting House Lane and Mount Street is one of the earliest sectors of the medieval town. It may have been in existence prior to the arrival of the Dominicans, who subsequently built their priory on the lands to the west and south of that block.

The development of the site was to be carried out in two phases. Phase 1 comprises the demolition of sheds, change of use of a dwelling-house to office space and the construction of a three-storey office block with car-parking and ancillary works. The new office block will be supported by means of piles. Phase 2 comprises demolition of a warehouse and the construction of a three-storey guesthouse, vehicular access and associated services.

As the development was to be piled, the excavation strategy involved the advance excavation of all pile-pits, lift shafts, services, etc. The excavation was undertaken from August to October 2003. It revealed in excess of 150 burials buried over at least three phases. Most were simple inhumations; however, the presence of one substantial stone-lined coffin also indicated the presence of high-status individuals within the site, probably associated with the priory. Burials were generally aligned east-west, but there was one aligned north-south, which was also buried prone (face down), both of which are unusual traits, perhaps consistent with the burial of a social outcast or criminal. In addition, the recovery of numerous medieval floor tiles and pieces of cut masonry suggested the presence of an adjacent building which had subsequently been levelled. Post-excavation work, including the analysis of the remains, is ongoing.

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