2003:1997 - Pearse Street, Mullingar, Westmeath

NMI Burial Excavation Records

County: Westmeath Site name: Pearse Street, Mullingar

Sites and Monuments Record No.: SMR 19:89 Licence number: 03E0042

Author: Dominic Delany, Unit 3, Howley Court, Oranmore, Co. Galway.

Site type: Post-medieval

ITM: E 643786m, N 753088m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 53.525927, -7.339640

Testing was carried out on a proposed development site in Pearse Street, Mullingar, on 13-15 January 2003. The development site is located in the south-west corner of the zone of archaeological potential around Mullingar and is adjacent to the 19th-century All Saints' Church, which is built on the site of a medieval church. The suggested course of the south-west angle of the town defences also crosses the development site. There is no evidence that Mullingar was walled during the Middle Ages, but it is unlikely that it could have survived as a settlement into the 16th century without defences of some kind.

The development site comprises the grounds pertaining to Annebrook House, a Georgian house which is to be converted and extended as part of the proposed development. The now derelict house is probably of late 18th-century date and there is an adjoining courtyard surrounded by fine cut-stone outbuildings on the north. The arched entrance to the courtyard is cobbled and it was assumed to be likely that the courtyard itself, which is presently overgrown with grass, is also cobbled. The lands to the south comprise the former gardens pertaining to the house. These are divided north-south by a garden wall and hedge, the line of which is situated immediately north of the suggested line of the town defences. The north or upper garden is on two levels, divided east-west by a retaining wall footing. The garden wall and the retaining wall footing are relatively modern features built of rubble and brick. The lower, south, garden is overgrown with trees and scrub vegetation. The River Brosna enters the development site at the north, runs underground at the front of the house and reappears to the south, where it forms the eastern boundary of the gardens.

Testing comprised the mechanical excavation of six trenches (20-45m long), five in the former gardens to the south of the house and one in the courtyard to the north. Linear cuts and oval pits of post-medieval date were found in the south garden, in Trenches 1 and 2. Nineteenth-century garden features, including a stepped passageway and part of a demolished building, were found in the north garden (Trenches 3-5). A centrally located well and part of a fine cobbled surface were exposed in the courtyard to the north of the house (Trench 6). The excavation of a test-pit on the south side of the well revealed 1m of fill overlying a soft peaty deposit with inclusions of animal bone and organic material. No datable finds were recovered from the peat, but it was deemed to be a deposit of archaeological potential. Further excavation was recommended.