2003:2069 - Blessington Demesne, Wicklow

NMI Burial Excavation Records

County: Wicklow Site name: Blessington Demesne

Sites and Monuments Record No.: N/A Licence number: 02E1748

Author: Sinéad Phelan, Margaret Gowen & Co. Ltd, 2 Killiney View, Albert Road Lower, Glenageary, Co. Dublin.

Site type: Post-medieval garden

ITM: E 697206m, N 714934m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 53.175986, -6.545908

Monitoring of a housing development, which also includes retail educational and leisure facilities, took place within the confines of Blessington Demesne. The development also includes the construction of a portion of the Blessington Inner Relief Road through the townlands of Newpaddocks, Holyvalley, Haylands and Santryhill. Blessington Demesne is located west of Blessington village. The main avenue runs from Blessington Church to the remains of Downshire House. Michael Doyle, Archbishop of Dublin, constructed Downshire House in the late 17th century. A solitary stairwell with an underground cellar is the only visible remains of the house.

Monitoring began on 24 January 2003 in advance of the inner relief road as part of a town development plan. This was the first phase of topsoil-stripping, which took place over a four-week period in January-February 2003.

One path feature was identified (13.8m by 7.5m by 0.12m, orientated south-west/north-east), possibly a dump of stone in a wetter area to ensure access for horses and carts. A series of post-medieval agricultural furrows orientated north-east/south-west, 1.3m by 20m with a depth of 0.12m, were found. There is a later series of similar agricultural furrows cutting the earlier furrows in a north-south direction. The fill was a light-brown sod with red brick, slate and gravel. One sherd of black/brown post-medieval pottery was recovered from within a furrow. A subrectangular feature, 15m by 20m (north-south), was exposed beneath 0.6m of topsoil in the south-westerly area of the road. This was the remains of an old garden path made up of red brick, pebbles, limestone and mortar.

The 'missing' demesne wall foundations were exposed. The wall ran for 20m north-south, had a width of 1m and was 1.2m deep. It runs parallel to the surviving demesne wall. The wall will not be directly impacted upon; it will remain in situ beneath the new road.

Nothing of archaeological significance was uncovered during the course of the topsoil-stripping for the inner relief road at Blessington Demesne; all the features exposed related to the garden of the demesne.