2003:2096 - Kingdom Hall, Church Street, Wicklow, Wicklow

NMI Burial Excavation Records

County: Wicklow Site name: Kingdom Hall, Church Street, Wicklow

Sites and Monuments Record No.: N/A Licence number: 03E1565

Author: Eoin Halpin, Archaeological Development Services, Westlink Enterprise Centre, 30-50 Distillery Street, Belfast BT12 5BJ.

Site type: Medieval occupation

ITM: E 731222m, N 694035m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 52.980977, -6.045863

Testing took place in October 2003 at the site of Kingdom Hall, Church Street, Wicklow, at the location of a proposed complex that will include a new Kingdom Prayer Hall, two apartments, two shop units and office space. The site was within the zone of archaeological potential for Wicklow town.

Four trenches were excavated across the site, all of which exposed archaeological deposits. Trench 1 measured 10m in length, ran parallel to Church Street and was located 1m from the edge of the existing pathway. The overburden, which consisted of clay and building rubble, was 0.75m in depth. Below this was a layer of light yellowish-brown silty clay with frequent flecks and lumps of charcoal throughout. At the western end of this trench, the depth of this material was found to be c. 0.35m, directly overlying the natural subsoil, which consisted of a mid-yellowish-brown gravelly clay. Two linear features were recorded in this trench, cut through the clay deposit. These appeared to be foundation trenches associated with the building which had previously occupied the site.

Trench 2 ran north for 12m, from the southern end of Trench 1. Here the overburden also measured 0.75m in depth but contained less rubble and more clay than Trench 1. Two features were recorded. One, at the eastern end, was a modern foundation trench and the other appeared to be a large pit, c. 9m in diameter, the upper fill of which contained red brick. Both of these features were cut through the clay material described above. At the western end of the trench, this material was found to have decreased in depth to c. 0.05m. No material other than charcoal was recovered while the depth of this material was being tested.

Leading to the north from the end of Trench 2, Trench 3 measured 10m in length and was excavated through 0.75m of clay and rubble overburden. Again this trench displayed the clay material exposed in the previous trenches, but at least one, if not two, features were cut into this material. The first was a pit measuring 1.2m by 0.4m. It was 0.2m in depth, filled by a dark-grey, gritty, silty clay with frequent stones; from within this fill, two pieces of medieval pottery (a fragment of Saintonge and a fragment of possible locally produced ware) and a fragment of prehistoric pottery were recovered. The two fragments were quite fresh and probably provide a date for the digging of the pit, while the fragment of prehistoric pottery was quite worn and was probably deposited in the pit accidentally. At the northern end of the trench was a spread of material, similar to that which filled the pit described above, which extended beyond the limits of the trench. The exposed portion of this possible feature measured 2m in width and length.

Running between the ends of Trenches 1 and 3 was Trench 4. This measured 12m in length and the overburden here remained the same as in the previous trenches in depth and composition. Again the clay material was exposed and cutting through it were three features. Two were foundation trenches associated with the recently demolished building. The third feature, which was truncated by one of the foundation trenches, may be associated with the medieval pit described above. This feature measured 0.4m in length (east-west) by 0.3m and was 0.07m in depth. The fill consisted of mixed layers of burnt clay with frequent charcoal flecking.

Testing carried out here identified a number of archaeological features. A layer of archaeological material was exposed in each of the four trenches. It is likely that this material covers the majority of the site. It was up to 0.35m in depth at the eastern end of the site but appeared to be petering out towards the western end. No artefacts were recovered from this layer, but it is likely that this material dates from the 14th century or earlier. The pit uncovered in Trench 3 produced a fragment of 14th-century pottery. As this feature is cut into the clay deposit, the clay must pre-date it. Taking the fragment of prehistoric pottery recovered from the pit into account, it is possible that this clay material may be considerably older than the medieval pit. Along with the pit which produced the pottery, there were another two pit features which may also date to the same period exposed within the limits of the trenches. This makes it highly likely that more features will be exposed with the further removal of the overburden.