2004:0236 - CITI CARPARK, GRAND PARADE, CORK, Cork

NMI Burial Excavation Records

County: Cork Site name: CITI CARPARK, GRAND PARADE, CORK

Sites and Monuments Record No.: SMR 74:122, 74:34(01) Licence number: 04E0132

Author: Deborah Sutton, Sheila Lane & Associates, AE House, Monahan Road, Cork.

Site type: Urban medieval

ITM: E 567301m, N 571812m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 51.897505, -8.475117

Excavations were undertaken over a period of nine months in 2003/2004 on a waterfront site at the southern limit of the walled medieval city of Cork, east of the medieval main street. The site extended east from South Main Street to the rear of buildings fronting the Grand Parade and was excavated under two licences. Three areas in the eastern half of the site were excavated under the above licence. Four areas were excavated in the western half of the site by M‡ire N' Loingsigh (Excavations 2003, No. 225, 03E1170). Much of the material recovered pre-dated the construction of the city wall in the early 13th century.

Trench 1 was excavated east-west along the southern perimeter of the site and exposed the top and south face of the city wall.

Trench 2 was excavated at the eastern side of the development site. Radially cleft timber reclamation fences, two parallel timber waterfront revetments, and over 1m thick of manually introduced clays were exposed in this trench, all evidence of the early 12th-century reclamation of the reed marsh island in the River Lee.

Trench 3 was excavated to the north side of the city wall, west of Trench 2. Excavation exposed three phases of timber revetments, including a waterfront jetty. This was followed by the construction of a timber raft foundation on which the city wall was erected.

Excavation confirmed that the reclamation of a reed marsh island in the River Lee, initiated in the late 11th century at the western end of the Citi Carpark site, extended eastwards over a period of c. 40 years and was finally enclosed by timber revetments along the southern perimeter of the island. Locally sourced estuarine muds were dumped from the west to either side of an unbraced east-west fence of cleft oak timbers dated to AD 1100. The base of the fence timbers, which doubled as a property boundary, were driven into the natural muds of the reed marsh and averaged 1.5m in height. Split posts, probably roped to the timbers, held the upper part of the fences together. Similarly constructed north-south fences, dated to c. 1123/1124, retained a second phase of reclamation clays, which raised ground levels to the west of the fences and were also deposited to the east as reclamation advanced eastwards. Wattle repairs suggest use over a long period of time. An east-west fence, constructed in 1134/1135 by driving pointed and unbraced cleft timbers into a third phase of introduced muds, extended the original boundary fence eastwards.

Along the southern perimeter of the reed marsh island, a low stone bank defined the island edge. Six large timber posts, driven into the inter-bedded muds and gravels to the south of the stone bank c. AD 1143, were all that remained of a crude early enclosing revetment. Two parallel timber revetments constructed to the south of the posts retained manually introduced muds to the north. The most southerly revetment appears to have replaced the abutting revetment to the north in c. mid-12th century (dendrochronological dates range from AD 1152 ± 9 to AD 1166 ± 9). The revetments comprised up to two horizontal runs of edge-laid planks, braced to the south by upright posts pegged into mortised base plates.

A timber jetty, 10.2m long and surviving to a height of 1.8m, replaced part of the waterfront revetments in c. AD 1160. Carpentry techniques employed in the construction of the jetty are typical of similar waterfront structures in London and Dublin from the late 12th century. Repairs to the jetty in c. 1197 and the replacement of the adjacent revetments in the mid-12th century suggest a long period of use.

The jetty and revetments are likely to have enclosed the medieval town prior to the construction of the stone city wall on a timber raft in the early 13th century. Domestic waste dumped behind the city wall rapidly raised ground levels as the wall was being constructed. In the late 17th century, a limestone quay, 12.68m long, was built against the south face of the city wall. Post-medieval features exposed in the upper levels of the site include walls and drains and are likely to be associated with Lane's Brewery, which was built on the site in the mid-late 18th century.