2004:0516 - DUBLIN: 43–45 Bolton Street, 17–17A Henrietta Street and 10 Henrietta Place, Dublin

NMI Burial Excavation Records

County: Dublin Site name: DUBLIN: 43–45 Bolton Street, 17–17A Henrietta Street and 10 Henrietta Place

Sites and Monuments Record No.: N/A Licence number: 03E1935 ext.

Author: Ken Wiggins, Judith Carroll & Co. Ltd.

Site type: Excavation - miscellaneous

Period/Dating: Modern (AD 1750-AD 2000)

ITM: E 715205m, N 734945m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 53.352159, -6.269539

The site of the development is located at the northern end of a property block bounded on the east by Bolton Street, to the north by Henrietta Street, to the west by Henrietta Place and to the south by Yarnhall Street. The site measures c. 35m (east-west) by up to c. 25m.

The development involved the demolition of the existing buildings and the construction of a new building incorporating 42 apartments, three retail shop units, roof gardens, student communal facilities and a ground-floor courtyard with basement storage and car and cycle parking at two basement levels. The site was formerly an upholstery business fronting onto Bolton Street, with an associated enclosed yard space to the rear accessed from Henrietta Street.

Dublin City Council requested that an assessment of the site be carried out. This assessment was twofold. An initial detailed study of the archaeological and historical background of the site was followed by the excavation of nine test-trenches (Excavations 2003, No. 500). The testing of the site failed to uncover any features or artefacts of archaeological significance. These negative findings were due to the presence of existing and backfilled cellars below much of the standing fabric of the property. The limited yard areas that were not affected by cellar insertions were also found to contain considerable volumes of rubble fill, due to the insertion of ceramic pipes, etc.

The Dublin city archaeologist recommended that monitoring of construction groundwork, following demolition of the existing structure, was appropriate in this case. Monitoring took place between late June and late September 2004 following the demolition of much of the interior masonry of the site. A test-trench was machine-dug at the south-western corner against the northern end of standing apartments fronting onto Henrietta Place. The trench was dug to a depth of c. 3m. The lower 1.5m went through natural mid-brown clay, below a 1.5m-deep layer of loose grey-brown clay containing large volumes of brick, ash, mortar and stone.

Digging continued in early July to the rear of No. 45 Bolton Street, not yet demolished, where a static crane was to be erected. A concrete floor with a depth of 0.6m was broken up and removed. The sub-floor fill was composed of loose grey-brown clay with much brick, stone, mortar, ceramic piping, etc. The ground had been penetrated by reinforced concrete piling. Soft, sandy brown subsoil was exposed below the rubble fill. The overall depth of excavation here was 4.3m. The crane base was established by 12 July.

Subsequently, a block of material was dug out along the Henrietta Street frontage. Two backfilled cellars were exposed, with a dividing wall between them. The backfill was loose grey-brown clay containing large quantities of brick and stone. This material was up to c. 2.5m deep and was deposited directly on brown natural clay. Following this, no further digging took place until early August.

Digging resumed along the Henrietta Place side, at the south-west corner of the site where the test-trench was dug in June. Clay, brick and stone rubble was dug out to a depth of c. 2.5m, well into the underlying light-brown gravelly subsoil. Only one block of the site remained to be dug, the angle between Henrietta Place and Henrietta Street, at the north-western corner. The Bolton Street frontage to the north-east and below No. 45 Bolton Street to the south-east did not involve digging, as existing basements were located here. These basements had been tested at the end of 2003. Digging in the angle of Henrietta Place/Street was to a depth of 2.2.–2.5m. The upper 1.2–1.5m was clay, brick and stone infill, below which was a layer of boulder clay, 0.5m thick, stratified on natural soft grey-brown sediment and gravel.

Near the end of August, the site entrance was moved closer to the Bolton Street end of Henrietta Street to facilitate the digging of the last block of fill material in the angle of Henrietta Street and Henrietta Place, as far as the rear wall of the existing basement along the Bolton Street frontage. Digging removed large volumes of loose grey silty clay containing much brick, stone and mortar, exposing the surface of the natural gravel, to a total depth of c. 3m below the pavement on Henrietta Street. Once the Bolton Street basement wall was reached, digging work on site was concluded.

A stone-lined well was discovered c. 5m west of the basement wall and c. 6m south of the Henrietta Street frontage. It had an internal diameter of 0.85m. The backfill, hand-excavated to a depth of 0.9m, consisted of soft grey/dark-grey sediment containing some mortared stone, brick fragments, small animal bones, shell and sherds of modern pottery. The well also contained an upright hollowed-out timber with a diameter of 0.19–0.22m. A well discovered off Broad Street, Limerick, in late 2002 contained a similar timber (Excavations 2002, No. 1212, 02E1531). The remains of the well were covered over and preserved in situ. The well probably dates from some time after 1724, the year Henrietta Street was created. It would have been backfilled when the properties in this part of Henrietta Street were abandoned and demolished, which occurred before publication of the OS edition of 1936.

13 Anglesea Street, Temple Bar, Dublin 2