2004:0517 - DUBLIN: Kevin Street Garda Station, 35–47 Bride Street, Dublin

NMI Burial Excavation Records

County: Dublin Site name: DUBLIN: Kevin Street Garda Station, 35–47 Bride Street

Sites and Monuments Record No.: DU018-020, DU018-383 andDU018-355 Licence number: 04E0294

Author: Linzi Simpson, Margaret Gowen & Co. Ltd.

Site type: Historic town

Period/Dating: Multi-period

ITM: E 715239m, N 733462m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 53.338833, -6.269568

An assessment was carried out in June 2004 on a large site comprising the eastern yard of Kevin Street Garda Station and the western frontage of Bride Street. The garda station is the known site of the medieval palace of Sepulchre, which was established in 1184 by Archbishop John Comyn, the first Anglo-Norman archbishop of Dublin. Most of the original medieval quadrangle still survives in some form and is incorporated within the station and ancillary buildings. This includes a tower (currently the mess), three groin-vaulted cellars and a 15th-century doorway in the western wall; Danielle O'Donovan carried out a recent study of these buildings, the results of which have been published (see below). The proposed development seeks to build along the western frontage of Bride Street and, although there will be no impact under the current scheme on the standing medieval buildings, the proposed development does transgress the line of the southeast corner of the quadrangle.

The assessment consisted of a series of test-trenches excavated throughout the site in three main areas, Areas 1–3. In Area 1 (corner of Kevin Street and Bride Street) the assessment established that the Georgian houses along the Kevin Street frontage had no cellars, thus the post-medieval structural deposits in this area were limited to 0.5–0.8m in depth. These included at least one wall and part of a cobbled surface, which were founded on a post-medieval clay deposit 0.2–0.4m in depth. This sealed a thin medieval clay deposit of c. 0.2m in depth. The testing also found what appeared to represent a medieval ditch feature, which ran parallel to Kevin Street and measured at least 3.2m in width by 0.65m in depth and was filled with dark-green clay.

The assessment also established that there were no cellars located along the present eastern side of Bride Street, but this was because the street had been widened on this side and the houses depicted on Rocque's map of Dublin, dated 1756, now lie beneath the existing road. The upper levels were composed of post-medieval clay layers, 0.5–1.5m in depth, which included at least one large hearth or oven. These layers sealed medieval deposits of clay, on average 0.4m in depth, which contained fragments of animal bone, shell and charcoal. There was also evidence of medieval pits cut into the boulder clay.

The eastern courtyard (the car-pound) of the garda station formed Area 2, but testing in this area was very limited due to the presence of services, and the proposed line of the medieval quadrangle could not be tested. The northern end was composed of rubble and brick walls to a depth of 1.3m, which were cut into boulder clay, while elsewhere the assessment identified post-medieval clay deposits c. 0.7m in depth. Further south, shallow medieval deposits, which were only 0.2m in depth, were located and these were sealed by almost 1m of post-medieval clay.

Area 3 formed the north-east area of the development site, fronting onto Bride Street, which is currently a garage, but little testing was done here due to the presence of live services. However, the testing does suggest that there is no evidence of 18th-century cellars in this area, the deposits being confined to post-medieval clays which were over 0.4m in depth.

In summary, the testing suggested that there are medieval deposits of clay in some areas of the site with the potential for medieval structures, especially in the area of the quadrangle. The post-medieval phase is also well represented by clay and structural deposits and, most importantly, by the standing buildings attached to the western yard of the garda station; at least one is possibly medieval in date. Work on this project is ongoing.

O'Donovan, D. 2003 English patron, English building? The importance of St Sepulchre archiepiscopal palace, Dublin. In S. Duffy (ed.), Medieval Dublin IV, 253–78. Dublin.

27 Merrion Square, Dublin 2