2004:0523 - 152-155 CHURCH STREET AND MAY LANE, DUBLIN, Dublin

NMI Burial Excavation Records

County: Dublin Site name: 152-155 CHURCH STREET AND MAY LANE, DUBLIN

Sites and Monuments Record No.: N/A Licence number: 04E1328

Author: Cia McConway, Archaeological Development Services Ltd, Unit 48, Westlink Enterprise Centre, 30-50 Distillery Street, Belfast BT12 5BJ.

Site type: Urban, post-medieval burials

ITM: E 715217m, N 733790m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 53.341784, -6.269779

The proposed development lies on the north bank of the Liffey, bounded to the west by Bow Lane, to the north by May Lane, to the east by Church Street and to the south by the church and graveyard of St Michan's. Archaeological and historical research of the area suggests that St Michan's Church lies at the core of an enclosure which certainly appears to extend from Hammond Lane in the south, around to Bow Lane in the west and May Lane in the north. The extent on the east side is unknown.

Testing within the site revealed the presence of in situ burials, each supine and aligned east-west within a horizon of graveyard soil on average 1.2m deep. Pottery, clay pipes and coffin furniture recovered from this soil would suggest that the burials date to the 18th century.

The graveyard soil extended across an area 20m by 45m and appears to coincide with the graveyard annexe noted on Rocque's map of the area drawn in 1756. However, by 1846 the OS records the original rectangular graveyard with the annexe to the north removed and the general area noted as a 'vegetable market'. This evidence would strongly suggest that the annexe to the St Michan's graveyard was short-lived, lasting as little as 100 years. The evidence suggests that the annexe may have been developed in response to a once-off event or a series of short-lived events rather than a natural expansion of the graveyard of St Michan's. It has been suggested that the annexe might have been in response to the increased death rates recorded in Dublin around the middle of the 18th century due to a series of unusually cold winters (Laureen Buckley, pers. comm.).

The ground to the north of the site revealed evidence for a line of truncation, possibly a ditch, running east-west. This truncation, which clearly cut the upper layer of burials, is therefore also post-medieval in date. The areas surrounding the burials to the west, north and east were found to be heavily disturbed and truncated by basements.