2004:0547 - DUBLIN: Golden Lane, Dublin

NMI Burial Excavation Records

County: Dublin Site name: DUBLIN: Golden Lane

Sites and Monuments Record No.: N/A Licence number: 04E1030

Author: Edmond O'Donovan, Margaret Gowen and Co. Ltd.

Site type: Graveyard and Historic town

Period/Dating: Multi-period

ITM: E 715332m, N 733741m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 53.341319, -6.268071

Test excavation was carried out on a proposed development site located on the eastern corner of Golden Lane and Chancery Lane within the former GE Capital Woodchester Bank site. The site incorporates part of the early ecclesiastic church and graveyard of St Michael le Pole, which is located immediately to the north of the proposed new building. No standing archaeological remains exist at the site. The site consists of a tarmacadam carpark and modern late 20th-century offices. A key component of the development application is the exemption of the site of the church of St Michael le Pole from invasive development and the preservation of that monument in situ, along with its associated archaeological deposits. Early ecclesiastic remains of the church of St Michael le Pole were excavated by the Dublin Archaeological Research Team (DART) in 1981 (Gowen 2001).

Testing was carried out on the remainder of the site to the north of the site of the church and graveyard. This sought to identify the southern graveyard wall of the site of St Michael Le Pole and to test the archaeological deposits within the proposed basement area generally.

The site of St Michael le Pole dates from as early as the 7th century AD and remained as a place of worship until the end of the 17th century, when it was converted into a school (Gowen 2001, 31). The foundations for a round tower and a church and the remains of a medieval graveyard were located during excavation at the site in 1981 (ibid., 38). The city of Dublin grew in parallel with the church site and Chancery Lane is recorded as a street from c. AD 1230 and Golden Lane is first referenced in AD 1382 (Clarke 2002, 13). The site of St Michael le Pole was completely surrounded by development in the city by the 18th century and no trace of the monument survives above ground level today.

The graveyard wall was located in three trenches. All trenches were excavated roughly north-north-west across the supposed line of the graveyard wall. A consistent picture emerged from each test-trench. The deposit profile on either side of the wall was distinctly different and indicated that burials were interred within (to the north) the graveyard up to the 19th century. These burials were identified c. 0.5m below the existing tarmacadam surface. The 18th- and 19th-century burials were identified in a green/brown silty clay with inclusions of red-brick rubble stone, disarticulated bone (human and animal) and later post-medieval pottery (18th- and 19th-century). This deposit represents the upper level of burial in the graveyard in the 19th century at c. 11.7m OD.

Outside the graveyard (on the southern side of the wall), the testing revealed burials located c. 2m below the existing ground level. The burials were identified in situ in a wet green/brown silty clay at 10.01m OD. They represent a phase of burial at the site that predates the site's enclosure within the rectangular walled graveyard, first illustrated on de Gomme's map of Dublin in 1673. Preliminary interpretation suggests they represent a phase of burial associated with the pre-Norman remains uncovered during the DART excavations. These deposits appear to date from between AD 500 and 1100.

Isolated early medieval burials have been found in excavations on neighbouring sites; however, the identification of human remains in both Trenches A and C suggests that a number of burials lie beyond the graveyard wall immediately adjacent to the church site. The density of burial outside the wall is clearly significantly lower than established to the north (inside the graveyard wall). Burials were not found in Cutting 5 in the 1981 excavations by the DART team; this suggests that early burials are located 5–10m within the basement area.

Deep deposits of medieval and post-medieval garden soil were found in the trenches to the rear of the street-front portion of the site, outside the graveyard. These deposit sequences represent the occupation on Chancery Lane and Golden Lane dating from the 13th to the 19th century. This finding is consisted with the results of the 1981 investigations.

The street-front portion of the site along Chancery Lane and Golden Lane was developed with houses at least by the mid-18th century.

John Rocque's map of the city illustrates the extent of these buildings in 1756. Property plots extend from the rear of these buildings into the site and both the remains of 18th-century basements and limestone cap property boundary walls were uncovered in the test-trenches. The Golden Lane street-front portion of the site was unavailable for testing, due to the presence of the late 20th-century Woodchester Building.

Clarke, H.B. 2002 Irish historic towns atlas No. 11, Dublin, Part I, to 1610. Dublin.
Gowen, M. 2001 Excavations at the site of the church and tower of St Michael le Pole, Dublin. In S. Duffy (ed), Medieval Dublin II, 13–52. Dublin.

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