2004:0625 - MALAHIDE CASTLE, MALAHIDE DEMESNE, Dublin

NMI Burial Excavation Records

County: Dublin Site name: MALAHIDE CASTLE, MALAHIDE DEMESNE

Sites and Monuments Record No.: N/A Licence number: 04E1528

Author: Tim Stevens and Ruair’ î Baoill, Archaeological Development Services Ltd, Unit 48, Westlink Enterprise Centre, 30-50 Distillery Street, Belfast BT12 5

Site type: Post-medieval garden

ITM: E 721927m, N 745441m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 53.444934, -6.164569

A watching brief on engineering pits was undertaken in the grounds of Malahide Castle in the area of the Barbican Tower, within a garden known as the 'Chicken Yard'. The work was necessitated by the apparent subsidence of the tower itself. Two pits were excavated down the side of the tower's stone foundations, which were stepped out by c. 0.1m. The foundations were bedded directly onto natural clay, with the slightest of construction cuts, which may actually have been formed by subsidence rather than by design. A thin layer of redeposited natural clay incorporating building materials lay above this, which in turn was sealed by garden topsoil. Although assumed to date from the 14th century, a visual inspection of the tower strongly suggests a much later date, an impression bolstered by the building material recovered from the redeposited natural. The associated garden was instated by 1801, and the tower construction may be contemporary with this. Far from fulfilling a defensive function during the early history of the castle (land granted to Richard Talbot by Henry II in 1185), it appears that the tower was built in imitation of castellated defensive architecture. It was not purely a folly, however, as it was used as a pigeon loft, apple store, garden store and, most interestingly, as a bee house for over-wintering bees. The western wall of the ground-floor chamber has 28 structurally integral niches: sixteen smaller ones for the collection of wax and twelve larger recesses at a lower level to hold the skeps themselves.