2011:046 - Carlow Main Drainage Scheme, Carlow (Urban District), Carlow

NMI Burial Excavation Records

County: Carlow Site name: Carlow Main Drainage Scheme, Carlow (Urban District)

Sites and Monuments Record No.: CW007-018, CW007-065-7 Licence number: 10E0175 and 10E0175 ext.

Author: Judith Carroll

Site type: Monitoring

ITM: E 677668m, N 663717m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 52.718975, -6.850370

The Carlow Main Drainage Scheme is situated in Carlow town and extends throughout the town (CW007-018) and suburbs (Moanacurragh, Chaplestown, Kernanstown, Polleton). The scheme is concentrated on the east side of the River Barrow. It is a pipeline scheme, replacing the existing system with an upgraded one. Licence to monitor the works was granted in May 2010; the works have been ongoing throughout 2011 and into 2012.

In March 2011 a large area of disarticulated human remains was found to the west of Carlow Castle on Castle Hill. It is proposed that the remains relate to the burial site previously reported for this scheme (Excavations 2010, no. 74), when east–west-aligned burials were found in Kennedy Street/Mill Lane to the east of Carlow Castle. These burials probably relate to an early site marked by a disused burial site on Castle Hill which is still extant and was locally known as Crocan na Relige. Much of this site was removed during the 18th century for housing. A monastery is claimed to have been founded by St Comgall in Carlow in the 6th century, and this may well be its site.

In July 2011 a burnt feature, curvilinear in shape, which may have been a burnt mound, was recorded. The feature is very close to the edge of the river, and it appears that the two ends of its curving line may have joined up with the river. This feature was composed of blackish clay and burnt stone fragments. The discovery of charcoal-enriched clay containing heat-cracked stone fragments is typically associated with burnt mound activity dating from the later prehistoric period. Burnt mound sites in general are located close to a water source, such as a river, but no evidence for burnt mound activity—apart from the fill of the curvilinear feature—was found in the whole area stripped for the laying of the drainage pipe. Samples were taken and the feature was recorded.


Excavations at Chaplestown, Co. Carlow (No. 46).

At the north end of Barrack Street, on the east side of the street, the pipeline scheme revealed a well. There is no sign of the well on the first-edition 6in. map of the area but the feature is not far from the barracks and gaol. The feature was photographed and recorded though it was found possible to bypass the well, which was covered up and preserved in situ.

Works continued in 2011 on the east side of Kennedy Street into Castle Street (to the east of Kennedy Street/Castle Hill). In late September 2011, pits came to light on Castle Street and excavation of archaeological deposits revealed several sherds of medieval pottery recovered from black clayey silt deposits towards the eastern end of the trench. These were identified provisionally (pending the specialist report) as 13th-century vessels of Irish, English and French origin.


Pipe trench in Castle Street, Carlow, showing hand-excavated pits in the section (No. 46).



Medieval pottery from pits in Castle Street, Carlow (No. 46).


In October 2011, excavation took place on a construction pit in Church Street, which branches off Castle Street alongside the medieval Abbey of St Mary, Church Street. Human remains came to light here and were photographed, planned and excavated. The burials were extended east–west inhumations, the upper layer associated with degraded wood and iron attachments from coffins. The remains are 0.7m below pavement level.

Human remains found in Church Street, Carlow (No. 46).

Judith Carroll & Company Ltd, Consultant Archaeologists, 11 Anglesea Street, Temple Bar, Dublin 2