2013:145 - 25-26 Gladstone Street, Tipperary

NMI Burial Excavation Records

County: Tipperary Site name: 25-26 Gladstone Street

Sites and Monuments Record No.: TS083-019 Licence number: 12E098 Ext.

Author: Mary Henry

Site type: Clonmel

ITM: E 620245m, N 622634m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 52.354916, -7.702809

Archaeological works were undertaken at Nos. 25 and 26 Gladstone Street, Clonmel, pursuant to findings from testing completed in late 2012?. Planning permission has been obtained to renovate, carry out alterations to and build a small extension to the rear of Nos. 25-26 Gladstone St. The renovated building will be used as a Community Building.

Further to granted planning permission, two test trenches were opened on the site in late 2012, specifically on the imprint of the proposed extension site to the rear of the main building. Following testing, and the results therein, it was necessary to undertake additional archaeological works at on the site. These works were required in advance of constructing the small extension to the rear of the main building.

The development site at Nos. 25 and 26 Gladstone Street was located to the north of Clonmel town centre, at the Lower Gladstone Street/Morton Street junction. Gladstone Street, aligned on the north/south axis, is the second main thoroughfare extending through Clonmel town centre whilst Morton Street is a narrow residential street perpendicular to Gladstone Street. It is considered the line of the medieval town wall extends through the site on an east/west alignment. Both Nos. 25 and 26 Gladstone Stree were vacant buildings, formerly used as a convent with a small church to the rear. A single storey return structure, as part of the convent, formerly stood on the site of the new extension.

A number of areas were investigated, in particular piling locations, a lift shaft and a service route. Furthermore the town wall, which was found in the testing works in late 2012, was protected with a geotextile membrane and covered with sand. The use of mini auger piles was a more appropriate option than that of a standard strip or raft foundation as such a foundation type could have potentially impacted upon the town wall by transferring stress through the soil to the wall. The used of piles negated this.

The entire site of the new extension was reduced by c. 0.4m below existing ground level, i.e. the floor level of the now demolished single storey return structure which formerly stood on the site. The reduced material comprised overburden typically made up of builder’s debris, rubble, stones intermixed with a loose, mid greyish brown sandy clay. The lift shaft area was excavated. The lift shaft was designed to stay above the 1.05m level to ensure the avoidance of the archaeological features uncovered during the testing phase, which occurred 1.1m below ground level. Whilst excavating the remainder of the lift shaft area, to the 1.04m level, nothing of an archaeological nature was uncovered. The area proved to have been very disturbed by a manhole, services and wall foundations.

Four areas, averaging 1.58m x 1.4m and at each corner of the proposed extension, were excavated for the auger piles. Undertaken both manually and mechanically, excavations extended to a between 1.3m and 2.97m (maximum).   In pile location No. 1 the foundation trench for the back wall of the main convent building dominated at least half of this opening whilst in its remainder the natural deposition occurred 0.75m below existing ground level. In the second opening – south-west corner – the excavation extended to almost 3m in depth. In common with location No.1 this was sited inside the line of the town wall. The main feature here was the presence of a garden-like soil. This garden soil occurred at a depth of 0.75m and contained frequent small stones, occasional fragmented oyster shells, fragmented animal bone and a sherd of blackware.  A homogenous deep deposit, it extended to a depth of 2m below existing ground level. The natural depositions – sands and sandy gravels – occurred at the 2m level.

Both the third and fourth pile locations openings were sited c. 6m outside the line of the town wall. The third location extended to a depth of 1.3m. Dominated by overburden and mixed infill to a depth of 0.8m, a very dark greyish silty clay occurred in the eastern part of the opening at a depth of 0.8m. Nothing was retrieved to date this deposition. Traces of it were also found in the fourth opening.  In both openings it overlaid the natural deposition. It had a maximum thickness of 0.45m in opening No. 3 and between 0.15m and 0.2m in location No. 4. Piling location No. 4 was partly disturbed by the presence of defunct services and a manhole.

A service line was excavated exiting the site to a manhole on Morton Street. The new trench, 3m long, followed the line of the old services and was highly disturbed, revealing nothing of archaeological interest.

In the course of the works it was possible to get more information regarding the town wall. Aligned east-west, two courses were exposed during testing works. This wall supported a modern wall foundation, 0.6m wide and which was built off it centrally. This foundation wall, which was cut through in two places for the concrete beam, corresponded to an earlier structure (extension/return) as denoted on a drawing compiled in 1932.  Roughly coursed, the town wall was built of medium and occasional larger pieces of sandstone, ranging in size from 0.07m x 0.18m, 0.1m x 0.1m, 0.1m x 0.25m to 0.18m x 0.26m. The largest stone, in the bottom of the two courses exposed, had a length of 0.57m. The wall was bonded with a softish, brittle light brown grey mortar. A 2.5m length was exposed, with a height ranging from 0.32m to 0.37m and a total a width of 0.89m. This wall is on the line portrayed by Goubet in his late 17th-century map of the town and very close to the line of the town wall projected by the Archaeological Urban Survey, which extended east-west, just back from the south side of Morton Street. Interestingly, previous works on other sites along the south side of Morton Street and the projected line of the town wall, did not reveal the wall.

Mary Henry Archaeological Services Ltd, 17 Staunton Row, Clonmel, Co. Tipperary