2019:745 - 134-143 Francis Street, Dublin, Dublin

NMI Burial Excavation Records

County: Dublin Site name: 134-143 Francis Street, Dublin

Sites and Monuments Record No.: N/A Licence number: 19E0226

Author: David McIlreavy

Site type: Urban


ITM: E 714785m, N 733850m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 53.342413, -6.276243

Archaeological monitoring of construction, and targeted archaeological excavation, took place at 134–143 Francis Street, Dublin 8.

Excavation in the north-east of the site in Area 1 (Lift Shaft Trench), revealed a small post-medieval building and incorporated well. Underlying the former floor level of this building were two large cess pits, of probable 13th-century date, and three pits of indeterminate function, all truncating a partially-preserved late medieval relict soil that containing unglazed, locally produced ceramic. The later cess pit was reinforced by the insertion of salvaged timber elements.

Area 2, to the far south-west, revealed a truncated sub-circular pit and a ditch feature, both of which are considered to be medieval in date.

Area 3, roughly central to the site, comprised a heavily truncated clay-bonded wall feature and two sub-circular features sealing a relict late medieval soil, containing a variety of glazed and unglazed ceramics.

Finally, in the southern part of the site, excavation revealed that significant disturbance had already been caused to the archaeological resource by the foundations of the Tivoli Theatre building. Area 4, contained a post-medieval stone-lined well and a range of pits, post-holes and a linear feature of probable medieval date.

The earliest features consisted of three intercutting pits of 13th-century date, however the majority of features identified across site may be dated from the later 17th to 20th centuries. These latter features consisted of truncated elements of piped water supplies, probable tannery pits, wells, property divisions, building footprints and a clay pipe kiln.

The identification of probable 13th-century cess and other pits across the site further contributes to our knowledge of the development of the medieval Dublin extra-mural settlement within the Liberties area. Perhaps most interestingly the inclusion of goat skull elements within the backfill of one pit may be indicative of goatskin leather production in the immediate area.

The association of the site with textile processing would seem to continue into the later 17th century, when a number of unlined shallow pits would seem to be excavated as part of tannery and textile-dyeing activities. A series of intercutting pits towards the northern façade of the development site produced a gold alloy lace chape.

The identification of one isolated, but truncated barrel feature during the archaeological monitoring across site may indicate that further tannery activities such as de-hairing were taking place on site. Excavation also highlighted the probable modification of bored wooden pipe water systems, originally laid down in the late 17th century, with the partial redirection of flow through smaller box-sectioned feed channels.

The penultimate phase of activity identified across the development area consisted of two property divisions running north-south from Thomas Street. One of these property plots would seem to have included a clay pipe kiln. This feature revealed three phases of use, with the final two phases consisting of stone and red brick ash pits and rake-out pits. Elements of kiln saggar furniture, and pieces of the saggar vessels themselves, are considered important contributions to our knowledge of the clay pipe manufacturing process. However, the waster elements recovered from the kilns also provide important information relating to the fail rates of material during kiln use.

Post-excavation analysis for the site is now underway, and the processing of the finds and samples will provide more refined dates and interpretations for the site.

c/o IAC Ltd, Unit G1 Network Enterprise Park, Kilcoole, Co. Wicklow