Urban medieval
315680 234165
The site forms the south-east corner of the block defined by Cecilia Street, Temple Lane, Temple Bar and Fownes Street Upper. The western boundary of the site is represented by Temple Lane (previously called Hogges Lane), one of the earliest lanes in Dublin and probably of Viking origin. This block (0.33ha in area) is known to be the core of the 13th-century Augustinian Friary of the Holy Trinity and is included in the Register of Historic Monuments under the terms of the National Monuments (Amendment) Act (1987). While no in situ or standing remains of the friary exist, some of the walls at the rear of Nos 1 and 2 Cecilia Street may be partly derived from original friary buildings. Remains of the eastern line of the friary were uncovered by L. Simpson along Fownes Street Upper (Excavations 1996, 20-1, 96E003) and the friary cemetery was located to the south in excavations by M. Reid (Excavations 1993, 29, 93E0139).

During monitoring of pre-construction works at the site of the Temple Bar pub, a north-west section of the friary precinct wall was revealed at the interface between the pub site and the Temple Lane/Cecilia Street site.

Excavation, test-trenching and monitoring were undertaken at the site between 20 January and 10 February 1997. A previous assessment had been carried out by Margaret Gowen within 17-19 Temple Lane (Excavations 1996, 31, 95E068ext.).

Maps of Dublin from 1610 (John Speed) and 1673 (Bernard de Gomme) do not depict buildings in the area of the friary. Speed's map does, however, carry the annotation '11' close to the site of the friary, which is referred to as 'S. Auguftines'. De Gomme depicts an area enclosed by Temple Bar (north), Dirty Lane (west) and Dame Street (south) as plots of land with no buildings of apparent significance. Mapping from 1728 (Charles Brooking) shows the same area with the addition of Crowe Alley (east) forming a block containing what appear to be the extant remains of the friary precinct. By Rocque's time (1756) the block had become divided by Crow Street (modern Cecilia Street) and residential properties are shown to occupy the site of the friary.

The excavation area (6.2m north-south by 2.1-3.1m east-west), within the north-east corner of 17 Temple Lane, revealed the remains of the north-west corner of the friary precinct wall, the north-west corner of a building possibly of late medieval date, and a number of post-medieval walls, covered drains, brick floors and occupation-derived soil and clay deposits. To the west and south of this area, within the footprint of the building at 1 Cecilia Street, test-trenches, monitoring of site clearance works and piling revealed post-medieval walls and deposits.

The north-facing section of the friary precinct wall was founded on natural orange boulder clay and survived to 3m in length (west-east) and 1.68m in height. The east end of the wall had been disturbed by post-medieval building and drainage activities, including a north-south-aligned wooden lattice (1.86m OD) within the Temple Bar pub site. At its western end the wall returned south for a distance of 2.9m, with a maximum height of 1.16m (2.38m OD) at its northern end and 0.4m (2.21m OD) at its southern end, and measured at least 1m wide. It was constructed of limestone blocks, averaging 0.3m by 0.15m, bonded with a grey/yellow, gritted mortar, built of uneven courses and fair face, with the north-west quoins stressed. The western end of the wall was found to be undamaged and suggested a southward return. Two phases were identified within the wall build: (i) a medieval foundation/base batter which remained largely undisturbed and was set directly onto subsoil, and (ii) a post-medieval upper build containing several late stone-lined or culvert drains.

At the southern end of the wall several of the foundation stones were angled outwards (west), forming what is possibly a westward continuation towards Temple Lane. Two test-trenches positioned across the projected line of the western leg of the wall revealed nothing to suggest that any structural remains survived. This may be due in part to later robbing or demolition of the wall in this area.

The excavation did not reveal evidence of a foundation trench for the wall (found at 5-6 Cecilia Street); however, the internal line of the wall was not exposed as the extant remains uncovered were to be preserved in situ. The wall was bounded on the west by a late rubble-filled trench and on the north by 17th-century reclamation deposits. Immediately south of the wall lay a series of dump deposits forming what appears to be a ramp against the southern end of the wall, possibly to retain and strengthen the wall at this point. A single sherd of Dublin glazed ware was recovered from this level.

Features uncovered within the area enclosed by the precinct wall included a brick floor of fairly irregular and uneven half-bat red bricks. The floor was held in place with a soft but compact black soil and was overlain by a deposit of cinder and charcoal. The floor had been cut by several late wall foundations at its southern limit.

A further stretch of limestone walling was uncovered directly south of the precinct wall. It also survived as a north-west corner, standing c. 1.75m high and 0.4m wide (level 3.54m OD at top), constructed of limestone blocks, dressed boulders and smaller stones, built in squared fashion to courses with fair face and north-west quoins unstressed (some later repointing using red brick evident). The eastern return of this wall could be traced, and measured 1.68m high, though only the upper 0.9m was visible (lower portion obscured by a later red brick frontage). The wall was bonded with yellow or cream-coloured mortar and soft/wet dark brown soil. The foundation of the corner of the wall is stepped in profile, possibly either representing an offset base/plinth or suggesting that the wall continued northward, perhaps as far as, if not abutting, the precinct wall. The deciding evidence for this latter assumption has been lost by the insertion of a number of stone-lined drains. The wall is similar in build and appearance to the precinct wall; however, it partly overlies deposits of later medieval character and therefore possibly represents the remains of one of the mansions built around 1600 in this area (Excavations 1996, 21).

Subsequent layers on the site appear to have been laid specifically to build up and level the area immediately south of the precinct wall, followed by a series of later wall foundations and rubble infill deposits. Of the test-trenches, nos 3-5 revealed wall foundations and partition walls of the former building at 1 Cecilia Street (a Dutch-style building of which the facade has been retained), as well as post-medieval soil dumps containing animal bone, ceramics and oyster shells. Cellars within 1 Cecilia Street most certainly removed any trace of medieval deposits associated with the friary complex.

The investigation has shown that the site has been built on considerably from the post-medieval period, resulting in damage to and rebuilding of the precinct wall. Medieval deposits uncovered were found to be limited in extent and provided little information to further understand the date and use of this corner of the friary.
Malachy Conway, Margaret Gowen & Co. Ltd, Rath House, Ferndale Road, Rathmichael, Co. Dublin.

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