North Quay, New Ross
Urban medieval
SMR 29:13
Advance testing of a warehouse conversion situated on the North Quay, New Ross, was carried out. The site is contiguous with the line of the riverward run of the town wall of New Ross. Two warehouse buildings were to be converted to accommodate fifteen apartments and five townhouses. The conversion was to be an internal fit-out, with all new works supported by the existing walls of the structures. Testing was confined to the proposed line of the service trenches and an eastward extension to the street-front warehouse (Building 1) to accommodate a stairwell, a lift shaft and create extra apartment space.

Four trenches were mechanically excavated. Trenches 1 and 2 investigated the proposed line of the service trenches, while Trenches 3 and 4 examined the new build to Building 1.

Trench 1 uncovered the subsurface remains of a mortar-bonded stone wall, 0.8m wide, that appears from cartographic evidence to be part of the structures associated with the former corn-storage activities on-site. A mixed fill of silty clays and clay abutted the wall and appears to have been make-up layers for the present ground level. Excavation of this trench ceased at a depth of 1m below present ground level, well below the depth of the service trenches. No features or finds of archaeological significance were uncovered.

Trench 2 contained a similar profile of modern make-up layers to Trench 1, all of which were on top of a distinct layer of redeposited orange/brown shaly clay natural. The redeposited natural sealed a dark-brown silty clay beneath, which started 1m deep, 1.645m OD. A brief examination of this sealed layer produced fifteen sherds of medieval pottery, including Saintonge, Redcliffe and possible Waterford-type pottery, suggesting a mid- to late 13th-century date for the assemblage. It was interpreted that the upper layers in this trench represent reclamation layers and it is possible that the medieval layer was similar. Excavation of this trench ceased when the medieval layer was revealed.

Trench 3 was positioned to investigate the potential impact of the lift shaft and stairwell. Once the modern and 18th/19th-century overburden was removed, a probable 17th-century stone-lined drain was uncovered running throughout the long axis of the trench. The drain (0.8m deep, 1.481m OD) appeared to cut an earlier greyish-brown silty clay, from which a single sherd of medieval pottery was recovered. Excavation ceased once the drain was revealed.

Trench 4 was excavated parallel to Trench 3 and, again, when the overburden was removed the greyish-brown silty clay was present at a depth of 1.1m, 1.074m OD. Its findings corresponded with those of Trench 3. Excavation ceased at this stage.

It was possible to raise the formation levels of the proposed works and preserve the archaeological material in situ. Monitoring of the groundworks was recommended.
Daniel Noonan, The Archaeology Company, Birr Technology Centre, Mill Island, Birr, Co. Offaly.

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