Main Street and William Street, Cashel
Street renewal works along Main Street and William Street, Cashel, were monitored. Both streets are within the medieval walled town. The renewal works entailed laying ducting and renewal of footpaths and street surfaces.
The northern portion of William Street revealed no activity prior to the post-medieval period. This was also the case with works undertaken on the southern part of this street, where pottery of post-medieval provenance was revealed. A high proportion of animal bone was discovered within the southern openings but should not be perceived as unusual, due to the fact a slaughterhouse flanked this part of the street up until at least the first quarter of the 20th century. At the eastern end of this part of the scheme a trench was cut across John Street revealing purely modern debris. This suggests that either the trenches were kept above the level of archaeology or medieval deposits were destroyed during previous road works. Due to the depths reached, it is considered the latter theory is probably correct.
Regarding Main Street, substantial areas consisted of recent infill, which was the result of modern disturbance, confirmed by the presence of purely 20th-century pottery, whereas other areas, particularly the middle of the street, had been heavily disturbed by the main drainage works. It was considered the trenching was not deep enough to reveal any early deposits either side of this cut.
A sealed layer of potential medieval provenance was discovered in front of Feehanís public house, which is situated on the north side of Main Street. It comprised a black, silty, slightly sandy clay and was located immediately beneath a post-medieval deposit. Manual investigation revealed a sherd of medieval pottery, as well as some butchered, boiled animal bone. It was then decided, due to the high archaeological potential of this deposit, that all further trenching to the west was to be kept above it.
The works for the renewal of paving were quite shallow, with excavations revealing modern activity, present in the form of infill, plastic ducting and pipes, and it was considered excavations were not nearly deep enough to encounter post-medieval, let alone medieval, deposits. Located to the west of the Heritage Hall, at a depth of 0.2m below the present ground surface, a well was discovered. This well was in use at least until the early years of the 20th century. The remains of a standpipe were still present, which may have been in place since the early 19th century.
Although this scheme was implemented within the medieval environs of Cashel, very little evidence pertaining to this period was revealed. Probably the most noticeable fact associated with this scheme was the vast amount of modern disturbance that has occurred within this town, especially by the main drainage scheme on both Main Street and William Street. This was further endorsed with the varying types of road surfaces encountered, implying concerted repairs, as well as a vast array of service pipes and trenches laid over the last few decades. This seems to have resulted in the removal of substantial earlier deposits.
A single deposit of possible archaeological provenance discovered to the south of Feehanís public house may be of medieval origin, otherwise nothing relating to this period was uncovered. The central location of the well within the town would have made it an important social feature within a day-to-day context of urban living. It is therefore possible the well may have its origins within the medieval period, if not earlier, although at present this theory is not proven.
Mary Henry, Mary Henry Archaeological Services Ltd, 17 Staunton Row, Clonmel, Co. Tipperary.
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