Scoil Mocheallóg, Kilmallock
Urban, medieval defences
Testing was undertaken as part of a pre-planning assessment in advance of an extension to the primary school. This site is within the zone of archaeological potential for the historic town of Kilmallock and immediately to the west of the town wall and to the south of the existing primary school. Eight trenches were dug, which used a trench layout provided by the executive archaeologist with Limerick County Council. The trenches were 1.2m in width, between 10–50m in length and were on average 0.5m in depth. A feature known as the ‘bastion mound’, thought to be an outer earthen town defence, the exterior of the town wall and the footprint of the proposed school were tested.
Trench 1 tested the southern side of the bastion mound. A spread 2m by 1.2m of occupational material including oyster shell and animal bone was revealed. Trench 2 investigated an area immediately to the west of the town wall and revealed three parallel ditches outside the wall, interpreted as external defensive fosses. The innermost fosse, visible prior to testing, was 6m in maximum width and 1.75m in depth. The middle fosse was 3.25m in width. The outer fosse was 2.25m in width. Their depths were not realised, as the archaeological fills were left in situ. Based on the widths it is suggested that the depth would not exceed 1.2m. There was almost 2m between the fosses and the innermost fosse abutted the town wall and was without a berm on visual inspection. It could not be established from the test if these fosses were contemporary.
Trench 3 (subdivided into a–f) revealed 21 discrete features including linear furrows, small spreads and pits. Many contained very small quantities of burnt animal bone and some shell.
Finds, all from the topsoil, included shell, animal bone, iron nail, modern pottery and one sherd of medieval local ware pottery. While it is unlikely that all these features exposed relate to the historic occupation of Kilmallock, it is likely that some do date to this period. In light of the results of the testing, it was advised by the local authority that an alternative school building proposal be submitted.
Tracy Collins, Aegis Archaeology Ltd, 32 Nicholas Street, King’s Island, Limerick.
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