36–39 Nicholas Street/Peter Street, Limerick
Testing was undertaken as part of a site assessment at the pre-planning stage of development. The site is within the zone of archaeological potential for the historic town of Limerick, specifically within Englishtown. Previous investigations by Celie O Rahilly had revealed that the site had two extant later medieval walls, one which included a later medieval fireplace on an upper floor in its northern face (the site is locally known as the ‘fireplace site’) and an undercroft in the northern portion of the site (Excavations 1994, No. 163; Excavations 1995, No. 184, 97E0071). This feature was further investigated by Tony Cummins (Excavations 2000, No. 595, 00E0597). The purpose of this testing was to ascertain the precise nature and extent of archaeological deposits on site and how they might be impacted on by subsequent development.
Five trenches were dug by machine on the site, the locations of which were constrained by the extant medieval walls and steel buttresses which were supporting them. The trenches ranged from 1.2m to 1.6m in width, 2.2m to 10m in length and had a maximum depth of 4.06m. The testing revealed a subsurface portion of the extant later medieval wall in the centre of the site, and further walls with red-brick arches, which were interpreted as being an underground passage to the original cellars on the site that were revealed to the south of the medieval wall. These walls were similar to those found at a nearby site (Collins 2004). Rubble fill was encountered in most trenches, which lay on the natural boulder clay. In the south-eastern corner of the site a thin dark humic layer was encountered, although this could not be positively dated due to the lack of artefacts.
From the results of the assessment, a building piling plan has been formulated to avoid the subsurface walls and humic layer, and a plan to present the extant medieval walls, undercroft and fireplace as part of the new development has been presented to the local authority.
Collins, T. 2004 Stone undercrofts at Mary Street, Limerick. North Munster Antiquarian Journal 44, 67–74.
Tracy Collins, Aegis Archaeology Ltd, 32 Nicholas Street, King’s Island, Limerick.
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