Medieval burials and well
Monitoring and excavation of an area in Blackfriary townland took place during resurfacing of the lane at the rear of the local authority housing which fronts on to Kells Road and Haggard Street/Athboy Gate in Trim. These works required insertion of a drainage gully with a single soak hole at the southern end of the lane, along with lighting poles and a boundary fence on the eastern side of the lane demarcating it from the land containing the remains of the Blackfriary, which is in the ownership of the Office of Public Works. In the southern corner of the lane close to the proposed position of the soak hole human remains were uncovered. Following discussion with the National Monuments Service and Trim Town Council it was decided to excavate human remains where they had been exposed or were under threat from machinery.
Excavations revealed part of a large oval earth-cut well, 1.42m in width by 2.2m in depth, filled with silty sand overlain by a capping of clay containing much stone and slate. Medieval pottery comprising Dublin ware and Trim-type ware was found throughout, suggesting a 13th- and 14th-century date (identification by Clare McCutcheon). The faunal assemblage included cattle, sheep and pig, including piglet (identification by Fiona Beglane). Fish and bird included ling and small salmon or trout. The charred plant remains from within suggested cereal cultivation of oat barley and wheat along with weeds of cultivation. The charcoal identified from the well consisted of fragments of alder/hazel, wild cherry, sessile/pedunculate oak, willow and holly (identification by Sarah Cobain). Small fragments of human bone were found within the base of the well, suggesting human burial in the vicinity. A burial was cut into this well and was aligned south-west/north-east. The burial had slumped into the well, probably as organic remains within the well had decayed. This individual was a young robust adult male who had suffered blunt force trauma and a penetrating wound to the cranium (analysis by Ciara Travers). A sample of human bone was dated to 1390–1630 (95.4%), although it was 87.3% likely to belong to the period 1390–1530 (Wk24840).
Three further truncated articulated burials were found along the edge of the laneway. Only one was relatively intact, an early to middle-aged adult male, and it again exhibited a significant number of injuries to ribs and humerus. A post-medieval boundary ditch cut through this area and contained a considerable quantity of disarticulated human bone. The minimum number of burials represented was eleven. A gully and a series of post-medieval post-holes were also excavated to the north of the well. Excavations are likely to have uncovered the edge of the medieval cemetery associated with the Blackfriary which had extended over earlier settlement features such as the well. The Blackfriary was dissolved in 1540 and little is known about the physical layout of the site.
Matthew Seaver, for CRDS Ltd, Unit 14a, Dundrum Business Park, Dublin 14.
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