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Carlow Main Drainage Scheme, Carlow Town, 2010-2012



Carlow 1The Carlow Main Drainage Scheme is situated in Carlow town and extends throughout the town (CW007-018) and suburbs of the town, which is on the east side of the River Barrow and is prone to flooding. Licence to monitor the works (10E0175) was granted in May 2010.

During July 2010, as the contractors prepared to extend their pipeline through Kennedy Street, an update of the present licence was applied for to excavate remains expected to be found in this area. An 18th century cobbled surface was found in several places in Kennedy Street during works here (Plate 1).

Plate 1: Cobbling of probable 18th century date found along Kennedy Street, facing west.




Carlow 2On the west end of Kennedy Street, towards Castle Hill street towards the castle, human burials were found (Plate 2). These burials probably relate to an early medieval ecclesiastical site, probably pre-dating St. Mary’s Church, a later medieval foundation on the north side Kennedy Street. A monastery is claimed to have been founded by St. Comgall in Carlow in the 6th century and this may well be the site of the monastery which predated the Anglo-Norman motte and subsequent castle.

This earlier burial ground is called the ‘Castle Hill graveyard’ and a little to the north of Carlow Castle. Very little of this is left, but a small hillock is present. In his work on the the site (limited publication, probably 1959), Henry Fennell of Everton, Carlow, a local historian, identified this graveyard as Crocan na Relige, as it was locally called, and states that this is the earliest burial site (of which there was originally more to the west). Much of this site was removed during the 18th century for housing. It seems very likely that this site opposite the castle may be the earliest site in Carlow and may indeed be the site of the 6th or 7th century monastery or abbey (pers comm. Dermot Mulligan, Carlow County Museum). Only three burials were identified in situ.during the excavation by the writer in July. They were partial and one was represented only by a humurus in situ. The burials were typically extended east-west with the heads to the west and were only some 30cm below ground level. A human remains report is in progress.

Plate 2: Burial in situate on the south side of Kennedy Street, just east of juncture with Mill Lane.




Carlow 3To the south of the burials, other trenches were opened at the juncture between Mill Lane and Kennedy Street. Here the stratigraphy was completely disturbed by pipes and drains but enough human bone was recovered to suggest that the burial site had extended into this area, just north of the Burrin River before it was infilled in the 18th century. Medieval and post medieval pottery sherds were also recovered from the trenches.

During September, 2010, the focus of activity in Carlow main Drainage Scheme was located at Ballinacarrig Bridge and in Chaplestown townland. The pipeline was to extend along the Burrin river in this townland only a short distance in some cases from a sting of cropmarks which have been identified close to the river in this townland. These cropmarks are Recorded Monuments, probably prehistoric burial enclosures. Field 1 (just east of Ballinacarrig Bridge in Chaplestown townland) contains below ground remains of double-barrow site CW007-065 – the most unusual of the sites. It stands out in the image as an elliptical enclosure, up to 70m across (Plate 3). Field 2 contains subsurface remains of large enclosure CW007-066 and small enclosure CW007-067. The cropmarks were photographed in fields in Chapelstown in 1989 (many thanks to Gillian Barrett for allowing us to reproduce this).

Prior to any works taking place here, this company carried out continuous trenching along the line of the Burrin river in 2010 (Ken Wiggins for Judith Carroll & Company-licence as above). No finds or features came to light during the trenching.

Cropmarks in Chaplestown detected from the air (facing north). This image is part of an archive of c. 8000 aerial photographs taken by Dr. Gillian Barrett between 1989 and 2000 as part of a research project exploring the potential of air survey as a technique of archaeological discovery. A review of the project was published in Barrett , G.F. '(2002) Flights of discovery: archaeological air survey in Ireland, 1989-2000' in The Journal of Irish Archaeology, XI, 2002. 1-30. This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . It is reproduced here with permission of Gillian Barrett.



Judith Carroll & Co Ltd
Archaeological Consultants
Ballybrack Road 
Dublin 18 

Tel: 01 6705067
Mobile: 087-9968819/ 087-3810933
Email: info@judithcarrollandco.ie
Website: www.judithcarrollandco.ie

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