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Kilkenny
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Patrick St./Pudding Lane/Pennyfeather Lane, Kilkenny City

 

 

Kilkenny 1 Two large scale excavations (Licence nos. 97E0468 and 98E0092) took place in the heart of Kilkenny City in 1998. Before it was excavated, the site comprised two carparks, including a large public carpark, three single buildings and six extensive areas of garden behind the Georgian houses on Patrick Street. The combined area stretched from no. 26, Patrick St. and along Pudding Lane on its east side. It reached to the city walls at Myles Tower on its west side and, on its north side, to Pennyfeather Lane.

The site was excavated prior to the development of a multi-storey public carpark, hotel, leisure centre and retail buildings, by Southford Properties Ltd and by office/retail and apartment buildings by Jeto Properties. Testing took place in December 1997 while full resolution of both sites took place took place between March and November 1998.

The excavations revealed a large number of pits and other features over the entire area of the development. Half way across the site, or half way between the city walls and Patrick Street, running north-south, was a trench with layers yielding medieval pottery mainly of 13th/14th century date. This trench formed a division between an area of concentrated features, mainly pits, and an area of sparsely distributed features. This trench may have been a boundary fence dividing an area of habitation from an agricultural or grazing area, or common area covered with vegetation. Seven human skeletons were found on the north side of the site, both in Area 1 and Area 3. The excavation brought to light a very large amount of medieval pottery (analysed by Clare McCutcheon) as well as post-medieval pottery (Roseanne Meenan). The large amount of stratified faunal remains was analysed by Eileen Murphy.


 

The site is situated in the very heart of the medieval city of Kilkenny, in the area of High Town, the earliest part of the Anglo-Norman settlement of the city which dates from perhaps as early as 1170 (Bradley 2000). On its west side, the site is bounded by the city walls, which were built, between 1250 and 1350 AD (Bradley 1975-6, 86). On its east side is Patrick Street and Pudding lane which extends to the north of Patrick Street. Patrick Street is presently lined by Georgian and later houses, but was once probably the most prosperous area of the city. Petty's map (Pettys map circa 1655) shows that from the 'St. Patrick's Gate' entrance to the walled town (St. Patrick Gate was about half way up present day Patrick Street) to the juncture of roads at the north end of Patrick Street, there were substantial houses with long back gardens extending towards, but not reaching, the city walls. These properties were on the area excavated. On Petty's map, the gardens of these properties seem to extend between half and two thirds of the distance east-west between Patrick Street and the city walls.

Kilkenny City grew from its early medieval foundations west of the river Nore. The earliest settlement, the Martartech, or settled area, of Mag Roigne is likely to have been established in the 5th century (Bradley 2000). The earliest Christian foundation was dedicated to St. Patrick, and the remains of this foundation are represented by th medieval graveyard at the south end of Patrick Street. The name Cill Chainnigh derives from the early medieval foundation of Canices Church, attributed to St. Canice or one of his disciples. This early medieval ecclesiastical establishment is positioned at the north end of the city.


 

 

 

Kilkenny 2Before Kilkenny was settled by the Anglo-Normans, the MacGilla Patriac kings of Ossory had a residence at Kilkenny at which they held court and in which a deputy acted during their absence, while excavations at Kilkenny castle have revealed evidence for occupation predating the first Anglo-Norman structure there. Extensive pre-Norman activity may have therefore taken place in the general area of the excavations.

The Anglo-Normans established High-town at a very early stage of their Irish incursions. High Town, comprised present High Street, Parliament Street, The Parade and the Castle, Pudding Lane, Pennyfeather Lane and the north part of Patrick Street. Excavation no. no. 97E0468 is within the line marked as High Town by Bradley, while 98E092 is directly to the south of the line. Both sites are within the walled area of the city bounded on the south side by the city wall extending from Talbot's tower to the castle. There are several historical references to the city walls, particularly to the murage grants of Kilkenny which indicate that the walls were built between 1250 and 1440 (Bradley 1975-6, 89). There was further work on the walls around 1642, at the beginning of the strife of the 1640s, when Dutch engineers were employed (Bradley 1975-6, 89).

A sallyport and a stretch of wall remain today on the west boundary of the area of excavations 97E468 and 92E092. The original position of Myles Tower, one of the mural towers figured on Rocque's 1758 map of Kilkenny, was probably on the west side of the wall, just north of the sallyport.

References

Bradley, J. 1975. The Town Wall of Kilkenny-Part 1. Old Kilkenny Review 1, no. 2, 85-103.
Bradley, J. 1976. The Town Wall of Kilkenny - Part 2. Old Kilkenny Review 3, 209- 218.
Bradley, J. 2000. Kilkenny. Irish Historic Towns Atlas 10. Royal Irish Academy. Dublin.

 

 

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Judith Carroll & Co Ltd
Archaeological Consultants
Ballybrack Road 
Glencullen
Dublin 18 

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