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St Patrick's Grammar School, St Patrick's Close, Kevin Street Upper, Dublin 8

Excavation Licence no. 12E0040, 2012




Archaeological test trenching was carried out on the site of the proposed additional building to the existing St. Patrick’s Grammar School, St. Patrick’s Close/Kevin Street Upper, Dublin 8. Judith Carroll and Company was contracted by the Grammar School to test trench the area of the development in compliance with Condition no. 4 of the grant of permission (P2097) from Dublin City Council which requires archaeological testing and the preparation of an Archaeological Impact Assessment.

The new school building proposed for the site is to be built in an empty space amid existing school buildings in the area between St. Patrick’s Close and Kevin Street Upper, in the south-west quadrant of the site. The area is one of high archaeological potential, being very close to St. Patrick’s Cathedral and within its precincts.

Test trenching on the site took place on Saturday, 02 March 2012. The work was carried out under Licence 12E0040 by Judith Carroll. The site was concreted in many areas and this was broken by rock-breaker, after which a tracked digger using a narrow flat bucket was employed for the test excavation. Three test trenches were cut.

The development site as part of the precincts of the cathedral is shown in Speeds map of 1610. It is just to the south of the cathedral and is outlined by St. Patrick’s Close and Kevin Street Upper. The curved line of St Patrick’s Close seems apparent here, and the same short road later marked on maps as ‘Mitre Alley’ intersects present day St. Patrick’s Close with Kevin Street Upper, as it does up to the 19th century. The development site is directly west of Mitre Alley which is marked on Rocque’s map of 1756 and the 1842 1st edition OS map. On both Speed’s and Dinley’s maps, the Poddle and other watercourses are very apparent as they stream around the area of the site.

Bernard De Gomme’s map of 1673 (above) would seem to suggest that the south-west area of the development site, if not the whole area of the proposed development, was completely engulfed by the river confluence at this date.

Map above: Bernard De Gomme's map of Dublin 1673 showing the area of the site of the development (marked with a red arrow).

Click to view or download: Archaeological Impact Assessment Report, March 2012.






Similarly, it would seem from Brooking’s map that this south-west area of the site was not developed but is marked ‘Poddle’ in 1728. By 1756, the site as we know it today was developed with housing as is shown on Rocque’s map and this continued into the 19th and 20th centuries as is clear from the Ordnance Survey maps.

From maps dating as late as the early 18th century it seems that much of the south and west part of the development site, if not all the site, was actually engulfed by the Poddle and its confluence with the Commons Water and was only culverted in the 18th century. The site as we know it today may have been subject at least to flooding until it was culverted.

There was a very unevenly spread concrete layer over much of the site requiring the employment of a rock-breaker. Three test trenches were cut revealing unexpected depth. It was found in all three trenches that the natural level was 2.8m - 2.9m. In Trench 1 and 2, the trenches became flooded at the base soon after opening.

Map: Speed's map of 1610, showing development site as part of the precincts of the cathedral.






Trial testing on the site found that the stratigraphy was much deeper than had been expected and revealed evidence of infilling of a waterlogged area. Evidence of possible refuse or tanning pits was found at the base of one of the trenches. Map research would corroborate the findings of the test trenching, strongly suggesting that this area was encroached by the Poddle River or subject to flooding. Thus this particular area of the site, or most of it, does not appear to have been built on till it was reclaimed in the early/mid 18th century. Apart from some post-medieval pottery, there were no finds. Previous archaeological testing and excavation in the area has revealed evidence of pits, including rubbish pits and tanning pits and it is possible that these may be found cut into the subsoil.

The school building will be supported by ground beams and piles. The ground beams will be situated about 1.8m above natural and cut features, while the drain should similarly be 1.3m above natural. Archaeological impact is restricted to a number of pits 0.625m x 0.65m and to the lift shaft which is approximately 2m x 2m. Archaeological monitoring of the development and resolution of any features found was recommended.

Map: Rocque's map of 1756.



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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