Friday 9 December 2016

The good and the bad we unearthed from Wood Quay

The excavations taught us much about old Dublin, writes Patrick F Wallace, but they also resulted in a culture where the authorities deemed archaeological digs a waste of time

Patrick F Wallace

Published 13/12/2015 | 02:30

HISTORY: Pat Wallace (left) with the late Martin Connolly, at the Wood Quay excavation site in the 1970s
HISTORY: Pat Wallace (left) with the late Martin Connolly, at the Wood Quay excavation site in the 1970s

My life changed forever on an April day in 1974, 41 years ago. Dr Joe Raftery moved his folded umbrella from right to left as we stood overlooking the four-acre Wood Quay site and declared: "This is all yours, Pat."

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My first impression of the Wood Quay site was of its blackness. Save for the stone wall that bisected the site, the ground was black, with the consistency of drying out sludge.

A wide, L-shaped ledge of made ground which lay along the south east end in the direction of Fishamble Street and John's Lane was what survived of an extensive build-up of early medieval detritus which had been mechanically lowered to the height of the stone wall.

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