Saturday 21 April 2018

New building uncovered at the castle

New high status building found in 'Swords Castle - Digging history' project

Volunteers take part in the month-long community dig at Swords Castle
Volunteers take part in the month-long community dig at Swords Castle

John Manning

A month-long community archaeology project comes to an end this Friday at Swords Castle and has uncovered more information about the castle than the team behind the project could ever have hoped for including an entire new building buried beneath the ground that dates back more than 600 years.

There was huge excitement at the Swords Castle - Digging History project last week as the team of volunteers under the stewardship of community archaeologist with Fingal County Council, Christine Baker, uncovered a medieval floor tile in its original position that has been dated between the years of 1350 and 1550.

The tile was on the floor of a new building uncovered in the dig, where geophysical date has suggesting a the walls of a building were beneath the castle grounds, were confirmed.

The new building has been uncovered near the north wall of the castle complex and while archaeologists have no idea at this early stage, what the building was used for, the presence of this ornate floor tile and evidence of highly decorative window traces, suggest it was a high status building.

According to community archaeologist, Christine Baker, there is also some evidence at this early stage of the investigation that the building was burnt down at some point in its history, causing the roof to collapse.

The floor tile itself is thought to have been imported to the site from Chester and matches tiles found in high status buildings in Dublin like Christchurch and St Patrick's Cathedral.

To find the tile would have been exciting enough but to find it 'in situ' in its original position on the floor of the building is a rare and thrilling discovery for the archaeological team.

It was an exciting find for the team, among many others and Christine is in no doubt that the month long dig will prove to be an important stepping stone in increasing our knowledge of Swords Castle.

'In terms of increasing our knowledge of the castle, the dig has been very worthwhile. It has answered a lot of the questions we had the community have really responded well to the project,' Christine told the Fingal Independent.

As the dig enters its last week, it is at capacity in terms of the number of volunteers showing up at the site to get involved in the project.

The Digging History project continues to reawaken the local connection with the castle as it reopens to the public, having been shut to the outside world for too long.

Now it is beginning to give up more of its secrets and it will continue to do so as the finds collected over the last few weeks are catalogued and analysed. A series of lectures and exhibitions about the castle will continue over the next year and next summer, another community dig is planned.

Fingal Independent