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Swords skeleton retrieved for investigation

Work beginning to analyse remains found earlier this year by local family

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The site where the skeletal remains were found

The site where the skeletal remains were found

Fingal County Council secured the site for excavation

Fingal County Council secured the site for excavation

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The site where the skeletal remains were found

Ancient skeletal remains found in River Valley Park, Swords earlier this year have now been retrieved and are undergoing specialist analysis, Fingal County Council has confirmed.

In April 2020 locals out walking in River Valley Park, Swords spotted exposed human skeletal remains on the southern bank of the Ward River.

The find was reported to GardaĆ­ and the National Museum of Ireland inspected the site, confirming the remains as archaeological.

Due to the COVID-19 directives the site could not be excavated at the time but following the lifting of these restrictions, work has been able to progress.

The site where the remains were found is a recorded archaeological monument where archaeologists from the National Monuments Service excavated six skeletons in 1999.

These were medieval in date and as the burials were deposited in an irregular fashion within a flood plain it was thought they may reflect some form of communal hasty burial of victims of plague or other trauma.

Following the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions a geophysical survey was undertaken to try and identify limits of the site followed by excavation to retrieve the exposed skeletal remains.

Excavation was undertaken in June 2020 at the site by Maeve McCormick of Archer Heritage Planning Ltd under licence from the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (DCHG) in consultation with the National Museum of Ireland (NMI).

Ahead of analysis Ms McCormick, an osteoarchaeologist indicated the skeleton was a juvenile probably of 10-12 years of age and part of the same cemetery excavated in 1999.

Radiocarbon dating and specialist analysis of the environmental samples, small finds and both the animal and human remains is currently ongoing.

Mayor of Fingal Cllr David Healy said: 'I am pleased to see the investigation and protection of this site progressing now that it is possible to safely do so. Archaeological finds such as these provide an excellent opportunity for analysis to discover more about the rich heritage that lies all around us.'

Christine Baker, Fingal County Council's Heritage Officer said: 'We are looking forward to what the results of the analysis will add to the story of this burial ground.

'We are also investigating the most appropriate means to suspend the erosion of the site and will continue to work with the National Monuments Service and the National Museum of Ireland to protect this archaeological monument.'

When Jason Behan took his two children for a walk back in April, he took home schooling to a different level as a brief history lesson led to the accidental discovery of what is believed to be medieval skeletal remains.

Jason, from Castleview Crescent, in Swords and his children Brooke (12) and Johnny (10) were walking along The Jacko, or the Ward River, to get fresh air during the current isolation 'lock down' last Monday evening.

As the area is of historical importance - being a recorded monument where, in 1999, six medieval skeletons were recovered from the area by the National Monuments Service - Jason was giving his children a brief history lesson about the area.

'Dad was talking to us about this history of the area and that skeletons were found here a few years ago,' Brooke, who discovered the remains, told the Fingal Independent at the time of the discovery.

'I was throwing stones into the river and then saw what I thought was a hollow rock in the river bank,' she continued.

'When my dad said it was a skeleton I didn't believe him at first until we looked again and then saw the rest of the bones. It was a skeleton.'

'I was kinda shocked. Then it was like 'Wow', we were just talking about skeletons and then to actually find one. It was mad, so cool,' said Brooke, who attends St Cronan's National School.

Fingal Independent