Sunday 20 October 2019

Thirteenth Century wine jug found on High Hill archaeological dig

Catherine McLoughlin with Colm Moriarty of Stafford McLoughlin archaeologists
Catherine McLoughlin with Colm Moriarty of Stafford McLoughlin archaeologists

David Looby

A wine jug handle and a skillet pan handle from the 1200s and 1300s were among objects found during an archaeological dig on the High Hill in New Ross, which is to be transformed into a Norman gardens park.

A planning application has been lodged for the development of a public realm area in The High Hill in New Ross, to include Norman gardens. The application was lodged by Fintan Ryan to create formal planting patterns consisting of a variety of hedges, aromatic plants and herbs. A series of faceted gardens form the space between the paths and negotiate the topography, footpaths and pathways connecting the River Barrow to St Mary's Church of Ireland. Also shared surfaces to improve pedestrian access and movement, with public resting areas, incorporating seating.

Ahead of a Part 8 planning application archaeologists Stafford McLoughlin were appointed to carry out a preliminary dig.

Catherine McLaughlin said a mini digger was used at the old Royal Hotel site. Catherine said: 'We did an initial assessment for Wexford County Council which showed there was a potential for archaeological remains to be recovered due to the hill's location in the heart of the medieval town.'

Catherine and her team visited the site in late May, digging some test trenches in the lower part of the hill, which led them to an area which was previously the basement bar of The Royal Hotel which was destroyed in a fire. The dig attracted the attention of some passer-by who recalled frequenting discos in the old bar.

As the archaeologists travelled further up the site they came to an area of undisturbed ground where they found archaeological remains dating to the 13th century.

Catherine said the hill was used as a quarry to meet local needs in the 13th century and later in the 19th century.

Describing its location as pivotal in the old medieval town leading to the Maiden Gate and Irishtown, she found evidence of walls, proving there people living or working in the area.

Rubbish pits were also unearthed where pottery from the 13th and 14th centuries was found.

This included French Saintoinge pottery. Catherine said this was evidence of wine being imported from France at a time when New Ross was the main importing port for the highly valued beverage, along with Waterford.

Shards of pottery were found, as well as the handle of an ancient cooking skillet pan during the one day excavation.

Once engineering site details are available, it is expected that a more extensive dig will take place on site.

New Ross Standard