13th century graveyard unearthed

THE REMAINS of a mother and child, dating back to the 1300’s have been unearthed during works to James Green.

THE REMAINS of a mother and child, dating back to the 1300’s have been unearthed during works to James Green.

It is believed that the remains are part of the cemetery attached to St James Church, which was demolished in the mid 1300’s. The remains have been left in place and according to archaelogist Patrick Neary the bodies of hundreds of people dating back to this period may be buried under James Green and Blackmill Street.

“It would seem that this is a 13th century graveyard attached to St James Church where people would have gathered before making the pilgrimage to Santiago del Compostela in Spain. There were three churches: St Nicholas, St Peters and St James and the bishop at the time demolished the three chapels in order to build his palace,” he said.

Earlier this month remains believed to belong to three of Oliver Cromwell’s soldiers have been unearthed during the redevelopment works. “The intial theory that they were Cromwell’s soldiers was disproved after further investigations and the heads that were found are now believed to date back to the 13th century. The burial of the mother and the child is aligned from east to west with the head pointed to the west which is indicative of a Christian burial. It would seem that when the mother and child were buried that other graves were disturbed and that the remains were reinterred in a disarticulated state,” added Mr Neary.

Medieval pottery and an old drain, believed to be from a well at The Closh to the River Breagagh have also being unearthed at the site. Excavations are ongoing and further finds are possible according to Mr Neary.

The development works involve the removal of existing trees and flower beds, replanting with new trees and shrubs, the removal of the existing concrete footpath to be replaced with new footpaths, the refurbishment of the statue and the erection of new seats and lighting. The estimated cost of the development works is €50,000 and the works are expected to be completed by the end of the month.