Medieval murder mystery at Kilkenny Castle

A HUMAN skull believed to be that of a murder victim dating back to medieval times has been unearthed embedded in the walls of the moat of Kilkenny Castle.

The moat walls were discovered on Tuesday by archaeologists working on the Parade development. The moat is believed to date back some 800 years to 1209. "This is the most significant find since we began our excavations last April. We always believed that the moat existed but it was never found and we thought that it was located closer to where the Kilkenny Design Centre presently is," consultant archaeologist Patrick Neary told the Kilkenny People.

The moat, which follows the footprint of the castle is ten metres from the Parade Tower and holds a sinister secret. Embedded in the walls is the remains of a human skull, which almost certainly belonged to someone who died in suspicious circumstances.

"It seems almost certain that a body was deliberately put down there when the moat was being built. This is obviously not a Christian burial and it looks like the body was concealed in the walls where it was highly unlikely that it would ever be found," Mr Neary said.

An osteo archaeologist, who specialises in human remains is due to arrive in Kilkenny today (Wednesday) to carry out further investigations.

However, archaeologists working on the site believe that it is unlikely that the remainder of the skeleton will be discovered. "There was a water main put down very close to the moat wall in the early 1900's and more than likely this severed the body," added Mr Neary.

Gardai and the coroner's office have been alerted of the discovery of the remains.

"The coroner indicated that the skull may be removed for forensic examinations but this will be clarified over the coming days. I expect that the coroner's office and the osteo-archaeologist will liaise from here on," remarked Mr Neary.

The moat, a defensive structure built to protect the castle from attack is stone-faced and was built using local stone, mainly limestone.


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