17 Aug 2022

Cromwell’s men’s severed heads buried in James Green

HUMAN remains believed to belong to three of Oliver Cromwell’s soldiers have been unearthed during redevelopment work at James Green.

HUMAN remains believed to belong to three of Oliver Cromwell’s soldiers have been unearthed during redevelopment work at James Green.

The discovery was made in recent days and the remains are now being examined by an archaeologist, Patrick Neary.

“The heads of seven of Cromwell’s men are believed to be buried there. They were killed near Ballinakill in Co Laois in 1642 and their heads were hung from the Market Cross in Kilkenny on the next market day and later buried. To date we have found what we believe are two severed heads belonging to the soldiers ,” he said.

This was at the beginning of Cromwell’s tenure and although Cromwell himself had yet to arrive in Ireland seven men (two officers and five soldiers), who were part of the English government forces were killed when they took on the Confederates. It was a bloody battle involving 60 of the government forces, who were marching from Ballyragget to Ballinakill and an estimated 600 of the Confederates.

The remains were discovered during development work of James Green. They have been removed and will be examined by an osteo archaelogist and are destined to be handed over to the National Museum in Dublin.

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.

Mr Neary added that James Green is also believed to be close to the site of St James Church, which dates back to the 1300’s and was the departure point for pilgrims who made the pilgrimage to Santiago del Compostela in Spain.

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.

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