Exhibits from dig at events centre site go on display

Exhibits from dig at events centre site go on display
A weaver's sword among other Viking era artefacts on display at the "Below Our Feet" Exhibition at Cork Public Museum. Picture: Michael O'Sullivan/OSM Photo

ARTEFACTS unearthed during the archaeological dig at the future site of Cork’s events centre ‘must be’ incorporated into the final build, according to developers BAM.

Theo Cullinane, CEO of BAM Ireland, was speaking at the launch of a new public exhibition of discoveries, which is opening this week at the Cork Public Museum and running for the next six months.

Cork City Council CE Ann Doherty, Cork Public Museum acting curator Daniel Breen, and BAM CEO Theo Cullinane, were among those to officially launch the "Below our Feet" Viking Exhibition at Cork Public Museum. Picture: Michael O'Sullivan/OSM Photo
Cork City Council CE Ann Doherty, Cork Public Museum acting curator Daniel Breen, and BAM CEO Theo Cullinane, were among those to officially launch the "Below our Feet" Viking Exhibition at Cork Public Museum. Picture: Michael O'Sullivan/OSM Photo

The exhibition depicts the results of an archaeological dig at the former Beamish & Crawford site on South Main Street.

Discoveries include evidence of the earliest urban layout recorded of Cork dated to 1070AD, as well the foundations of 19 Viking Age houses from the 11th and 12th century.

Three stone walls and the door way of the 13th century St Laurence’s Church were also discovered.

Mr Cullinane said that it is not clear how these will be incorporated into the final events centre design but stressed that there ‘must be’ some element.

“I imagine that it will be incorporated into the detailed design,” he said.

“There must be some reference: what has been found is so important.”

While some of the larger finds remain at the South Main Street site due to tidal and environmental conditions, the museum exhibition includes a perfectly preserved 1,000 year old weaver’s sword, a collection of spoons, ladles and buckets, as well as a wooden thread-winder, figures and, even, a bowling ball.

A reconstructed Viking era house among other artefacts on display at the launch of the "Below Our Feet" Exhibition. Picture: Michael O'Sullivan/OSM Photo
A reconstructed Viking era house among other artefacts on display at the launch of the "Below Our Feet" Exhibition. Picture: Michael O'Sullivan/OSM Photo

Dan Breen, curator of Cork Public Museum, said that the discoveries reveal a lot about Viking-era Cork, including how our ancestors entertained themselves with dice and gaming figures.

“It says that our ancestors had to do a lot of work to settle Cork, especially early Cork, and reclaim the land from the water which was gushing around it,” he said.

“A lot of the artefacts were wooden; the water-logged conditions helped to preserve a lot of these artefacts.”

He continued: “There is a high level of craftsmanship and they had a high threshold to be able to survive in such harsh conditions and to build a settlement that would grow into what is now Cork,” he said.

Initial finds suggested that the area may be one of the earliest known Viking settlements in Ireland, potentially pre-dating Waterford. However, Mr Breen said this looks unlikely now.

“Like most archaeological excavations, there is probably another 12 months of post-archaeological work to do in terms of sifting through the evidence and the likes of radio-carbon dating,” he said.

“I would imagine it is still up in there before an answer can be given to that. At the moment, Waterford would probably still hold the title.”

Cork Public Museum will host the exhibition for six months after which time it will revert back to the State. However, it is expected that the museum will apply to extend the loan close to the end of the initial exhibition period.

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