Earliest known settlement in Cork discovered on Events Centre site

Earliest known settlement in Cork discovered on Events Centre site
The site of the planned events centre off South Main Street. Picture: Denis Minihane.

CHANGES may be needed to the foundations of the proposed events centre site following a number of significant archaeological finds.

The site at the former Beamish & Crawford brewery on South Main Street is the location for the stalled events centre project and a large number of student apartments, with developer BAM currently working on the apartment element of the project.

Elected members of Cork City Council were last night briefed on the archaeological surveys which took place on the site in 2017.

Discoveries included the walls of a 12th century stone church and an urban layout from 1070AD, pre-dating the town settlement in Waterford and, potentially, marking the earliest known discovery of urban settlement in Cork.

Walls and foundations of St Laurence's Church were discovered in the area closest to the south channel of the Lee, with archaeologists recommending that these not be preserved on site due to potential environmental and tidal degradation.

Construction has begun on the northern end of the Beamish site on a student apartment development. Picture: Jim Coughlan
Construction has begun on the northern end of the Beamish site on a student apartment development. Picture: Jim Coughlan

The report notes that archaeologists also discovered evidence that houses had been built on limited available ground just above water level on the part of the site that fronts onto South Main St, with dendro-chronological (tree-ring dating) samples indicating that these are from as early as 1070AD.

No archaeological surveying has taken place at the Counting House in the centre of the site, which is currently subject to plans for underground basements and a lift shaft as part of the event centre build.

It is understood that the significance of these finds may require changes to be made to the planned foundations of parts of the proposed development.

The report notes: "Walls which are considered to be of archaeological significance [in the South Main St area] have been preserved in situ and amendments to the foundation design for the current proposal will be necessary."

Planned public lectures will detail the full find, with the first taking place in February. The report notes that there is a 'willingness' to incorporate exhibitions into the redeveloped site.

Independent councillor and local historian Kieran McCarthy stressed the importance of the discoveries.

"In a sense, this is one of the key sites where Cork began its story among its marshy islands," he said.

"To find part of the foundations of the 12th Century St Laurence's Church, timbers from a house with a dendrochronology date of the 11th Century and associated objects its very exciting."

Mr McCarthy said that the final development 'needs to incorporate' the finds into its final design.

He also called for further investigations into the Beamish & Crawford site and other Viking-age sites nearby with the potential of including the area in the new Fáilte Ireland Viking Age tour route, which is currently under development.

More in this section

Sponsored Content

summersoaplogosml

Called Droid, our next story is about a boy who designs a robot at UCC and chaos ensues. It was written by Margaret Gillies, from the MA in Creative Writing Programme at UCC.

Add Echolive.ie to your home screen - easy access to Cork news, views, sport and more