Medieval "plague" mass grave discovered in north Dublin

Medieval “plague” mass grave discovered in north Dublin

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Medieval “plague” mass grave discovered in north Dublin

According to an Irish Central report, walkers in North County Dublin spotted bones eroding out of the surface of the ground during a period of drought this spring.

Examination of the bones by osteoarchaeologist Maeve McCormick revealed they belonged to a boy who was about 12 years of age at the time of his death.

The 12-year – old skeletal remains were found in River Valley Park, Swords, North County Dublin in April 2020. The bones that have now been extracted from the test area date back to the 15th century.

The skeletal remains of a 12-year-old, found in Swords, earlier this year are believed to be part of a plague burial ground.

Experts at the National Museum of Ireland said the bones became exposed due to the unseasonably dry weather in March and April. 

Sadly, due to COVID-19 restrictions, the site could not be excavated. However, Fingal County Council told the Irish Times that with the easing of restrictions the examination has begun.

The site where the remains were found by walkers is a recorded archaeological monument, where archaeologists from the National Monuments Service excavated six skeletons in 1999.

They said the bones “were medieval in date and as the burials were deposited in an irregular fashion within a flood plain it was thought they may reflect some form of communal hasty burial of victims of plague or other trauma.”

The excavation was undertaken by Maeve McCormick, of Archer Heritage Planning Ltd, under license from the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht in consultation with the National Museum.

McCormick, an osteoarchaeologist, indicated that the latest skeleton unearthed was a juvenile, probably between ten and 12 years of age and that these remains are part of a burial site excavated in the area, in 1999.

Radiocarbon dating of the animal and human remains will allow them to get a precise timeline for the site.

Fingal County Council’s Heritage Officer Christine Baker says this analysis will “add to the story of this burial ground”. 

“We are also investigating the most appropriate means to suspend the erosion of the site and will continue to work with the National Monuments Service and the National Museum of Ireland to protect this archaeological monument,” she said.


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