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Skeletons found at historical Site of St Mary’s Abbey on Capel Street Street

Skeletons found at historical Site of St Mary’s Abbey on Capel Street Street

Almost a hundred skeletal remains dating back to ancient medieval times have been uncovered during the architectural phase for a new hotel on Capel Street in Dublin City Centre.

The site was purchased by Beannchor hospitality group, who received planning permission from An Bord Pleanála for a 98 bedroom hotel which is set to progress after archaeological surveys of the site have been completed. Now these surveys have uncovered what is being dubbed one of the most important heritage sites in the city.

Amid the finds are around one hundred skeletons dating back to the High Middle Ages period of Dublin, in fact some of the oldest remains are 1000 years old.

The remains are centred around the site of what was once St Mary’s Abbey. Much like St Thomas’s abbey in the liberties, it was dissolved by Henry IIIV, and it’s foundations give fresh insight into the interaction between  Viking-age Dublin and Christianity.

Though the site has served many functions throughout the ages, the original foundations were lost to history until at least the 1880s, when they were once again discovered underground by an archaeologist at the time.

In 2014, Trinity College purchased a manuscript dated around 1304 for €250,000 which was created at St Mary’s Abbey. This shows just how important this area was at one time to Irish monastic culture.

It was assumed from the outset by Beannchor that there was historical significance to the site, though they were perhaps unaware of just how much was there. They have stated that their investment and commitment to the development is part of a way to preserve this history.

One might be forgiven for walking down Abbey street and not making the connection with St Mary’s Abbey, but all of that looks to change.

Speaking to Dublinlive recently, Beannchor Managing Director Bill Wolsey said:

“We could never have foreseen the complexity of this project at the outset… Great care has been taken to preserve and incorporate elements of these early surviving buildings into the new development, on what we now know is one of the most significant heritage sites in the city.”

It will be fascinating to see how this history is incorporated into the development. They (Beannchor) would have known the site had historical value, but they may not have been aware just how significant the architectural survey would be. Any plans for the area will most likely need to harness the historical significance of the site now, as it is reveals to us as central to a forgotten history, the site of what’s been deemed the “Christ Church of the North side”.

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