Archaeology Content

Humans have occupied Ireland for the past 10,000 years, leaving us with a rich legacy of archaeological monuments and landscapes. We work to conserve this unique archaeological heritage.

Underwater Archaeological Investigation: Newtown Jerpoint

This investigation was undertaken on the bed of the River Nore and its tributary - the Little Arrigle River at the nationally-important, deserted medieval settlement of Newtown Jerpoint in Co. Kilkenny. The project combined voluntary and professional input from two project partners, including members of the Thomastown Community River Trust and personnel from the Archaeological Diving Company.

Newtown Jerpoint is located 3km southwest of Thomastown, in southeast  Kilkenny. Standing remains within the settlement site include St Nicholas Church, whose construction lies between the 13th and 15th centuries, and a secular stone-built tower of medieval date. Buried archaeological remains are also visible within the landscape and include burgage plots, field boundaries, house plots, and associated streetscapes. Considerable attention has been given to the site over the years; most recently culminating in the Heritage Council grant-aided Conservation Plan Newtown Jerpoint [pdf 5.31mb].

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River Nore Investigations

The investigation in the River Nore provided evidence of the presence of extant bridge remains, situated a short distance to the north of the site. The in-water survey identified substantial areas of bonded masonry collapse, forming different components of the original bridge-build. Moreover, it has established that collapsed bridge material is present at depth within the build-up of riverbed deposits at this location; indicating that the bridge's foundations remain in situ, buried beneath the masonry collapse.

Archaeological evidence relating to the construction date and subsequent lifespan of the bridge is limited at present. However, the presence of Blackware, within the mortar matrix of one of the sections of bridge collapse, suggests that a bridge structure was not only standing in the 1600s, but may have also undergone repair during that time.

Little Arrigle River Investigations

In addition to the investigation of the Nore, a comprehensive survey of the Little Arrigle River was undertaken. This provided evidence of the past management of the waterway, in the form of extensive river channelling. However, at this juncture, it is unclear if this relates specifically to the industrial period or has its origin in the establishment of milling activity as part of the earlier settlement of Newtown Jerpoint. A small assemblage of archaeological finds was also recovered as part of the investigation, predominately dating to the late seventeenth-century.

The project received grant-aid of €5,000 under the Heritage Research Scheme in 2012.