All’s not well that ends well in Swords relocation

Local anger as Swords medieval well is covered up

by Rose Barrett
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Rose Barrett

Two weeks ago saw great excitement in Swords as excavations uncovered two wells believed to date from the medieval era.

Cllr Ann Graves (SF) welcomed the find and noted the excellent condition of one well, which appeared to be in good working order and filling with water. But last weekend, her joy turned to fury and utter disbelief that an historical find was covered over without communications with the local community or local councillors.

“I was utterly flabbergasted  – as were many of the local groups, especially those that give a lot of time to our heritage, historical locations of note, the Tidy Towns, etc.”

The well was discovered during excavations in preparations for the commencement of works for the new Swords Cultural Quarter.

“I wrote to Fingal County Council when I learnt the well was discovered behind the Courthouse and felt it could be a feature within the new Swords SQ. It’s part of our Swords historical past and our culture, and should, I feel, have been protected, not covered up to facilitate a modern build on a historic site. So much for learning from mistakes in the past.”

Last week, Fingal County Council advised the Gazette that archaeological investigations were ongoing in advance of the SCQ construction works. FCC confirmed that the well was, in fact, medieval in date, and therefore dates from the fifth to eighth centuries. Stating the consultant team were charged “to overlay the foundations of the cultural quarter buildings to see whether there is a possibility to preserve the well as it is. The archaeologists will provide us with a full report.” FCC further suggested that as with similar projects, the stones could be removed, and numbered, stored and displayed at a later stage.

However, Cllr Graves was furious that none of the Swords councillors or local heritage groups were provided with the report nor advised that the area was to be covered over to facilitate the foundations for the SCQ.

However, at Monday night’s council meeting, the well was discussed during a 20-minute briefing.

“This was the first time we had been notified of the existence of the wells (there were 2) without any consultation. We were advised that the stones from both had been removed, numbered and are being stored by FCC with a view to incorporating them into the SCQ. this was all overseen and agreed by the county archaeologist. 

“I noted a map sent to me from 1829/34 which showed structures so they couldn’t have been surprised at the existence of the wells. Sadly, the bed of the wells are covered with concrete now, as they were 2.5m in height and wide they couldn’t be incorporated into the building without a redesign. The wells we were told that they were in the way of the foundations and too high to place between floors,to put in the glass floor, as I had suggested.

“I’m disappointed but on a happier note, FCC will include the wells in the new cultural quarter in a different area and I’ve asked that local interest groups be included. FCC apologised re the lack of consultation, as but it was during holiday period etc. 

“3D visualisations were also taken and they will be on display in the SCQ. The wells are going to be relocated in the future!  Sadly, the damage can’t be undone. But when they are relocated in the new centre, all’s well that ends well, pardon the pun!”

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