Bones find stops Luas in its tracks

by Gazette Reporter

SIX sets of human remains have been found at the site of works on the Luas Cross City link in the city centre, the most recent being Wednesday, July 23.
The remains were uncovered over several days last week and followed the discovery of human bones on July 16, which halted Luas works near College Green until Saturday, when they then resumed.
Maria Fitzgerald, principal archaeologist with the Railway Procurement Agency (RPA), that is handling the excavation project, said: “We found the first human remains last Wednesday; initially, the feet and leg bones of an individual, and then over the course of the next few days we found additional human remains.
“By Saturday we had the bones of five individuals.”
According to Fitzgerald, just one set of bones contained a skull, while the rest were all partial remains. The two finds on Saturday were mostly leg and arm bones.
Fitzgerald also stipulated the potential for further discoveries within the area, given its historical make-up.
Sure enough, on Wednesday morning, another set of bones was unearthed and Luas works were halted again.
Grainne Mackin, a spokeswoman for the Luas Cross City project, said: “There was more than one [set of] skeleton remains found.”
When the discovery was made, the RPA team notified the relevant authorities – including the Department of Arts, Culture and Gaeltacht Affairs; Dublin City Council and the National History Museum.
The excavation of all the skeletal remains was carried out by hand by the Luas Cross City’s team of archaeologists.
They worked in pairs, using their hands to extract the most information from the bones, while in the ground, a painstaking process began, requiring the attention of a human bone expert to ensure no pieces were missed during excavation.
A team of additional specialists was brought in to decide the best way to “lift” the remains, and the appropriate soil to extract.
The area is steeped in Medieval history, so the discovery has come as no major surprise.
The site at College Green where Trinity College now stands was the former Augustinian All Hallows Priory, which was dissolved in 1538. Other monasteries close to the site could have heavily contributed to the find.
On the site’s heritage and finds, Fitzgerald said: “There’s the famous site of the King boat, which was on College Green, and Viking burials on Suffolk Street in the past, so it is an area of known Medieval archaeological potential.”
Some large pieces of pottery were also found in the site, giving some strong indications of a Medieval layer.
According to the Luas Cross City, further analysis will be carried out by a human bone specialist to determine whether the finds are male or female.
The information gathered during that process will also be able to determine the lifestyle and health of the person at their death.
The bones’ future is unclear. At the moment, they are in the care of an archaeological firm called Rubicon.
They will be moved to the National History Museum of Ireland once the primary work has been carried out.
A spokeswoman for the museum said: “We have no direct involvement as of yet. When they’ve done their bit, we will get involved and probably our conservation lab.”

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