Archaeological Excavations at Glendalough

Edmond O’Donovan & Associates was delighted with the opportunity to conduct an archaeological excavation within the main Monastic Enclosure at Glendalough, Co. Wicklow for the Office of Public Works and National Monuments Service who run the site. The dig was required before new bridge piers were constructed on either side of the river at St Kevin’s church. The archaeological dig uncovered a succession of archaeological deposits. Four principal phases of archaeological activity were identified as follows:

St Kevins Chruch, Glendalough, Co. Wicklow

St Kevins Church with site of Excavation in the Foreground

  • Phase I – (Early Christian?) A stone built river bank or revetment was built with large granite boulders. One stone has been used extensively as a whetstone for filing and sharpening metal tools and other objects.
  • Phase II – (Medieval) An earthen bank was constructed in front of the stone riverfront revetment (Phase I). This bank or sequence of deposits was built from successive layers of charcoal, clay and gravel. It clearly formed part of a larger, as yet uninvestigated structure.
  • Phase III – (Medieval, 13th-15th centuries) A paved surface and path was built on the earlier structures (Phase I and II). Two sherds of Leinster Cooking Ware were retrieved from within the paving deposit.
  • Phase IV – (Post-medieval, 18th-19th centuries) A large stone lined enclosure wall was constructed around St Kieran’s Church. Stone bridge abutments for a late 19th century timber bridge were constructed. The stone enclosure wall was built in the middle of the 19th century or before; the bridge abutments appear to date from either side of 1875-6 when the site was taken into State care.