Margaret Gowen and Co. Ltd., Ferndale Road, Rathmichael, Co. Dublin, is a professional archaeological company founded in the early 1980s.The company has carried out a number of archaeological excavations and development-led investigations arising from the requirements of development control and planning process, in line with legal provisions of the Planning and Development Acts (2000) and the National Monuments Acts (1930-2004) and Amendments Acts.
The excavation of this 1.6ha site bounded by Smithfield, North King Street, Queen Street and Haymarket was carried out between March 2002 - March 2003. The focus of the excavation was the City Council’s development of Oxmantown Green in 1664–5 and subsequent activities across the site. The site was excavated in three phases.
In 1664 the City Council decreed ‘that Oxmantown Green be taken and set by lots in fee farm, reserving a highway and large market place [with] staking out the lots to be disposed of by lottery’. ‘The large market place’ became Smithfield Market, and the ‘highway’ became Queen Street. The most striking aspect of the excavation was the close spatial correlation of the plots and structures recorded with those depicted on John Rocque’s 1756 Exact Survey of the City of Dublin, following through to those on the first edition of the OS.
A second important aspect is the remarkable sequence of dung-houses recorded, from the 1660s to the introduction of a piped water supply barely a century later.
The excavation produced 27 burials from the sod. They may have come from the nearby gallows but were more likely the victims of one of the many skirmishes recorded on The Green during the 16th and 17th centuries. A roof-tile kiln was also found.
The second phase of the excavation examined the evidence of Bective House, a large mansion. After 1790 the bulk of the building was demolished. Part of the façade survived until recently on the site.
The third phase examined the southern end of the development, on the Haymarket frontage. The earliest deposits were interpreted as associated with Oxmantown Green. The recovery of merchants’ tokens and of several Nuremberg jettons, dating from between 1562 and 1586, attest to significant commercial activity on the site prior to the formal establishment of the market c.1665. A single burial, disturbed by 18th-century building activity, cut the sod to the rear of the Haymarket plots. The most significant finding during this phase was evidence for the first flint glassworks in Dublin, established in 1675 by John Odacio Formica. Evidence for the 17th-century occupation of the site consisted of several latrines, with associated occupation surfaces and walls.
Evidence for 18th century occupation was also recovered. By the end of the 18th century the market was prospering and, with it, ancillary industries. The general area later developed a parallel function as a military, hospital and penitentiary quarter.
Archival History ↴
Transferred by Margaret Gowen and Co. Ltd. To Dublin City Archives, 18 September 2009
Immediate Source Acquisition ↴
Content & Structure
Scope & Content: Margaret Gowen and Company ↴
This collection contains archaeological excavation records from the site Smithfield, Dublin 7, by Franc Myles. Includes: notebooks, levels books,registers, catalogues, feature sheets, skeleton sheets, finds sheets, timber sheets, reports, health and safety material, administrative material, correspondence, maps, plans, drawings, matrices, photographs, floppy discs and CDs.
Appraisal Destruction ↴
Collection processed and box lists created by Niamh Collins. Arranged according to document type.
Conditions of Access & Use
Available to view by public who apply for research card in Dublin City Library and Archive Reading Room, 138-144 Pearse street, Dublin 2.
Conditions Governing Reproduction
The terms of the Copyright and Related Acts (2000) allows DCLA to provide photocopies of material for research purposes only. Publication by written permission from Margaret Gowen and Company only.
Extent and Medium 12 boxes and 4 outsize folders
Material Language Script
Characteristics Tech Req
Floppy disc drive required
Box list available on DCAA Database in Dublin City Library and Archive Reading Room.
Archive Web Link →
Database of Irish excavations reports, www.excavations.ie
More detailed Administrative and Biographical History available on the DCAA database in the Dublin City Library and Archive Reading Room.
'Dig' : An exhibition of drawings and photographs from the Smithfield Excavation was curated by Frank Myles and Annmarie Kilshaw and exhibited in The Complex, 18-21 Smithfield Square in September 2010.
Descriptive Control Area
ISAD(G): General International Standard Archival Description, 2nd ed. Ottawa: International Council on Archives, 2000.