Six human skeletons have been discovered during an archaeological dig at a site near Terryland Castle. The variety of finds discovered has been called “very historic and important”.
The discovery of human remains at the site began when the Galway City Council’s Transportation Unit began to install a pedestrian and cycle ramp off the Quincenntenial Bridge down to the Dyke Road at Terryland.
In the course of carrying out works, an archaeologist working on behalf of City Hall began to make the finds.
As well as the skeletons, other finds include possible grave-cuts and pits. A row of three nails which possibly formed a line of coffin nails suggest that the burials are of late medieval or post-medieval date.
Some 17th century pottery, window glass, clay pipe stems ,and possible glazed oven brick have also been recovered, as well as a knife and a buckle.
The Moore Group Archaeological Services, along with an osteo-archaeologist, Linda Lynch, have been engaged to investigate the finds. The Galway City Council’s heritage office and engineers, along with the National Roads Authority archaeologist, are working closely with the site archaeologist and the licensing authorities in the National Monuments Service and National Museum of Ireland to facilitate the recovery of the finds.
The present castle at Terryland is in fact a fortified house of early 17th century date. It was the property of the Earls of Clanricard, descendants of the De Burgos who came to Galway in the 13th century.
It was garrisoned during the 1641 Rebellion and again during the Cromwellian Wars in 1652. It was occupied by a joint force of Irish and French troops who defended the outworks of the castle against the approaching Williamite army in 1691. After a short defence and a skirmish, the Franco-Irish force burnt the castle and retreated into Galway city.
There is speculation that the burials might relate to one of the 17th century wars mentioned above or that they form part of a private burial ground for the owners of the castle and estate. An account of the excavation and its finds will be published as soon as possible.