Back in the early 70’s I took the number 17 bus to UCD Belfield every day. It meandered its way through the suburbs of Dublin passing the imposing gates of Rathfarnham Castle. Little did I think, as I sat on the bus that I would one day have the opportunity to examine in detail and report on the leather finds from the 2014 excavations. At that time, the castle was a private school under the patronage of the Jesuit order. The building itself had been largely subsumed into the fabric of the boarding school and could only be glimpsed through the trees behind its high walls.
Today, all that has changed. The castle is now in the care of the OPW. The school and its buildings are gone and the grounds are a beautifully laid out public park. In 2014, excavations were carried out by Archaeology Plan, directed by Antoine Giacometti which uncovered a sealed pit below the kitchens in the south-east tower. From the wash-pit came a staggering total of 7,500 artefacts which included a significant assemblage of 17th century footwear.
The report is now available online at www.archaeologyplan.com and is free to download. A major resource for anyone interested in 17th century material culture in Ireland.
Portrait of Mrs. Loftus by Sir Peter Lely which can be seen in the ballroom of Rathfarnham Castle.
The remnants of a woman’s shoe, once fashionable and possibly contemporary with the portrait.