Radiocarbon dating to be used to uncover the truth about six skeletons found under a former Cork pub

Cork City Council (CCC) has confirmed that radiocarbon dating will be used to uncover the truth about six skeletons which were found at the site of an old pub earlier this month.

n October 7, as part of preparatory work to demolish Nancy Spain’s pub on Barrack Street, skeletal remains were discovered of one individual who is believed to have died in the 18th Century.

The site was being excavated as part of a regeneration project being carried out by CCC which aims to build 32 social housing units on the site.

That’s according to CCC archaeologist Ciara Brett who has confirmed that five more bodies have been uncovered in the past fortnight and work is continuing to identify when the individuals died and why they were buried there.

Ms Brett told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland programme, that the site was being monitored by archaeologists from the start of the project as it is located in the heart of Cork’s medieval quarter.

She said cartographic sources and maps from the 1700s show there were structures on the site and large garden areas to the rear.

It was also approximately 500 metres from a 17th Century gallows and roughly 200 metres from the 17th Century Elizabeth Fort.

“So, there’s quite a lot of later medieval material in the area. It’s quite an historic area,” she said.

Ms Brett confirmed the investigation is being led by a licensed archaeologist and an osteoarchaeologist and described the remains as “quite fragmentary”.

“It’s not possible to definitively date them, but they certainly pre-date the 19th Century buildings on the site. So, I think they’re possible likely 18th Century or earlier,” she added.

“It’s not uncommon to find human remains within an urban context but it’s not an everyday occurrence. We’re excited to get the remains off the site and to get them examined by the osteoarchaeologist and also, we hope to date the bones by radiocarbon dating.

“At the moment we have no dateable evidence, as in we have no artefacts associated with the skeletal remains, so we really do need to date them by radiocarbon dating,” Ms Brett said.

She added that they hope to have the on-site investigation included by the end of this week and said, “as best practice in these kind of things, they’re all removed from the site, and they’ll be examined by the osteoarchaeologist and she does visual inspections.”

She said that the visual inspection can reveal information such as such as the sex of the individuals, their age and if they suffered from any diseases.

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