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Dublin: 15 °C Thursday 13 August, 2020
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Skeletal remains found in Swords could date back to Medieval plague

The remains were found in April but expert analysis was delayed due to Covid19 restrictions.

An aerial picture of the excavation.
An aerial picture of the excavation.
Image: Fingal County Council

SKELETAL REMAINS FOUND in Swords in north county Dublin could date back to a Medieval plague, experts have said.

The remains were found by walkers in River Valley Park in April and a subsequent inspection by the National Museum of Ireland confirmed the remains as being archaeological.

Covid-19 restrictions had prevented further excavation from taking place at the time but that examination has now been completed. 

The site where the remains were found is a recorded archaeological monument where archaeologists from the National Monuments Service excavated six skeletons in 1999.

Those skeletons were found to be Medieval in date and Fingal County Council says the burials were “deposited in an irregular fashion within a floodplain”.

The councils says it was therefore thought the site may reflect some form of communal, hasty burial of victims of plague or other trauma.

This latest skeletal finding was examined in June and osteoarchaeologist Maeve McCormick indicated that the skeleton was a juvenile probably of 10-12 years of age.

It was also determined that the skeleton was within the same cemetery excavated in 1999.

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Radiocarbon dating of animal and human remains to get a precise timeline is currently underway.

Fingal County Council’s Heritage Officer Christine Baker says this analysis will “add to the story of this burial ground”. 

“We are also investigating the most appropriate means to suspend the erosion of the site and will continue to work with the National Monuments Service and the National Museum of Ireland to protect this archaeological monument,” she said.

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Rónán Duffy

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