Archaeologist found Viking houses from 1070 in Cork dig at former Beamish & Crawford brewery

Weaver's sword on display at the launch of the exhibition at Cork Public Museum.

Archaeologist found Viking houses from 1070 in Cork dig at former Beamish & Crawford brewery:

Unearthings at a former brewery in Cork have uncovered the foundations of 19 wooden Viking age houses from the 11th and 12th centuries.

Some of the structures go back to 1070, making them 30 years older than any housing previously unearthed in the city.

The dig at the former Beamish & Crawford factory also found 3 stone walls and a doorway from St Laurence’s Church, dating back to the 13th century.

Cork’s urban layout as a Viking city dates from around the same time that Waterford began developing as a Viking city, however archaeologists have yet to find any Proof on Leeside comparable to a trading post established near Waterford in the ninth century, archaeologists have found.

According to Dr. Maurice Hurley of University College Cork (UCC), who was involved in archeological digs in Waterford and Cork, both cites appear to have developed as structured Viking urban settlements around the same time in the eleventh century.

“All the cities developed around the same time so there isn’t an awful lot of difference between Waterford and Cork in terms of when they were founded in terms of a formal urban layout where you have an open space, a street and an allocation of property,” he said

“But what makes Waterford different is that they have Woodstown – 10km up the Suir – it does not have an urban layout or town structure but there is no comparable Viking site dating from that late 9th/early 10th century period found in Cork – at least not yet,” he added.

Artifact exhibition

Dr. Hurley was speaking at the launch of an exhibition of artifacts from the late eleventh century Viking period found during the excavation of the Beamish & Crawford site on South Main Street in preparation for the construction of Cork’s long-awaited €75 million event center.

A group of archaeologists under Dr. Hurley excavated the site between November 2016 and March 2018 on behalf of event center developers, BAM.

The excavation found proof of the earliest urban layout of Cork city discovered to date, with the 1st houses built at the Beamish & Crawford site dating from around 1070, which makes them some 30 years older than housing found at the nearby Sir Henry’s site.

Acting curator at Cork Public Museum, Dan Breen, thanked the National Museum of Ireland for lending the newly found artifacts to the museum.

“The exhibition shines a light on the Vikings’ housing, clothing, cooking methods, and religious practices and among the artifact on display is a perfectly preserved 1,000-year-old weaver’s sword featuring a carved human face,” said Mr. Breen.

Many of the artifacts are wooden, having been preserved in the acidic marshy ground settled by the Vikings and among the other items found were a collection of spoons, ladles, and bucket as well as a wooden thread-winder with carved design of 2 horses’ heads, he said.


Cork City Council chief executive Ann Doherty, Cork Public Museum acting curator Daniel Breen

Cork City Council chief executive Ann Doherty, Cork Public Museum acting curator Daniel Breen

Viking era artefacts on display at Cork Public Museum.

Viking era artefacts on display at Cork Public Museum. 
Jessica Saraceni has been a part of Histecho Since 2018, drawn to the site for its quirky character and through Articles about the Mysteries of earth and human behavior. previously, she was an assistant editor and Research fellow at Archaeology magazine, where she gained an appreciation for the field work. A master's degree in biogeochemistry and environmental science from the Center for Archaeological Research, the University of Texas at San Antonio. She enjoys all forms of exercise; reading works by her favorite author, Haruki Murakami; and playing with her sons.