Going into this lecture I had little Idea of what would actually be covered, not knowing what a cathedral close actually was. However instead of a presentation on the merits of a single cathedral as I had expected, what followed was an interesting array and impressive display of information about the medieval town of Kilkenny. With special focus on St. Canice, this lecture took us through an interesting time period in Kilkenny towns history in relation to its religious centre and the urban landscape that surrounded it.
Archaeological investigations have taken place on the grounds of the cathedral with extensive geophysical coverage being used to identify graves and tombs. The excavations have revealed much, such as the history of the round tower which has been constructed upon an earlier monastic cemetery shortly after AD 1111. The foundations sitting only a foot and a half deep are directly atop a number of burials consisting together of two adults but also of two children in the surviving remains of a wooden coffin which has given rise to questions such as whether the tower had even been deliberately placed upon these burials. The recount of the archaeological investigations continues to cover a large range of materials and interesting features of the close. These include the use and filling of a surrounding ditch of the cathedral and the questions this can raise about this occurrence, whether it was a deliberate fill to expand the area for construction or a deliberate slighting of monastic sites such as at Clonmacnoise.
Overall, this lecture covered a wide range of material on Medieval life for the residents of the close and their residences. The continuing work and publication will shed light on their day to day life and associations with the surrounding areas and their associations through trade. He goes on to point out the need for further excavation in this area to help expand our knowledge of Irish Medieval life.
By Liam Wilson