The ancient skeletal remains found in Rivervalley Park, Swords earlier this year have now been retrieved and are undergoing specialist analysis. In April 2020 locals out walking in River Valley Park, Swords spotted exposed human skeletal remains on the southern bank of the Ward River. The find was reported to Gardaí and the National Museum of Ireland inspected the site, confirming the remains as archaeological. Due to the COVID-19 directives the site could not be excavated at the time but following the lifting of these restrictions this important work has been able to progress.
The site where the remains were found is a recorded archaeological monument where archaeologists from the National Monuments Service excavated six skeletons in 1999. These were medieval in date and as the burials were deposited in an irregular fashion within a flood plain it was thought they may reflect some form of communal hasty burial of victims of plague or other trauma.
Following the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions a geophysical survey was undertaken to try and identify limits of the site followed by excavation to retrieve the exposed skeletal remains. Excavation was undertaken in June 2020 at the site by Maeve McCormick of Archer Heritage Planning Ltd under licence from the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (DCHG) in consultation with the National Museum of Ireland (NMI). Ahead of analysis Ms McCormick, an osteoarchaeologist indicated the skeleton was a juvenile probably of 10-12 years of age and part of the same cemetery excavated in 1999. Radiocarbon dating and specialist analysis of the environmental samples, small finds and both the animal and human remains is currently ongoing.
Mayor of Fingal Cllr David Healy said ‘I am pleased to see the investigation and protection of this site progressing now that it is possible to safely do so. Archaeological finds such as these provide an excellent opportunity for analysis to discover more about the rich heritage that lies all around us.’
Christine Baker, Fingal County Councils Heritage Officer said ‘We are looking forward to what the results of the 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’.