Independent Cllr Kieran McCarthy has called for responses to the nature of archaeological test trenches on Bessborough Grounds before Christmas. Cllr McCarthy has been adamant in his call at Council level that a geo-physical radar survey be conducted on the grounds.
In response to Cllr McCarthy’s question to the Chief Executive at the last Council meeting, information was forthcoming that a programme of pre-development geophysical survey and archaeological test trenching was recommended by the City Archaeologist as part of pre-planning discussions in relation to a proposed development at this site.
According to the Director of Services for Strategic Planning and Economic Development Ferghal Reidy: “This is a standard recommendation given the size and scale of the proposed development and the sites location in close proximity to known archaeological Recorded Monuments and Places (RMP). The site was examined by a geophysical surveyor and was deemed unsuitable for Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR). GPR requires a very even ground surface free from excess vegetation and modern debris”.
A programme of archaeological test trenching commenced on Monday 9th December 2019. This work involved some necessary site clearance works. This work was carried out under archaeological licence issued by the National Monuments Service, Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht. The trenches were excavated, under supervision by a suitably qualified and experienced archaeologist, with a machine with a toothless bucket. The soil was removed in spits and was subsequently sieved on site. This is considered best practice.
The City Archaeologist was kept informed at all times and undertook a site inspection on Wednesday 11th December 2019. The ground works ceased on the afternoon of Wednesday 11th December following discussions with the National Monuments Service and the developer’s archaeologist. This was due to a technical issue with the archaeological licence. No archaeological features or finds were noted in the trenches excavated.
Cllr McCarthy noted: “ it is crucial that Cork City Council remains aware of the sensitivities associated with the site and these are kept to the fore with the representatives of the developer”.