Viking Logo

VIKING NETWORK IRELAND

VIKING WEXFORD


 

The placename ueigsfjord means "the ford of the waterlogged island". The first reference to the "foreigners" of Loch Gorman (Wexford) was in 888 AD. In 1988 excavation at the corner of Bride St. and South Main Street revealed the remains of about 300 years of settlement starting in c.1000.

Houses.

A sequence of ten levels of houses was uncovered. The houses were similar to those discovered by Pat Wallace at Fishamble St., Dublin. The most common was Wallace's type 1 houses, a three aisled, sub-rectangular, post and wattle house with its short axis and entrances at the front and rear.

Bracken used as insulation where the house had double walls. The roofs were hipped and thatched with four internal supports. The thatch was tied to a wattle and there was none of the heavy carpentry associated with the Dublin houses.

The average house size was 7.6m x 5.6m. Each house had a centre aisle with a centrally placed hearth and two side aisles each containing a bedding area. There was no interior light except what came from the fire or through the doors. The beds were used as benches during the day.

Wexford house

Late twelfth-century house from Bride Street, Wexford.

The central part of the house served as kitchen, workshop and bedroom. The ends of the house was occupied by the entrances and storage areas.

The Plant Remains.

Ferns, moss and wood chips were used to cover the clay floors and food remains (including mussels and hazelnuts) became incorporated into the flooring. This material was gradually turning into compost and must have raised the internal temperature of the house.

Food Sources and Diet.

Excavation showed that a wide and varied supply of meat was available to the occupants. Cattle, sheep and pigs were the main domestic animals eaten. Few charred bones were found which may suggest that stewing was the main cooking method.

Domestic dog bones also occurred. Pigs of the "greyhound type" were reared in the plots, a farrowing pen was found. Seal, hare and porpoise were also sometimes eaten. There is evidence that domestic fowl including goose duck and wild birds were raised from the twelfth century.

A great variety of fish was also eaten - cod, ling, hake, whiting, plaice and herring though most of the fish bones were recovered fron the thirteenth century contexts.

Fruits included haw, apple, hazelnuts, blackberry, sloe and bilberry. Oats and barley were used. Antler was worked on the site throughout the whole period, mostly shed antler. There was evidence of comb making.

Skinning knife marks on cat bones suggest that cats were reared for their skins.


Sources

Edward Bourke, Life in the sunny south-east - Housing and domestic economy in Viking and medieval Wexford in Archaeology Ireland, Vol 9 No 3, Autumn 1995 (The Viking Issue).

Howard B. Clarke, Proto-towns and Towns in Ireland and Britain in the Ninth and Tenth Centuries in H.B. Clarke, M. N Mhaonaigh and R. Floinn (eds), Ireland and Scandinavia in the Early Viking Age (Dublin, 1998).


Updated July 2000 by the Viking Network
IRISH CO-ORDINATOR Michael Farry.

Home Return to Viking Age in Ireland Page