The dead beneath the floor: The use of space for burial in the Dominican Blackfriary, Trim, Co. Meath, Ireland

Emma Lagan1,2

1 M.A. student in Human Skeletal Biology, New York University
2 Irish Archaeological Field School

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Dig It: The Journal of the Flinders Archaeological Society
Volume 2, Issue 1, June 2014

Print: ISSN 1440-2475
Online: ISSN 2203-1898


This paper examines the results of archaeological excavations within Irish Dominican Priories, specifically evidence for burial practice. It focuses on the use of space for burial within the Medieval Dominican Blackfriary in Trim, Co. Meath, using preliminary data accumulated over four field seasons (2010–2013), excavated by the Irish Archaeological Field School (IAFS).

Sixty-six burials have been identified at Blackfriary in the nave and cloisters of the church. Within a relatively confined area of the nave, two apparently discreet zones of use have been identified, characterized by varying burial patterns. To the west, burials consist of fully articulated, extended inhumations moderately spaced out. Less than a meter to the east, fully articulated extended inhumations are tightly packed, overlapping, and overlain by a dense deposit (30–50cm) of disarticulated human bone. This paper examines the skeletal remains in the context of their location and associations, considering the location of the burial in relation to the friaries layout, evidence of standing structures, and other burials. Data from other Dominican friaries is used as a comparison. Finally, the paper discusses contemporary social contexts which may explain the variations observed.


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