Outing to the Black Friary, Trim, Co. Meath

An extra event of the Society was the visit to the archaeological excavation at the Black Friary, Trim, on Wednesday 19 August. Luckily, after much rain in the morning, the day cleared up for our afternoon visit.

A Dominican friary was founded here on the northern edge of the medieval town of Trim by the Lord of Meath, Geoffrey de Geneville, in 1263. Accounts from the time of the suppression of the monasteries under Henry VIII tell us that the buildings of the friary, an orchard, garden and cemetery extended over four acres. Around 1750 the buildings were demolished for their stone, with the result that the site survives as a large field with a few displaced chunks of masonry and humps and hollows in the ground, that betray the plan of the church, cloister and claustral buildings.

An excavation project has been in progress each summer for a number of years and we were fortunate to have the director of the excavation, Finola O’Carroll, to explain the history of the site and give us a guided tour of the excavation. In cuttings opened as part of the project parts of the nave and nave-aisle of the church, the cloister and the chapter house have been uncovered. Many burials were found within the nave. Cuttings revealed a large cloister garth, 80 foot square, and the base of the cloister arcade wall. A very interesting discovery here was that of carved stones from the cloister arcade, which were all of Purbeck Marble from Dorset in England.

After seeing the site we were able to view some of the finds on tables including carved stones of Purbeck Marble from the cloister arcade. Other finds included pottery, floor tiles and bone combs. Of particular interest were pieces of stained and painted glass from the windows of the church.

We were all very impressed with the site and the project and the President thanked Finola for a very informative and interesting tour.