Archaeologists at Dunlavin, Wicklow

Archaeological investigations have been ongoing at Dunlavin in Co. Wicklow since November 2013 as part of the upgrading of the Sewerage Scheme. The civil works include a new Pumping Station, a new Waste Water Treatment Works and over 5km of outfall lines. The works also include the construction of a new link road and roundabout. The archaeological works include advance testing in archaeologically sensitive areas along the route as well as built heritage surveys and archaeological monitoring of the entire route. Archaeological monitoring in March along the route of a new line from the Logatryna pumping station to the Milltown Treatment Works site revealed the location of a partially destroyed brick kiln. The kiln was located along the existing railway but is more likely to be associated with the construction of 17th/18th century houses in Dunlavin as there is no brick apparent in any of the structures along the railway here and the kiln is likely to predate the construction of the railway in any event. 

Brick Kiln Dunlavin Archaeology

The rows of bricks uncovered represent the foundations of the walls of the heat tunnels which were usually arched and about 60cm in height from floor to roof. The kiln was generally closed on one side and open on the other end to allow the heat enter the tunnels from the stokepit.  No stokepit or hearth was uncovered but it was probably located to the south-east of the kiln in the area that was completely disturbed. The vitrification of the walls of the heat tunnels seen here is not unusual and is also paralleled at the Runsell Green kiln in Danbury, Essex and at Portumna, Co. Galway.

From an analysis of the plan we know that there were at least three heat tunnels. There are possibly more beyond the west baulk but this area did not require excavation. Owing to the general absence of finds from the site, the dating of the feature is problematic. The bricks themselves however are of a comparable size and nature to those found in 17th/18th century buildings in Dunlavin itself. The absence of any structure on the Ordnance Survey maps would suggest that the kiln predates 1835. The size and form of the kiln and its similarity to 17th century kilns in England and Ireland would further re-inforce a 17th to early 18th century date for the kiln. Also the form and construction of brick kilns changed dramatically towards the end of the 18th century. It is impossible on the evidence to say what the roof may have been constructed of but similar examples in England have pierced vaults through which the heat could pass from the tunnels below.