Council take a closer look at parch marks as historical plot thickens

By Mary Dennehy

THE historical plot thickens this week in relation to parch marks that have appeared on Aylesbury Park.

As previously reported by The Echo, the St Martin’s Residents Association recently reached out to local politicians after the dry weather revealed what they believed could be a “historic gem” on the park in Aylesbury.

Aylesbury Field 01 compressor

The markings on the pitch in Aylesbury Park

Aerial images of the park were showing parch marks, which appear in dry weather in parched fields – sometimes revealing sub-surface features or archaeological sites not visible from the ground.

After viewing aerial images of Aylesbury Park, residents queried if the parch marks, which are located at the Tymon Bawn Community-end of the field, were revealing the buried history of Old Bawn House.

Old Bawn House was built in 1635, with a mantel piece and staircase from the Tudor-style house held in the National Museum of Ireland.

Local politicians raised the presence of parch marks with South Dublin County Council and the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.

In a reply to Fine Gael TD Colm Brophy, the Office of the Chief Archaeologist thanked residents for informing them of the recent parch marks – stating that they were now “in a position to correct the location” of the buried remains of Old Bawn House on their digital maps.

However, South Dublin County Council has since carried out a “brief investigation” and believes that the parch marks are not linked with Old Bawn House.

In a comment to The Echo, a council spokesperson said: “SDCC has carried out a brief investigation on the old ruins in Aylesbury Park.

“The location refers to Aylesbury Park so the outline is likely not Old Bawn House, which was further east on the historic maps.

“SDCC have checked on site and there are no structures appearing above ground; it would appear to be an outline of the old building appearing as a dry section of grass.

“The historic map viewer on OSI.ie, the Historic 6” last edition, names this structure as part of a complex named Park House.

“On earlier editions of historic maps it was referred to as a paper mill.”

The council added: “SDCC can confirm there is no structure above ground therefore does not come under architectural conservation. 

“The images and the outline on the ground shown on the OS maps indicates markings possibly from the foundation of a former structure, which are not associated with Old Bawn House as referred to by local residents in comparing the site on the historic maps. 

“This can only be identified as a local heritage feature and may be of interest to National Monuments.”

According to the council, it is the role of National Monuments to assess and designate items as being of either ‘Archaeological potential’ or for inclusion as a ‘Recorded Structure’.

“If they take that decision then they would notify the council of this and we would include their decision in the next iteration of our County Development Plan”, the council spokesperson said.

Levelled in 1976, Old Bawn House has been revived for a whole new generation, as members of the community seek to learn about the history of the land they now live on.

If further investigations confirm it is Old Bawn House, Park House or another structure, what is positive is that local history is being brought back to life.

Speaking with The Echo, Deputy Brophy said: “The council should work with local historians, the community really wants to know what this is.

“I hope South Dublin doesn’t just do a brief investigation, we need to track down this heritage.”

Believing the council needs to come back with a “definitive answer”, Deputy Brophy said: “I really do think this is something we shouldn’t ignore.

“If it’s not Old Bawn House, what is the history behind this other building.

“I look forward to the council carrying out an investigation and giving us an update.”

For further information on Old Bawn House visit South Dublin Libraries Local Studies blog or www.archaology.ie

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