Monday, November 02, 2009

Dublin's Viking Wall can now be seen

Dublin’s 900-year-old Viking city wall has been put on public view for the first time at the city council's civic offices on the Southside.

The wall was discovered during excavations of the site in the late 1970s and early 1980s in preparation for the construction of the new Dublin Corporation, now Dublin City Council, buildings.

After it was discovered, the wall was going to be dismantled and stored in another site, but large scale public protests forced city officials to cancel that plan. For the next thirty years, the site was kept hidden from the public and used for storage.

Last month, the wall was opened up for the general public as part of an exhibition called My City Exhibition, which showcases Dublin's development and future plans.

Measuring just under 20 metres in length and 4.3 metres in height, the section of wall is now visible through a glass viewing platform, with each stone bearing the identifying number painted on when it had been due for demolition.

Charles Duggan, Heritage Officer at Dublin City Council, explained the extent of the detailed and painstaking conservation work that has gone into preserving the wall. “In 2007 we began looking at the site of the city walls in Wood Quay and we decided our first step would be to carry out the conservation works,” he said.

“We carried out a survey of all above ground remains of the city wall. That was key to bringing forward our ambition to conserve the stretch of the city wall that still exists.”

Mr Duggan explained that conservationists in the council wanted to ensure that the integrity of the wall itself was kept intact and that by leaving the markings and numberings on the stones the structure's more recent history would also be recorded.

“We were absolutely adamant that we wanted to maintain the existing condition of the wall so I would describe the work as much as necessary but as little as possible.

“We have done very gentle cleaning of the wall by using an archaeologist’s brush. We decided that in preserving the wall in the Wood Quay venue we would keep the underpinnings and the markings that were put there in the 1970s.

“They were put there when the wall was going to be demolished but thankfully that decision was eventually reversed,” he further explained. “We decided that we should leave them there because we have to be honest about recent history affecting the Wood Quay site.

“From the amphitheatre section of the civic offices park where the operas are held every August you can walk onto a viewing platform and the public will be able to overlook the city wall,” he added.