THE MEDIEVAL VILLAGE

Throughout the castle’s history, the village of Rathdown developed to the north and west.( the location was unlocked by chance in the 18th century, when the remains of a paved street were unearthed during the draining of a field). The village, with its 20 messuages (small house plots), had been a hub of activity, which potentially included overseas trading.

“These were the residences of the burghers, the wealthier citizens of Rathdown. As the structures of these houses seem to have survived into the 18th century, it appears likely that they were built of stone, partially at least. Each residence would have been home to a family, old and young, perhaps fifteen or more in number. To the north of the castle are the outlines of what may well have been large communal houses.

The peasants lived in impermanent structures in the locality, and nothing is known or remains of these. In all, the population of Rathdown at its height in the medieval period is likely to have been a minimum of 500 souls.

The community was one of considerable wealth. This is substantiated not only by the size of the Rathdown Hoard and other coins, but also by  their stock of cattle. Cattle were a valuable commodity in the Middle Ages, so it is not surprising that Rathdown was raided several times by neighbouring Irish clans.”(Smal, 1993).

 

Smal, Chris (1993) Ancient Rathdown and St. Crispin’s Cell, A uniquely historic landscape. Friends of Historic Rathdown, Greystones.

 

Life in a medieval village, James Bartetr, Lucent Books, San Diego, 2003,page 12
Native Irish clothing, fifteenth century.
A Short History of Ireland for schools, reading circles and general readers, Charles Johnston, Carita Spencer, Houghton Mufflin &Co., Boston, 1905, page 136.
Pottery of Jackfield ware type. Black glaze still visibly lustrous. Very fine purple-grey fabric. This type of Jackfield ware was usually used for tea or coffee pots. Pottery sherd of Jackfield ware type. Black glaze still visibly lustrous, very fine purple-grey fabric, This type of Jackfield ware was typically used for tea or coffee pots.
Courtesy of National Museum of Ireland
Aother fragment of Jackfield ware, again from Rathdown, probably from a tea or coffee pot.
Courtesy of National Museum of Ireland
Unglazed ceramic found at Rathdown - spout or rim and neck portion of a red earthenware teapot, jar or bottle.
Courtesy of National Museum of Ireland
Glazed red earthenware shard from Rathdown. Pale orange-brown glaze. visible on interior face only. Possibly North Devon gravel-free ware.
Courtesy of National Museum of Ireland
Lead weight, Rathdown.
Courtesy of National Museum of Ireland
From a drawing by Albrent Durer, Ireland from AD 800 to AD 1600, John Ryan, 1927, Browne and Nolan, Dublin, Page 164.
German Hans Krauwinkle II rose orb jetton, dated1585-1635 AD found at Rathdown. Probably from Nuremberg. Jettons were originally used for accountancy. By the 16th century used more as gaming counters, not unlike modern-day poker chips.
Courtesy of National Museum of Ireland
Reverse view
Courtesy of National Museum of Ireland

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