OPW uncover treaure trove at Rathfarnham Castle works

OPW Minister Simon Harris and Arts Minister Heather Humphreys today announced the discovery of a unique assemblage of artefacts in Rathfarnham Castle.

The original castle at Rathfarnham dates back to the Elizabethan period (1583) and was built for Archbishop Adam Loftus, who came to Ireland as chaplain to the Lord Deputy and quickly rose to become Archbishop of Armagh and Dublin, Lord Chancellor of Ireland, First Provost and founder of Trinity College Dublin, and Queen’s Elizabeth chief envoy to Ireland.

The current works being carried out by OPW relate to the provision of a new lift and staircase in the south-west tower, new toilet facilities, and upgrading of doors and floors for fire resistance, as well as provision of ramps and steps externally to allow level access to a new entrance point.

The archaeological finds from the excavation have been removed for laboratory cleaning and analysis, and archaeologists are working with the OPW and the National Museum of Ireland to fully conserve the remarkable assemblage that includes:

  • Sets of lead crystal drinking goblets.
  • Coins dating as far back as 1602.
  • Chinese porcelain tea-sets along with perfectly-preserved tea leaves.
  • Seeds and pips from olives, melons, grapes, cherries, peaches and other exotic fruit along with shells, fish and bird bones.
  • Glass wine and spirit bottles.
  • Cromwellian armour breastplate, musket balls and gun flints.
  • Artefacts relating to 17th century costume, including jewellery, buckles, shoes etc.
  • Small ointment and cosmetic jars (possibly from Italy) and a rare folding travel toothbrush.