Excavations continue at Mellifont

Archaeologists from ACS continue their excavations in the cloister at Mellifont Abbey. Features exposed to date include the elaborate drainage or water management system which is currently being excavated and recorded. The remains of the later mill have also been exposed and a burial in the east ambulatory is due for excavation. Mellifont Abbey was founded by St Malachy in 1142 and was the first Cistercian abbey to be built in Ireland. The abbey is located on the banks of the river Mattock, a tributary of the Boyne some 7 miles from Drogheda. The abbey imported it's formal style of architecture from the abbeys of the same order in Europe. It was founded, or endowed, by Donough O'Carroll, prince of Oirgiallach, the present Oriel in 1142 AD at the solicitation of St. Malachy, archbishop of Armagh. The abbey was consecrated in 1157 and from this humble beginnings the Cistercian community spread out throughout Ireland founding other abbeys throughout the country with Mellifont being the model on which these abbeys were based.


The most significant remains at Mellifont Abbey are the chapter house, the Lavabo where the monks would have washed their hands before meals and the impressive Gateway. The other parts of the Abbey are gone but small walls remain making it possible to make out how the Abbey would have looked.

The site was excavated in the 1950s by Liam de Paor and the results published in the proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy. The present phase of excavations are concentrated in the ambulatories (cloister walk) on all four sides of the cloister and the area to the west and north of the abbey buildings. During de Paors excavations, the medieval drainage system was exposed along the west ambulatory. The present phase of excavations have exposed the full extent of the drainage system on all four sides and has shown them all to be interconnected. Work will continue at the site for a number of weeks.