An interesting project is about to commence in Co. Clare which will investigate a potential mass grave associated with the Spanish Armada of 1588. In July, a team of archaeologists from Rubicon Heritage Services will conduct a geophysical survey of a site at Spanish Point that is thought to contain burials related to two Spanish Armada ships, the San Marcos and San Esteban.
It is hoped that this non-invasive survey will determine whether a mass burial did actually occur at Spanish Point. It forms part of the San Marcos Project, a multi-disciplinary initiative, involving members of the local community, that is currently investigating the archaeology and history of these two Spanish Armada vessels.
Representing the pride of the Spanish Navy, the San Esteban and San Marcos ships sank during a violent storm on the 20th of September 1588, with the loss of over 700 men (both sailors and soldiers). They had been attempting to return to Spain, via the west coast of Ireland, after a disastrous encounter with the English Navy.
Roughly 60 survivors from the two ill-fated ships made it ashore, where they were promptly captured by Boetius Clancy, High Sheriff of Clare. The Spanish sailors were shown little mercy and after a short imprisonment were hanged on a nearby hill. Their remains were subsequently buried in a mass grave on Spanish Point, the suspected site of which is now being investigated by Rubicon Heritage Services. I can’t wait to see the results of their work.