Belfast, new excavations confirm it: it’s a city of ancient tanneries

Le antiche concerie di Belfast

Belfast may have developed around a tannery. It was revealed by a series of excavations carried out in the historic centre of the capital of Northern Ireland. Details are explained by the Unearthed report, published by the Department for Communities Historic Environment Division (HED) and related to the interventions carried out between 2015 and 2018.

Royal Exchange redevelopment

Excavations carried out in the heart of the Northern Irish capital, the former Royal Exchange, are linked to a redevelopment project in the historic centre. They have unearthed 15 small tanks where, it is to believe, leathers were tanned. The tanks are nothing more than small wells whose walls are covered with wooden planks, joined together by a series of wooden dowels. According to experts, the tannery dates back to the 18th century.

A novelty, kind of

However, Belfast is not new to similar findings. At the beginning of the new millennium, a construction site was opened in the historic centre of the city to build a multi-story car park. During excavations other remains of a leather processing site emerged. It was the Williamson brothers’ tannery, active from 1880 until the early 1900s. For this reason, the car park is now known as Tannery Park. The Waring Street Merchant Hotel also stands on the remains of an ancient tannery. The hotel occupies the land once owned by the tanning entrepreneur William Waring where, in the 17th century, was his tannery.

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