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German Supermarket Chain Lidl Builds Store On Historic Medieval Dublin Site

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

A new shop in the German supermarket chain called Lidl has opened in Dublin, Ireland, and the spot is immediately historic. It's built above the remains of a 1,000-year-old house that's now on display under a plexiglass floor in the store. Before any permits were approved for the shop, a team of archaeologists were called in to conduct an investigation.

PAUL DUFFY: I'm Paul Duffy. I am an archaeological director with the Irish Archaeological Consultancy.

SIMON: And this is business as usual for Paul Duffy and his team, who, given the area they were excavating, expected to find something more along the lines of a church. What they found instead were the remains of an 11th century house that was built by descendants of Vikings with a structure unlike any others found there.

DUFFY: The reason we found the remains of this house is that this structure had a cellar. So it was dug into the ground. And the cellar itself was lined with blocks. There were - plank flooring was put down. And the house would have been built above that. It seems to be the only house in the area that this was done for.

SIMON: The house points to a new multicultural chapter for the growing population in the area and offers clues about some of Ireland's Scandinavian ancestors. Mr. Duffy says Dubliners are excited to look below the plexiglass floor and see a glimpse of life from 10 centuries ago.

DUFFY: The amazing thing about it is it's an everyday structure. It's somewhere that people live. It's somewhere that people, you know, sat down in the evening and did a bit of craft work while they were sitting around the fire. It's a place, you know, you can imagine them laughing and joking or shedding tears over, you know, various things.

SIMON: Ireland is now under its second pandemic shutdown after a spike in coronavirus cases. And Paul Duffy reminds us that the history carved into his city is a story of resilience - an inspiration Dubliners might want to remember as they stock up again on pandemic supplies.

DUFFY: The thing that becomes clear when you're looking at these structures and the conditions that people were living in, you know, they were subject to very violent events and catastrophic plagues. But the fact that this structure has been rebuilt not once, but probably twice, it just shows that there was obviously tremendous resilience and fortitude back then. And, you know, it's something that it's obviously still in us. You know, we're the same people. We're the same people that they were.

SIMON: Paul Duffy, archaeological director with the Irish Archaeological Consultancy. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.