The foundation of a priory of Knights Hospitallers of St. John has been attributed to Walter de Lacy in the late 12th century (O’Connell 1957, 20-1; 1960, 17-18), but the Hospital of St. John the Baptist at Kells was a house of the Fratres Cruciferi or Crutched Friars (Gwynn and Hadcock 1970, 213). This house is easily confused with the Hospitallers’ grange at Kilmainhambeg, now Kilmainhamwood (ME005-028----). At its suppression in 1540 only the church of St. John was extant, the other buildings having been thrown down, but there was 74 acres of demesne including a water-mill, and other properties around Kells (White 1943, 264-5). It was situated outside the town on the Dublin road, at the bottom of the E-facing slope. There are no visible remains of a church in a rectangular graveyard (dims c. 45m E-W; c. 30m N-S) defined by masonry walls. There is a cross-slab, a 13th-century effigy of a woman, and a large fragment of a graveslab in the graveyard. Archaeological monitoring (02E1244) of the construction of a new wall at the S and W of the graveyard demonstrated that the wall was built on bedrock (D c. 0.6m) at S (Meenan 2004). A full survey of the graveyard inscriptions has been undertaken (Mc Cabe 2007).
The above description is derived from the published 'Archaeological Inventory of County Meath' (Dublin: Stationery Office, 1987). In certain instances the entries have been revised and updated in the light of recent research.
Compiled by: Michael Moore
Date of upload/revision: 2 July 2014Description Source: National Monuments Service, Department of Arts, Heritage Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs.