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Located towards the bottom of a gentle NW-facing slope. Ussher (1622) describes the church of Paynestowne as in ruins and the chancel poorly repaired (Erlington 1847-64, 1, lxii). According to Dopping’s Visitation (1682-5) the church and chancel, dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, were in good repair although a font was lacking, and the church was enclosed (Ellison 1971, 36). The church was described as ‘old’ by Lewis (1837, 2, 454) and its steeple had been repaired in 1823.
The church is now removed but the outline of an undivided rectangular structure (int. dims 17.3m E-W; 6.05m N-S) is traceable as fragments of walls. The base of a tower (ext. dims 6.05m N-S; 3.75m E-W; int. dims 3.8m N-S; 1.88m E-W; max. H 0.5m) with an entrance (Wth 0.8m) at W is attached to the W end of the church, and another structure (int. dims 5.15m E-W; 4.3m N-S) defined by grass-covered wall footings is attached to the W side of the tower. The church is within a graveyard, the original extent of which is not certain but there is a concentrated area of burials (dims c. 45m E-W; c. 20m N-S at E to c. 30m N-S at W) around the church within a subrectangular area (dims c. 75-110m NE-SW; c. 60m NW-SE) defined by earthen banks with trees on each side except the NE where railings separate it from a N-S public road.
Part of an octagonal sandstone font (H 0.34m) consisting of the base of the bowl (diam. 0.39m; max. surviving D 0.1m) and the chamfered under-panels with a large cylindrical mortise (diam. 2m; D 0.2m) underneath to take the stem is in the graveyard. Also in the graveyard are three sandstone pieces that combine to create the conical top of a spire (diam. of base 0.51m; total H 1.73m). Each piece is octagonal in cross-section with eight raised ribs (Wth 5cm; H 5cm), but the apex of the spire is missing. In addition eight semi-circular limestone drums (dims 0.6m x 0.3m; H 0.3m) that are faceted could be combined to create a pillar (diam. 0.6m; H 1.2m) with eight facets that might have been the base of the spire. The effigy of a woman (H 1.3m; Wth 0.46m) in a shroud that is lacking the head and upper body (Hunt 1974, 214) was moved to St. Patrick’s Church of Ireland church in Slane (ME019-023001-) where it is displayed on the S wall of the vestry.
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: 11 July 2014
Description Source: National Monuments Service, Department of Arts, Heritage Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs.