The 845 Year Old Hemp Cord In Dublin City Archives

By Brian Houlihan

Henry II’s Charter from 1171/72

Pictured above is a charter issued by Henry II which dates from 1171 or 1172. Henry II (1133 – 1189) was the King Of England between 1154 and 1189 and the first Lord of Ireland from 1171 to 1189.

The cord attached to the charter, itself a fascinating artifact, is made from hemp and is almost 850 years old. This makes it one of, if not the oldest, hemp artifacts in Ireland.

The charter is a significant piece of history as it is the oldest surviving Norman document in Ireland. The charter shows the beginnings of Norman rule in Ireland which is mapped out by many of the other documents within the Dublin City Archives.

The charter was an attempt to undermine Norse (Viking) and Irish claims to the city by granting Dublin to the inhabitants of Bristol. Prior to the Norman invasion Norse and Irish rulers had been constantly fighting for control of the city.

In fact the Normans landed in Ireland in 1169 at the request of Diarmait Mac Murchada, the ousted King of Leinster, who had sought their help in regaining the region. Many of those who helped Henry II and Diarmait were from Bristol and this is partly why they were later granted Dublin in the charter.

Having an 845 year old hemp cord is one thing but having it attached to such a significant document makes it all the more fascinating.

The Dublin City Archive contains a number of collections and archives. Henry’s charter is part of the Dublin Civic Collections which features documents relating to Dublin City Council and its predecessors dating from 1171 until the late 1900's.

You can see the charter and hemp cord for yourself and many other fascinating items by visiting the Dublin City Archive which is located at144 Pearse Street, Dublin 2.

Brian Houlihan is the curator of the Dublin Hemp Museum and regularly writes about hemp. Follow him on Twitter at @dubhempmuseum and @houlihanbrian. You can also find us on Facebook.

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