An archaeological excavation in Dublin has uncovered the foundations of a 17th century theatre and a number of artefacts from theatrical performances.

The excavation, which ends today, is part of a multi-million euro programme to reinstate the Smock Alley Theatre on its original site.

For more than a century from establishment in 1662, Smock Alley - then known as Smoke Alley - put Irish theatre on the European map.

It was the first theatre in Dublin to secure a royal patent, issued following Oliver Cromwell's death, and had close ties with Covent Garden in London, with which acts were shared.

It is now being reinstated on its original site by the River Liffey in the heart of the capital, where an archaeological excavation has just been completed.

Until it closed in 1787 Smock Alley staged premiers by notable Irish playwrights, among them Richard Brinsley Sheridan and his father Thomas.

Thespians that performed at the theatre included noted Shakespearean actor David Garrick.

On Monday, Smock Alley's original foundations will be sealed and preserved.

The project to re-open the theatre will cost €8m, almost half of which has been raised by a substantial Government grant, and some philanthropic donations.