Ardmore Round Tower

Ardmore Round Tower (1)

Today I am going to take a break from the Samhain theme and get back to some recent Ruin hunting activities. In the center of the old monastic site founded by St. Declan in Ardmore, Waterford rests a stunning Round Tower. Despite the torrential downpour during my visit, I did manage to get a couple of decent shots, so it was worth the soaking in my mind. Also within the monastic complex there is an Oratory, believed to have been built on the site of St. Declan’s final resting place, A Cathedral which I hope to share with you next week, and within this there are two Ogham stones which are rather fascinating. It is said that on a clear day there are stunning views from Ardmore looking out over the nearby bay.

Ardmore Round Tower (2)

The tower itself is in great condition, complete with conical cap. Now it is not unusual for these towers to be locked up. The only one I have managed to access is the Round Tower in Kildare town, with its unusual battlements instead of a conical cap. And Ardmore was no exception to the norm, but it is still great to see these structures standing after more than 800 years. How many modern day buildings do you think will last that long? Built sometime in the 12th century the Tower was not in use during Declan’s time at Ardmore, but it is believed to be much older than the adjacent Cathedral and was most likely associated with an earlier church which once stood here. Chances are that the Cathedral was built atop the older church.

Ardmore Round Tower (3)

Built on a base of flat rocks the tower climbs to a height of approx. 26 meters. With a plinth of cut stone, and four floors, the upper three floors are externally recessed by a string of course. This gives the tower a needle like appearance from a distance. The tower is composed of very even sandstone blocks and dressed to the curve. The only entrance to the tower is a single round arched doorway decorated by a continuous roll-moulding., which is positioned about four meters above ground level. Now we were always told that the reason for this was to prevent marauding invaders from pillaging the monasteries, and whilst there may be some truth to this fact, I seriously doubt that this the main reason for its unusual positioning. In fact if you look at the construction of these towers, placing a doorway on the ground level would have seriously weakened the structure. The fact that so many of these fine Towers are still standing would attest to this fact. The Tower has three rather small lights and has four windows, one facing each of the cardinal points. Internally, there is said to be up to sixteen corbels to support the wooden floors at each level. Five of these are said to have been carved with grotesque faces.

Ardmore Round Tower (4)

The first known account of the tower dates from 1642 when it and the nearby Castle, of which there is no trace left to be found, was occupied by Gaelic forces during a battle with the English. In the 1840’s the local landowner, a Mr. Odell and his amateur archaeologist brother carried out some conservation work on the tower, and it was at this time that floors and ladders were fitted. In 1841 the base was excavated and two skeletons were found, which might suggest that the tower may have been built on top of an earlier burial ground. During the 1860’s the capstone was said to have been damaged by musket fire and had to be replaced. The original stone was said to have been placed inside the doorway to the Cathedral, but I could find no sign of it during my visit. Perhaps it was recycled during more recent times?

Ardmore Round Tower (5)

Due to the fantastic response to the Spooktacular Challenge, I have decided to put myself under pressure and extend the deadline for submissions untill midnight on Thursday 29th. I have already started compiling the challenge and its looking great so far. If you are still interested in particiating, then get your entries in soon. You can find out all about the challenge HERE and email all entries to edmooneyphotography@gmail.com. The Weekly Capturiing History Challenge will resume tomorrow morning, so check it out.

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About edmooneyphotography

Photographer, Blogger, Ruinhunter, with an unhealthy obsession for history, mythology and the arcane.
This entry was posted in Diary of a Ruinhunter, History, Medieval, Photography, Places of Interest, Religious Sites, Round Tower and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

42 Responses to Ardmore Round Tower

  1. johanstellerphotography says:

    nice dramatic series

  2. 800 years!
    My apartment is only 10 years old and I will be amazed if it is still here in another 10!!
    Another great post Ed, you must cover some miles hunting out these ruins and thats for sure!

  3. beetleypete says:

    I like this a lot, Ed, and the photos make it look like a storm is brewing!
    The doors above ground level served lots of purposes, including helping structural solidity. (As in windmills.) They also reduced the intrusion of water into the building, and provided some defence against entry. There would have been an external staircase or ladder, of course, and that might have been drawn inside if the tower was attacked.
    There is also the consideration that delivering supplies was easier above ground level, as the carts could draw right up to the raised door, and the goods did not have to be off-loaded at ground level, and hauled inside. (Again, as with windmills.)
    Best wishes, Pete.

    • So true Pete, I guess it ser ved many purposes.
      It was a rather nasty day, plenty of rain, typical of an Irish Summer 🙂
      I did manage to get a few half descent images and recover some of the detail lost in the skies 🙂

  4. Darlene says:

    Another fascinating site. Thanks!

  5. Towers and storms go together perfectly!

    Looks like some kind of cool Irish version of Lord of The Rings… where they all just forget about the ring and the weather… and go have a pint and sing old songs down at the local pub.

    4,362,846 stars out of 10!

  6. Ali Isaac says:

    What an amazing atructure, Ed! Look forward to reading the rest of your posts about this site.

  7. milliethom says:

    I love all things historical, and this post certainly delivers on that score. We almost came into Waterford when we were in Cashel in 2002. Having just read your post, I’m sorry we didn’t make it! Your photos, with that brooding sky, are excellent.

  8. You had a most stunning sky to set off that last shot! Much better than a plain blue.

  9. noelleg44 says:

    Really fascinating structure – I assume you had to climb a ladder to get into this tower?

  10. One look at the topmost photo and I knew I was going to like this post. And I like the idea that it’s the last remnant of an old stronghold. Great work, as always. 🙂

  11. love the tower images especially the one looking up with the window!! They certainly did build them to last!! Wonderful histories as always. I’m sure there is a book in the works!

  12. Round towers were a great invention. I suppose they didn’t have to wait long for the raiders to leave if they wanted to catch the tide. I wonder how many of the villagers the monks let in with them though?

  13. aidymcglynn says:

    Great stuff Ed. The round tower – almost the quintessential Irish image.

  14. jfwknifton says:

    We once saw Ogham stones in West Cornwall, and they were really interesting, although perhaps not the best way of writing out a shopping list! We’ve seen a tower like the one featured but I genuinely can’t remember where in Ireland it was. Very atmospheric, like you’d walk round the back, and there would be an axe carrying warrior there. Really spectacular.

  15. jazzfeathers says:

    This tower is absolutely amazing!

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