Round Tower of Diseart Diarmada

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Continuing on from a previous post on Castledermot we continue on from the Romanesque Archway on the grounds of St. John’s, and move on to the Round Tower. Round Towers can be found all over the country in various states of ruin. But back in their day they would have Im sure held a massive influence over the lands on which they stood. There are many of these structures to be found around the country and each one that I have visited to date always seems to have its own unique differences.  The Tower at Castledermot which is believed to have been built in the 10th Century is certainly no exception. Round Towers were commonly built on the West side of churches however here we find it lying to the North of the church.  Perhaps an earlier church from around the time of the tower once stood in a different alignment? Or is there another reason for this deviation? Some of the information about the great history and archaeology of this great site comes from the guys at Abarta Heritage. Please take a moment and check out the link at the end of this post where you can hear the story for yourself with their free audio guides.

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The other strange thing you may notice about this Tower is the fact that not only is it built very close to the current church, or should I say that the church was built very close to the tower as the Tower was constructed long before its neighbour. Another irregularity is that the doorway seems to have been built at ground level unlike others where the entrance doorway would be located a couple of meters above the ground, and it was believed this was to afford the people inside some degree of projection. But this is now highly debated. Then we have the tower which is connected to the nave of the church by a small corridor, on the day I visited the church was closed so I was unable to have a look on the inside. Im sure that there are reasonable explanations for all these facts. Perhaps on my next visit to Castledermot I may find the answers!

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The Tower itself is only about 20 meters in height so it is not as visibly impressive as say Glendalough or Kildare. But Castledermot is a treasure trove of interesting ruins and history, so and this tower is a part of that heritage. At some stage I can only assume that the conical roof, a standard feature of many of these towers was removed and replaced with battlements. Not a common feature, but there are a few of these around the country, such as the one at St. Brigid’s in Kildare. It was built using uncoursed granite with limestone pinning’s. It has five floors  with medieval era crenellations above two string courses, but the  floors do not correspond to the original levels. The entrance is strangely at ground level through a flat lintelled doorway. I was unable to see any sign of a doorway at height, so perhaps it never had one or the brickwork was matched carefully to the original. There is an arched window on the first floor, and a flat headed window between the second and third floors. The windows at the top, and the crenellations date from the sixteenth century. It is joined to the church by a vaulted corridor with wicker centring, of fifteenth century type. The tower itself appears to be in good repair and I will be definitely returning here to see if I can gain access to the inside and see what else I can find.

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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, Photography, Round Tower and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

53 Responses to Round Tower of Diseart Diarmada

  1. Cave_Guy says:

    That is wild – looks like it is leaning into the church – Great photos!

  2. Bekka King says:

    I look forward to your posts. Informative and interesting.

  3. Ali Isaac says:

    Hi Ed. I’ve never heard of a round tower having a ground floor doorway! How unusual. I always thought they were so high up to keep out murrauders, but you say that’s debateable now… have you got any more info on that? Very intriguing!

    • It is quite unusual Ali, the only one I know of was at Timahoe, where they put a door in to store fuel, but this was a later addition. The best explaination for the door being situated so high is related to structural integrety. Im no construction expert but it makes sence thata a door on the ground level would seriously weaken the base of the tower. Most likely causing it to collapse. If you look at how these towers were built, A strong wide base, which gradually tapers in towards the top. They are magnificent peices of work 🙂

  4. Gorgeous as always. I introduced you site to someone today who has never seen it. They are now a fan of yours!

    • WOW, thanks a mill Dan, its always a great buzz when people like what I am doing. I took your advise and went without the filter on these ones. Starting to get the hang of it, but still a work in progress 🙂

      • See? People think these filter-less ones are gorgeous too! You are great at both, and thus by expanding your palette to include filter-less shots, you are growing as an artist.. AND potentially expanding your fan base as new fans flock to both. Expanded fan base = views, and potential KickStarter/GoFundMe sponsors for the book!!

        You expanded for artistic reasons first, like any good artist SHOULD; for art’s sake and not for personal gain. Now, you will reap both aesthetic and hopefully financial benefits that make the book possible.

        We all win… now… and when that book comes out!

        • Thanks Daniel. Your support and encouragement is deeply appreciated. I do have a little something in the pipeline hopefully for this year, it’s not a book, if everything goes according to plan will be a fantastic opportunity. Its still in the early stages so I can’t say too much yet, but fingers crossed, I should have some good news soon 🙂

  5. Your posts don’t only contain beautiful pictures; they are highly educational too. Who would you seek access from if you were to enter the tower? I’ll love to know what’s within the walls…

  6. belshade says:

    Another informative post on a challenging structure and great photos. If there was an original door higher up the walls it could have been filled in more recently when no longer needed for safety. One perennial question is – do the lower interior wall surfaces show evidence of “vitrification”? (glazing of the interior stone surfaces by exposure to very high temperatures).Des.

    • Thanks a mill Des, that is true, but I could see no sign of the door being filled in. Usually you can almost make out the door by the difference in the stonework.
      Im interested in your vitrification question. I did’nt get to see inside the tower, so I cant really say. Have you come across this in similar structures?

  7. belshade says:

    Archaeologists have commented from time to time on this feature of round towers. A possible explanation could be fire destroying the internal wooden fittings such as floors and stairs in an attack by raiders, with maximum heat at the base as timbers fell from above. I have only seen evidence of it once. It may be found most often in the oldest structures – possibly pre-Christian in origin, reconstructed as defence structures in Christian times. A similar effect has been commented on in Scottish Brochs and Sicilian Nuraghi, also enigmatic structures. Des.

    • Cool, I wondered how where the heat sourse may have come from. Many of these towers have no access. The only one I have gained entry into is St. Brigid’s in Kildare. I will certainly keep an eye out for this, most interesting 🙂

  8. I wonder how far into the ground the base of the tower goes, Ed? Could the earth have been banked up around it when the church was built, bringing a higher door down to ground level? Very interesting post and as usual, fab photos.

    • Very good point Jean, and a reasonable explanation. Too be honest, I just cant say for sure. Any of the archeological records I have seen dont say much about it. If this was the case then it could perhaps be one of the tallest in the country!

  9. adeleulnais says:

    Fascinating history and wonderful pics. I love Glendalough but for the life of me, can`t remember the round tower. Where is it in relation please?

    • WOW, really? Its quite hard to miss 🙂 But if you enter the city through the arched gateway its on your right at the rear of the graveyard. I would give my right arm to get inside and take some shots from the top 🙂

  10. Very interesting…..we don’t really have towers like these….I think there are a grand total of 2 in the whole of Scotland. They somehow look quite magical to me….although a prices might appear at the window and let down her long hair!😊

  11. Incredible that it was built so long ago and doesn’t look ravaged by the days and years that have past. Didn’t this feature (or at least the gate) in a post a couple of weeks ago?

  12. Great photos. I can almost feel the texture of the stone on the tower.

  13. beetleypete says:

    This got me thinking about the similarity to tower windmills. (Like the local one, where I am a volunteer) They have ground-floor doors, which were mainly used to access storage areas. The first-floor doors were to enable heavy loads to be lifted in and out of carts, without the need for cranes or winches. Because of the thickness of the walls, structural integrity of ground-floor doors was rarely an issue.
    Great stuff as always, Ed.
    Best wishes, Pete.

  14. Fascinating discussion and love the images!

  15. great shots Ed! I hope you gain access!

  16. Lipsa Das says:

    Great photographs Ed! really enjoyed them 🙂

  17. Andy Smart says:

    Really interesting and as usual great shots. I do envy your adventures

  18. Thanks for Information

  19. chattykerry says:

    That’s a fantastic black and white shot – it shows all the different textures so well. Curiously, we don’t have many round towers in Scotland. I wonder if it is a practical reason – most buildings are made of granite or sandstone rather than bricks.

  20. M.N. Stroh says:

    Absolutely fascinating! I’ve studied round towers a bit in my research on 10th century Ireland. But I hadn’t come across the fact that the towers were usually built to the west of the church. That’s interesting. I did read that the doorways were constructed up high for the protection of individuals, relics and such from raiders. Several passages in the annals talk about the foreigners (referencing Vikings) burning the towers, and thus killing the clergy who took sanctuary in them – the towers, unfortunately, having a chimney-like effect. They never elaborate on how this was done, but one can imagine a few possible ways. They were pretty inventive.

  21. jazzfeathers says:

    Beautiful place. Towers are fascinating 🙂

  22. Evelyn says:

    Hi Ed ! Fantastic photos as always. The first comment mentions that the tower appears to be leaning but to me it’s the church which appears to have been raised on the opposite side. I read a book by Bill Bryson back in the summertime- At Home- and in the first chapter he relates how someone told him that the reason why churchyard get to look so much like they’re ‘eating up the church’ is because of the amount of burials which tend to make the earth rise ! I was amazed. So don’t discount that in this case. The late date of the crenellation on this tower doesn’t surprise me either since every single such set of battlements has to be approved by the crown you know.
    Fantastic post ! The Castle Lady

  23. wildninja says:

    Eddie, I miss your posts. Must be a busy year. Hope all is well.

  24. beetleypete says:

    Thanks for the recent ‘like’, Ed. Great to see you back. I was getting worried!
    Best wishes, Pete.

  25. Rowena says:

    Ed, you’re photos are incredibly stunning and almost haunting. I wouldn’t want to be there after dark. xx Rowena

  26. Sue Vincent says:

    Another blog from which I have been unsubscribed behind my back…thought you’d been awfully quiet, Ed!

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