Sweetman, MA, FSA, MRIA is the former Chief Archaeologist of Ireland. The photograph is from the Irish Archaeological Field School excavation
at Bective Abbey
When David was with the Office of Public Works in 1982, there was a
significant discovery at Newgrange. A Beaker House alongside a crematorium and
burial ground were discovered about 100 yards from the passage grave.
David is author of 'The Medieval Castles of Ireland'.
Blarney Castle, Bunratty Castle and Dublin Castle are three of the most recognisable
and well-known castles in Ireland but how many of us really know why and how they
were built and who lived in them? There are many castles dotted throughout Ireland
and each one has its own story to tell, its own history to reveal.
The conquest of Ireland by the Anglo-Normans brought dramatic changes to the Irish landscape.
Prior to 1169 castles were not a common architectural feature. The Irish relied on
their natural surroundings bogs and woods for protection from marauding forces
unlike the conquering Normans who developed strongholds as a means of defence.
Annals from that time indicate that the country was full of foreigners and castles.
Initial fortifications were made of earth and timber and later of stone. However,
not all castles were built for military purposes. Many were constructed for long-term
occupation. David Sweetman looks at the six main fortification types built in Ireland
from 1169 onwards: Timber and earthwork castles, large stone fortresses, hall-houses,
later medieval fortresses, tower and fortified houses, and stronghouses. The Medieval
Castles of Ireland is liberally illustrated throughout with photographs, plans and reconstruction drawings.