David Sweetman

David Sweetman - Irish ArchaeologistDavid Sweetman, MA, FSA, MRIA is the former Chief Archaeologist of Ireland. The photograph is from the Irish Archaeological Field School excavation at Bective Abbey in 2009.

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.

Danestown Ringfort (Ringwork Castle)

Danestown Ringfort

The earthwork at Danestown in the Boyne Valley has traditionally been classified as a Ringfort however the Archaeologist David Sweetman has re-classified Danestown as a Ringwork Castle. Ringforts are farmstead dwelling places of the native Irish, Ringwork Castles are Anglo-Norman fortifications dating from the late 12th century. Medieval churches are often located close to Ringwork Castles, at Danestown the ruins of a medieval church are located in a cemetery 100 metres from the earthwork.

Boyne Valley Private Day Tour

Boyne Valley Tours
Immerse yourself in the rich heritage and culture of the Boyne Valley with our full-day private tours. Visit Newgrange World Heritage site, explore the Hill of Slane, where Saint Patrick famously lit the Paschal fire. Discover the Hill of Tara, the ancient seat of power for the High Kings of Ireland. Book Now