Page images

At many sites in Ireland where the Normans are known to have built castles at an early period of the invasion there are no mottes to be seen now. It is probable that where the Norman conquerors had both money and time at their disposal they built stone keeps from the first, and that the motte-castles, with their wooden towers or bretasches, were built in the times of stress, or were the residences of the less wealthy undertenants. But we know from documents that even in John's reign the important royal castle of Roscrea was built with a motte and bretasche,' which proves that this type of castle was still so much esteemed that we may feel reasonably certain that when Giraldus speaks of "slender defences of turf and stakes" he does not motte - castles, but mere embankments and



But there is another reason for the absence of mottes from some of the early Norman castle sites. Those who have examined the castles of Wales know that it is rare to find a motte in a castle which has undergone the complete metamorphoses of the Edwardian period. These new castles had no keeps, and necessitated an entire change of plan, which led either to the destruction of the motte or the building of an entirely new castle on a different site. The removal of a motte is only a question of spade labour, and many

1 Sweetman's Calendar of Documents relating to Ireland, i., 412.

2 That a motte-castle of earth and wood seemed to Giraldus quite an adequate castle is proved by the fact that numbers of the castles which he mentions have never had any stone defences. It may be a mere coincidence, but it is worth noting, that there are no mottes now at any of the places which Giraldus mentions as exilia municipia, Pembroke, Dundunnolf, Down City, and Carrick.

3 This word must not be understood to mean that this new type of castle was Edward's invention, nor even that he was the first to introduce it into Europe from Palestine; it was used by the Hohenstauffen emperors as early as 1224. See Köhler, Entwickelung des Kriegswesen, iii., 475.



sites in England can be pointed out where mottes are known to have existed formerly, but where now not a vestige is left.1 There are many other cases where the Edwardian castle shows not a trace of any former earthworks, but where a motte and bailey a little distance off probably represents the original wooden castle.2

The passion for identifying existing earthworks with sites 'mentioned in ancient Irish history or legend has been a most serious hindrance to the progress of real archæological knowledge in Ireland. It is not until one begins to look into this matter that one finds out what giddy guesswork most of these identifications of Irish place-names really are. O'Donovan was undoubtedly a great Irish scholar, and his editions of the Book of Rights and the Annals of the Four Masters are of the highest importance. The topographical notes to these works are generally accepted as final. But let us see what his method was in this part of his labours. In the Book of Rights, he says very naïvely, about a place called Ladhrann or Ardladhrann, "I cannot find any place in Wexford according with the notices of this place except Ardamine, on the sea-coast, where there is a remarkable moat." No modern philologist, we think, would admit that Ardamine could be descended from Ardladhrann. In the same way O'Donovan guessed Treada-na-righ, "the triple-fossed fort of the kings," to be the motte of Kilfinnane, near Kilmallock. But this was a pure guess, as he had previously guessed it to be "one of the forts called Dun-g-Claire." To the antiquaries of that day one earthwork seemed as good as

1 Newcastle, Worcester, Gloucester, and Bristol are instances. 2 Rhuddlan is an instance of this.

Book of Rights, p. 203.

another, and differences of type were not considered important.1

The following list of early Norman castles in Ireland was first published in the Antiquary for 1906. It is an attempt to form a complete list from contemporary historians only, that is, from Giraldus Cambrensis and the "Song of Dermot," and from the documents published in Sweetman's Calendar, of the Norman castles built in Ireland, up to the end of John's reign. Since then, the task has been taken up on a far more philosophical plan by Mr Goddard H. Orpen, whose exceptional knowledge of the history of the invasion and the families of the conquerors has enabled him to trace their settlements in Ireland as they have never been traced before. Nevertheless, it still seems worth while to republish this list, as though within a limited compass, consistent with the writer's limited knowledge, it furnishes an adequate test of the correctness of the Norman theory, on a perfectly sound basis. The list has now the advantage of being corrected from Mr Orpen's papers, and of being enlarged by identifications which he has been able to make."

It must be admitted that in the most recent and most learned edition of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle the topographical identifications are quite on a level with O'Donovan's.

2 The Annals have not been used, partly because in their present form they are not contemporary, and partly because the difficulties of identifying many of the castles they mention appeared insuperable.

See especially two papers on "Motes and Norman Castles in Ireland," in English Historical Review, vol. xxii., pp. 228, 240. Mr Orpen has further enriched this subject by a number of papers in the Journ. R. S. A. I., to which reference will be made subsequently.

4 The only castles still unidentified are Aq'i, Kilmehal, Rokerel, and Inchleder.

[blocks in formation]

*ANTRIM1 (Cal., i., 88).—A royal castle in 1251. Present castle modern; close to it is a large motte, marked in 25-inch O.M.

Aq'I (Cal., i., 13).—Unidentified; perhaps an alias for one of the Limerick castles, as it was certainly in the county of Limerick.

ARDFINNAN, Tipperary (Gir., v., 386).—Built in 1185, immediately after John's coming to Ireland. No motte; castle is late Edwardian and partly converted into a modern house; one round tower has one round tower has ogee windows. [B. T. S.]

ARDMAYLE, OF ARMOLEN, Tipperary (Cal., i., 81).—A castle of Theobald Walter. A motte with half-moon bailey, and earthen wing walls running up its sides, exactly as stone walls do in later Norman castles. Ruins of a Perpendicular mansion close to it, and also a square tower with ogee windows. [B. T. S.] Fig. 45.

ARDNURCHER, or HORSELEAP, King's Co. (Song of Dermot and Cal., i., 145).—A castle of Meiler Fitz Henry's, built in 1192.2 An oblong motte with one certain bailey, and perhaps a second. No masonry but the remains of a wall or bridge across the fosse. [B. T. S.]

ARDREE, Kildare (Gir., v., 356, and Song).—The castle built by Hugh de Lacy for Thomas the Fleming in 1182, was at Ardri, on the Barrow. There is an artificial mound at Ardree, turned into a graveyard, and near it a levelled platform above the river, on which stands Ardree House. On the west bank of the

It should be stated that the great majority of the castles in this list have been visited for the writer by Mr Basil T. Stallybrass, who has a large acquaintance with English earthworks, as well as a competent knowledge of the history of architecture. The rest have been visited by the writer herself, except in a few cases where the information given in Lewis's Topographical Dictionary or other sources was sufficient. The castles personally visited are initialled.

2 Annals of Loch Cè.

3 Orpen, Eng. Hist. Rev., xxii., 249.

Barrow, opposite Ardree, is a low circular motte with ditch and bank, but no bailey. A piece of Norman pottery with green glaze was found by Mr Stallybrass, one foot below the surface in the counterscarp bank. Mr Orpen thinks this motte may have been the castle of Robert de Bigarz, also mentioned by Giraldus as near Ardree, on the opposite side of the Barrow.

ASKEATON, or HINNESKESTI, Limerick.-Built in 1199, probably by Hamo de Valoignes. An excellent instance of a motte-and-bailey castle, where the motte is of natural rock. The splendid keep and hall are of the 15th century, but there are two older towers, which might date from 1199. This natural motte has been identified with the ancient Irish fort of Gephthine (Askeaton = Eas Gephthine), mentioned in the Book of Rights. But this work does not mention any fort at Gephthine, only the place, in a list which is clearly one of lands (perhaps mensal lands), not of forts, as it contains many names of plains, and of tribes, as well as the three isles of Arran.2

*ASKELON, or ESCLUEN (Cal., i., 91).— Castle restored to Richard de Burgh in 1215; the site is placed by Mr Orpen at Carrigogunell, which is in the parish of Kilkeedy, Limerick. Carrigogunell has the ruins of a castle on a natural motte of rock.


Orpen, Eng. Hist. Rev., xxii., 450, citing from MS. Annals of Innisfallen.

2 The poetical list enumerates the places which were "of the right of Cashel in its power." The prose version, which may be assumed to be later, is entitled "Do phortaibh righ Caisil," which O'Donovan translates "of the seats of the king of Cashel." But can one small king have had sixtyone different abodes? Professor Bury says "The Book of Rights still awaits a critical investigation." Life of St Patrick, p. 69.

3 Ibid., p. 449. See Westropp, Trans. R. I. A., xxvi. (c), p. 146. Mr Orpen informs me that the Black Book of Limerick contains a charter of William de Burgo which mentions "Ecclesia de Escluana alias Kilkyde." No. CXXXV.

« PreviousContinue »