The Big Dig at Caherduggan Castle: Week 2

Our second week in Caherduggan was spent cleaning and recording a number of very large foundations which we believe are part of a castle or tower house that stood on the site during the medieval period around 500 years ago. Our first job was to clean back the walls using trowels and brushes.

Cleaning the Castle Walls

Cleaning the Castle Walls

Once we could clearly see the walls we then needed to draw all of them in order to make a record of how they looked. When archaeologists draw things they sometimes refer to that job as planning.

Planning the Castle Walls

Planning the Castle Walls

We also took photographs of the walls which will also provide a record of what they looked like. To do this we used a remote control helicopter.

Photographing the Castle from the air with a remote control helicopter

Photographing the Castle from the air with a remote control helicopter

When the planning was complete we could see from our drawings that the castle was built on a rectangular plan and was 12.5 m long by  8.5 m wide. The walls were approximately 2 m thick and very well built. While cleaning we found small pieces of window glass and fragments of lead which were used for holding the glass in windows. This tells us that the castle had glass windows. We also think we found part of the stairs in one of the walls and a gap which we believe was the doorway or entrance.

Plan of the Castle

Plan of the Castle

We believe this building was a tower house. This is a type of castle which would have been the house of an important person, possibly an Anglo-Norman lord. Originally it would have stood three of four storeys high. As part of our work we have also looked at old documents which can tell us about some of the people who may have lived in the tower. From these we know that a family called Synons may have built the first castle here and that the castle became the property of the Roches at a later stage.

Castledonovan Castle, Co. Cork- what our tower house may have looked like in the pas

Castledonovan Castle, Co. Cork- what our tower house may have looked like in the past

The tower or castle was surrounded by a big ditch or moat and we will be excavating this over the next couple of weeks. Stay tuned to see how we get on!

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  1. The Big Dig at Caherduggan Castle: Week 3 | Headlines - November 18, 2011

    […] was spent excavating sections across a large ditch or moat which surrounded the tower described in last weeks post. We could see this once we removed the topsoil as a dark line of soil which stretched across the […]

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