In 2014 Rubicon Heritage were commissioned by Cork County Council to undertake an audit of heritage assets owned by the County Council. The audit was intended to assess a wide variety of these properties by providing an overall background/description of the selected sites and identifying the main heritage characteristics and status/functionality of each. We have compiled a series of blogs based on the information gathered during the audit to highlight a number of the selected sites and the amazing archaeology in County Cork. Our next site in this series is Rosslague Martello Tower.
Rosslague Martello tower is located on the north shoreline of Great Island on a highpoint of Rosslague promontory. Constructed in 1813, it is part of the second wave of tower building that took place between 1810 and 1815 (the initial Irish towers having been built between 1804 and 1806) and which ultimately saw c.50 towers constructed around the country.
It is described in the archaeological inventory as a well-preserved circular tower 15.3m in diameter with a flattened profile to the north-east and south-west. The building is faced on the
outside with coursed limestone ashlar and on the inside with brick. The door is at first floor level on the southern side, with a spiral staircase on the east site of the doorway giving access to the ground floor and roof. The room to the north-west was the magazine and has a brick barrel-vault over it. There is a wooden floor at first floor level and this level is divided into two compartments by a brick wall; each room has a window with a rounded arch flanked by a fireplace.The roof level originally carried the gun, and this has a traversing platform with iron racer and a central limestone plinth to enable the ordnance to traverse.
Rosslague is the most easterly of three Martello towers located on Great Island, all of which are recorded archaeological monuments. To fully understand the context in which Martello towers such as Rosslague were constructed there is a need to view them from a maritime perspective- this tower was part of a wider defensive network in Cork Harbour that included a number of towers and fortifications, designed to protect one of Britain’s most important anchorages from the threat of invasion during the Napoleonic Period. The military compound at Rosslague should also not be seen as restricted to the tower alone. The first edition ordnance survey mapping indicates that the site also included an access road and a waterfront pier. The remains of these elements of the site remain visible and should be viewed as an integral part of the monument. Curiously, the tower is not marked on the Second Edition OS Sheet.
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