celtic cross relief over doorway
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Antrim Round Tower Co. Antrim
Antrim Round Tower - Aontreibh "single ridge"
Antrim, County Antrim
O.S. Map 14
Location:: On the northeast side of Antrim in Steeple Park,
once a private demense. The entrance to the park is on Steeple Road.
Parking opposite the park entrance is on a private access street parallel
with Steeple Road.
Dimensions: : This complete tower rises 28 meters above ground level at the
base of the tower, which now rests on a mound approximately a meter higher than the
surrounding parkland. There are two offsets visible above the base, each roughly
20 cm. high, the top offset approximately 8 cm. wide and the lower offset varying
between 8 and 25 cm wide. The ground level at the base is uneven and there appears
to be a foundation level below the lower offset. The NE facing doorway is approximately
2.35 meters above the top offset. Its lintel is broken, as is the doorsill.
Each is comprised of a large slab of granite, as are the four sidestones of the
doorway, in contrast to the rough rubblework of the rest of the tower.
Above the doorway is another block of granite, dressed to the curve, with a fine
relief carving of a celtic cross, the arms and top of which extend a short way past
the ring and a base that extends downward to a rectangular base with curved edges
at the bottom of the stone. This stone is also broken and repaired similarly
to the lintel and doorsill. The windows are all lintelled with the same rough
stone as the rest of the tower and most are fitted with simple wood frames and glass.
The top storey windows face the traditional compass points (almost) and are smaller
than the other windows in the tower. The other windows, in ascending order face
ENE, S, W, and again S.
Features: This is a beautiful example of a probable early round tower,
the relief carving over the door making it instantly recognizable. The tower sits on
a very small circular mound of ground, which makes it appear like an island in the
surrounding parkland. This suggests that the surrounding land was levelled in the
late 18th or early 19th century, when it was privately owned. Any traces of the
original ecclaisiastical buildings were removed, possibly at this time. The tower
has some irregularities in it's conical cap, replaced in the early 1800's and is
missing a few of it's thin cornice stones. A stone plaque is built into the west face
of the tower but is presently blank. It is possible that it was placed for some
inscription at the time the cap was reset after a lightning strike between 1819 and 1822.
Comments: Despite it's height, the tower is difficult to spot from the road as
it is surrounded by tall trees with the very top of the tower just visible from certain
angles. It also cannot be seen from the park entrance while the leaves are on the trees.
Above the doorway, in three large areas, appears to be some awkward plaster-like
repointing. This may possibly be a repair from damage done by earlier heavy growth
History:The monastery at Antrim is often linked with the monastic settlement
at Bangor with references from the early 7th century. It was prbably founded by
St. Aebh in 495 AD although Comgall (Bangor's founder) and Durtacht have also been
suggested. In response to a raid on the settlement at Bangor, St. Comgall's remains
were moved to Antrim. The Annals report that the site was destroyed in 1018 and
finally burned in 1147.
Other Items of Interest: A large boulder, with two sizable bullauns, lies
approximately 6 meters from the tower, slightly to the left front of the doorway.