Antrim Round Tower
At a Glance
County Antrim
OS Map 14
OS Coordinate J 154 877
Condition Complete
Height 28 m
Doorway Type lintelled
Window Type lintelled
Number of Windows 8
Ground to Doorway 2.5 m
Distinguishing Features celtic cross relief over doorway
Traditional Association St. Aedh
 
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Antrim Round Tower Co. Antrim

Door

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 of ivy.

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.

  © 2004-2006 F.J. & K.D. Schorr - All rights reserved.