1991:119 - 'Castlederg Castle', Castlesessiagh, Tyrone

NMI Burial Excavation Records

County: Tyrone Site name: 'Castlederg Castle', Castlesessiagh

Sites and Monuments Record No.: SMR TYR 16:16 Licence number:

Author: Conor Newman, Archaeological Development Services Ltd., Unit 5, Westlink Enterprise Centre, 30/50 Distillery Street, Belfast BTJ2 5B.

Site type: Plantation castle

ITM: E 626146m, N 884394m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 54.706960, -7.594307

Archaeological excavations were carried our preparatory to the conservation of the Plantation castle at Castlederg, Co. Tyrone. The excavations were of ten weeks duration.

The present castle was built by Sir John Davies (1569-1626) between 1609 and 1622, a little to the west of the town on the north bank of the River Derg. The Annals of Ulster record the existence of an earlier castle at Castlederg, wrested from the O’Donnells in 1479 by Henry Og O’Neill, only to be recaptured in 1505. Excavation has confirmed that the Plantation period castle occupies the same site.

There is evidence of at least four phases of activity on the sire. The first phase saw the construction of a pre-mural earthwork, probably originally D-shaped, that enclosed the sire and which may have been contemporary with the building of the 15th-century tower house. The second phase saw the construction of a bawn wall around the tower house. During the third phase of activity, part of the site was used as a burial ground. The time interval between the interment of three burials (two children, both of whom suffered from spina bifida, and an elderly man) and the construction of the castle during the Plantation period, appears to have been quite short. The Plantation castle (built during the fourth phase) appears to have been simply added on to the north range of the preexisting bawn following the back-filling and levelling of the north portion of the fosse. It was defended by two large, square flankers on the north-west and north-east.