1995:265 - 'Dungarvan Castle', Dungarvan, Waterford

NMI Burial Excavation Records

County: Waterford Site name: 'Dungarvan Castle', Dungarvan

Sites and Monuments Record No.: N/A Licence number: 95E0080

Author: Dave Pollock, Rathduff, Fethard, Co. Tipperary.

Site type: Medieval castle

ITM: E 626145m, N 593057m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 52.088817, -7.618493

Trenches were cut in the shell keep, the round tower, one of the gate-towers, and the main yard of Dungarvan castle over eight weeks in 1995.

The shell keep
The keep was standing by 1209. Its irregular shape accommodates a long building inside the north wall. Excavation showed that an original building in this position was dismantled during construction and rebuilt with a (plank-centred) vaulted basement. Both structures had three arrow-loops and a sally-port opening onto the sea to the north. Traces of the main entry to the keep, including a likely drawbridge slot, were found at a higher level on the east side. Ground level inside the keep was on a natural knoll c. 2m above the present castle yard and c. 0.6m below the level of the bridge. The interior appears to have been open but cramped, with several buildings lining the wall. Four garderobes and a large window are original.

The E end of the vaulted building was damaged (the vault was broken) and the arrow-loops were remodelled to take artillery in the 16th century. Subsequently the keep was seriously damaged, but restored as a defensible roofless shell in the 18th century.

The round tower
The tower at the south-west angle of the castle was built immediately before the massive south curtain wall. Three storeys of the original tower can be identified, with access from a spiral stone staircase. The insertion of a wicker-centred domed vault disrupted the floor arrangement and necessitated the removal of the stone stairs. An excavation over the vault failed to provide a date for the insertion (probably 16th-century). Further renovations are associated with the 18th/19th- century military barracks.

The gate-tower
An excavation in the south gate-tower uncovered the base of the massive south curtain below the tower. The suggestions of a ditch and upcast below the wall are probably associated with the original keep.

Construction of the D-tower probably started before the south curtain was well advanced. The tower probably had a vaulted ground floor. It was slighted in the 16th or 17th century but repaired as an open shell after the construction of the military barracks.

The yard
An excavation to locate the medieval north wall of the castle found a substantial curtain, with a tower or stairs expansion, directly below the narrow 18th-century wall enclosing the barracks. A dock or tidally flooded revetted ditch separated the substantial curtain from the castle yard. The rough-cobbled yard appeared to incorporate the rubble bases for wicker buildings. Yard and ditch were subsequently overbuilt with stone footings for rectangular timber-framed buildings. The buildings were down shortly before the 18th-century barracks was built.

The substantial north curtain, ditch, and wicker buildings in the yard are thought to be no older than the 15th or 16th century; an earlier curtain is thought to underlie the yard.