2004:0481 - LUTTRELLSTOWN CASTLE AND DEMESNE, CASTLEKNOCK, Dublin

NMI Burial Excavation Records

County: Dublin Site name: LUTTRELLSTOWN CASTLE AND DEMESNE, CASTLEKNOCK

Sites and Monuments Record No.: SMR 17:4 Licence number: 04E0558

Author: Linzi Simpson, Margaret Gowen and Co. Ltd, 27 Merrion Square, Dublin 2.

Site type: Medieval/post-medieval

ITM: E 705316m, N 737221m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 53.374663, -6.417254

Luttrellstown Castle and Demesne near Lucan is one of the most important 18th-century demesne lands in the western suburb of Dublin. The walled estate encompasses over 567 acres, much of which is landscaped, although the eastern half is now occupied by a golf course. The main house is a large, castellated, U-shaped building, representing a conglomeration of buildings, the earliest identifiable phase of which can be dated to the Tudor period. This mansion with rounded turrets was substantially refurbished and various wings added in the late 18th century (between 1787 and 1790) and again in the 19th century; the castle was recently substantially renovated (1984), under David Slattery, Conservation Architect. The present house probably occupies the site of the medieval castle of Luttrellstown, first referred to in the 15th century, although there was probably an earlier foundation built in the early 13th century by Geoffrey Luttrell. The castle is documented throughout the late medieval and into the early modern period, as it acted as a major stronghold, along with the neighbouring castles of Ballydowd, Finstown and Ballyowen.

The surrounding 18th-century demesne land survives largely intact, with plenty of screening and tree-lined avenues leading to the house. There arefour main entrances, each with a gate lodge, one of which is known as the 'Crazy Gate', an unusual Gothic-type building. Other features include a walled-in garden (dated to the late 17th/early 18th century), a fine stable-yard and farm-building complex (dated to the mid- to late 18th century), an ornamental lake (first constructed in c. 1740 and extended on the south-west side in the late 18th century), a cold bath temple (built in c. 1750) and an intact ice-house (18th-century). There are also a series of walks around a dramatic glen, which is spanned by an ornately decorated bridge known as the 'Rustic Arch'.

The castle and demesne is to be developed as a recreational facility, which will comprise hotel/recreational/equestrian/golfing/tennis facilities, as well as housing, and refurbishment of existing farm buildings and lodges. The golf course was also extended to the western side of the demesne. An EIS produced by Eileen O'Reilly of MGL Ltd included geophysical surveys.

The archaeological assessment included an appraisal of the existing castle building and a series of test-trenches excavated in the various areas of impact around the estate. Six areas (A-G) were tested, which included the new proposed golf course. Area A was represented by the walled garden, as the proposed new development included a provision for building a hotel in this location incorporating the existing walls. The geophysical surveys did identify some areas of interest: the assessment established the presence of earlier garden features including walls, furrows, beds and pits, but none could be dated to the medieval period. Area B was positioned close to the southern side of the present castle; this area produced several sherds of medieval pottery, although only a very small area was tested. The remaining areas (C-G) did not produce any archaeological features and this included the area around the golf course, and around the farmyard and the stable building. A subsequent monitoring programme in the area of the new golf course also did not produce any features of archaeological interest, but work on this project is still current.