Armoy Round Tower Co. Antrim
Armoy Round Tower
O.S. Map 5
Visited May 15, 2006
Location:Armoy is on the B 15 at the A44. The tower is located at the top
of a steep hill in the churchyard of St. Patrick Church of Ireland about 2 km east
of Armoy village. Turn right at the T-junction in the village.
The round tower is easily seen from the road and there is ample parking for several
cars at the wide junction in front of the church.
Dimensions:There is an offset of approx. 10 cm. just visible on the north side
of the tower where the ground is slightly lower than on the south. The south-facing
doorway is just 1.6 m above ground level, most likely due to the graveyard being
raised to accommodate burials; a common practice. The very narrow doorway arch is cut
from a single massive lintel with a decorative raised moulding. This moulding may have
carried around the entire doorway, though it is quite worn. New jambs replacing the
originals seem to indicate such a continued moulding. The doorsill is very worn both
inside and out. External diameter is 4.6 meters. The tower is currently 10.8 meters
tall, as the top was rebuilt and adapted for use as a belfry from 1843 to 1869 when
the current belfry was built.. There are no surviving windows. The areas on the top
that resemble window sills are more likely part of the belfry adaptation.
Features:The tower is open to the sky and possesses an unusually narrow doorway.
This doorway has recently been fitted with some new jambstones to replace dangerously
worn original stones. A step stone projects from the front of the tower, about a half
a meter above present ground level and to the right of the doorsill.
As the tower is open, it may have been inserted to facilitate tower entry in recent
times. Early drawings do not include this feature.
Comments: This well-maintained churchyard overlooks some of the prettiest scenery
in the county. The fact that the tower can be entereed and studied on the inside as well
adds much to a visit here. Therre appears to be three distinct building styles in layers
which adds a little bit of mystery and speculation.
History: The early monastery at Armoy is reputed to have been founded by a
disciple of St. Patrick - St. Olcan, but nothing is recorded. The tower was excavated
by Getty in 1843, finding some human bone that may have been from burials previous to
the building of the tower, or may have been from the surrounding graveyard as debris
for infilling after the tower was built. The capstone was found during this excavation,
confirming that Armoy was once a full tower with traditional cap. Other artifacts were
found that may have been gear from the original builders, but nothing conclusive has
After excavation, the tower was fitted as a belfry and a wooden roof was installed.
This roof no longer exists. The putholes for scaffolding are quite evident.
Other Items of Interest: During roadworks an ancient souterrain was uncovered.
Excavation in 1997 found evidence of a medieval building beneath the present church,
as well as numerous burials. According to the information posted at the site,
one of the buried discoveries included the feet of a leper 450 to 500 years old.