altered with battlements
1 slit, 2 square-headed, 4 arched
Ground to Doorway
battlements, attached to church
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Castledermot Round Tower Co. Kildare
Castledermot (Diseart Diarmada)
O.S. Map 61
Location: The town of Castledermot lies on the N9 and R416.
The round tower stands in the grounds of St. James Church of Ireland
(to which the tower is attached). Be aware that in the north of Kildare,
the N9 is a dual carriageway (M9) and the exits don't seem to be placed
where maps would indicate they are. Once on the National road or the Regional road,
following a map is far easier.
Dimensions: This is an interesting and complete tower, though it's original
cap has been replaced with battlements. Height from ground to the top of these
battlements is 20 meters. If there is an offset, it is not presently visible.
Because the tower is attached to the church by a very short hallway that connects
the round tower to the nave of the church, it is only possible to estimate the
circumference at the base at approximately 4.75 meters. The batter on this tower is
very slight. The top two meters above the windows in the bell storey project from the
tower at two levels (about 1m each), giving the entire tower the look of an upturned
flashlight (electric torch).
Features: This round tower has the appearance of a cobbled street in the vertical,
being composed of what appear to be rounded boulders embedded in mortar. It has large
door-like windows in the bell-storey and a ground level doorway accessed via an annex
hallway from the church or from an exterior round-arched wooden doorway facing south into
History: St. James's Church lies on the site of a monastery founded around 800
by the father of St.Diarmuid, after which Castledermot takes its name. The monastery
was raided by the Vikings in the 9th century, but continued its existence at least until
the 12th century. All that is left today is a splendidly reconstructed Romanesque doorway,
which came from a church that has since vanished.
Doorway: The doorway is reportedly at ground level. Access is by way of an arched
exterior wooden door in the annex hallway or by internal passageway from the nave of the
church. The church was closed on the day we visited in 2004, but it appears the doorway
would face southeast. This is an unusual arrangement if the current church is built on
the site of the earlier monastery, in that it would have had the closest proximity to
a church of any other known round tower.
Windows:This is the only tower that has a window in the same storey as the doorway.
At ground level on the northside of the tower is a slit window,
now glassed, sitting opposite the door. Additionally, there are two small
flat-headed windows in the body of the tower - one to the SE and another to the south.
In the bell-storey there are the usual four windows, each facing a cardinal compass point.
These windows are arched using smaller stones and are disproportionately tall, giving
the appearance of doorways rather than windows. They are lower in the tower than one
would expect, being below the first upper offset, which is, itself, below the
Other Items of Interest: In the churchyard there is a reconstructed Romanesque
doorway from a 12th century church, two fine high crosses
carved with biblical scenes
and celtic design and the base of a third cross (interestingly being used as a decorative
planter at the time of our visit). There are a number of early Christian grave slabs,
a holed "swearing" stone, another holed stone, and the only "hog-back" (a Scandinavian
style grave marker) known in Ireland.