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The Normans and ANGLO Normans :- 1169

The Mid C12th. / 13th.

The Normans brought the Continental style of Architecture and Political / Ecclesiastical structures with them when they " Invaded " Ireland. Fortifications / Defensive structures were essential and the first type consisted of the " Motte and Bailey ", i.e. a Ditch which had a Fort constructed of Timber within a surrounding Wall of rammed tree trunks and built on the mound of earth created by the spoil from the ditch. These served their purpose in the early years of their rule but as time went on these structures were replaced by much more substantial buildings and so we can see the rise of the " Norman Castle " or " Tower ".

These building developments were not confined to the Secular but were also assimilated into our Religious structures. The early Irish Monastic sites as you know were made up of largely separate or individual stone buildings within an Enclosing wall and were not large in scale. This changed dramatically ( as we can see from the Irish Romanesque e.g. Killmalkedar and Clonfert etc. ) into the European Gothic consisting of Large integrated buildings which reflected the High status of their Orders.

 Norman Towers / Castles :- Around the C12th. the Motte and Bailey as mentioned above ( encircled by a water filled ditch ) became the recognisable style of Norman Fortification here in Ireland. These Castles were modelled on the French  style and included Round Defensive towers at Strategic positions along the Outer defensive stone wall allowing it to be defended from many angles as well as  any Frontal attacks.  As time progressed and the necessity for Defences reduced, the complexity of the construction of Castle defences was reduced considerably and from the C15th. / C16th.  we see the  emergence of the " Tower House and Walled Bawn " , e.g. Carraigafoile, Ross,

The Bawns or Tower houses usually consisted of a rectangular tower with four to five stories and topped by a tiled Gabled roof. A few examples of Cylindrical types exist, ( e.g. Aghadoe in Killarney ), but these are the exception rather than the rule. Due to their narrow windows / Iights the rooms were poorly lit, but in contrast to previous accommodation they were warmer because of the Leaded windows  which helped to keep out the harsh winter weather. The Great Hall on the ground floor was the centre of all communal life within the Bawn and saw many a great feast. From here a concealed Spiral staircase built within the walls lead one to the upper private  accommodation / sleeping quarters. The stone steps were narrow so that any attacker was at a Disadvantage. You could not ascend without looking down, you could not wield a sword due to the confined space and at all times the person defending, ( from above ), would  overcome .