Antrim : Round Tower

Grid RefJ 154 877
Longitude6° 12' 31.36" W
Latitude54° 43' 26.38" N
ITM east480366
ITM north584435
Nearest TownAntrim (1.2 Km)
OS Sheet14
UTM zone29U
UTM x449041
UTM y5761192
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Visit Notes

Saturday, 27th July 2002

It is quite puzzling how this round tower survived in almost perfect condition when all around it has disappeared. The full height tower, complete with conical roof, now stands in a public park, making the whole place very attractive.

The windows are unevenly arranged, with no pattern to their distribution. Above the door is a nice ringed cross carved in relief. This is one of the better towers that still survive today. It is a shame that nothing else of the monastic settlement that it was once part of managed to hang on so well.

Round Towers are found all over Ireland. They are very tall towers associated with early monastic settlements. Their purpose is one of much debate: were they bell towers, look-out towers or were they defensive structures, built to protect the sites relics and books during Viking raids? Maybe they were all three! The high-set doors certainly give the impression that some element of defense was considered in their construction.

Internally they had four or five floors, each accessed via a ladder from the floor below. Not every floor had a window, but the top floor usually had four windows which aligned to the cardinal points of the compass. The one at Kells (County Meath) unusually has five windows on the top floor which point at the five gates to the town.

Not many of the eighty plus examples left are full height these days. Many crumbled and were taken down for safety purposes. Some, however, are still very impressive inded with Kilmacduagh (County Galway) reaching an incredible 35m tall.

Originally all of them would have had a conical roof and those that still possess this feature give the impression of being ready to blast off into space.

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Take the B95 towards Antrim at junction 6. Then follow the B518 north for 1.5km. Turn left at the crossroads and head towards the city centre. The round tower is on the right after about 400m in a park.

Random Gazetteer

A Selection of Other Round Towers

About Coordinates Displayed

This is an explanation of (and a bit of a disclaimer for) the coordinates I provide.

Where a GPS figure is given this is the master for all other coordinates. According to my Garmin these are quite accurate.

Where there is no GPS figure the 6 figure grid reference is master for the others. This may not be very accurate as it could have come from the OS maps and could have been read by eye. Consequently, all other cordinates are going to have inaccuracies.

The calculation of Longitude and Latitude uses an algorithm that is not 100% accurate. The long/lat figures are used as a basis for calculating the UTM & ITM coordinates. Consequently, UTM & ITM coordinates are slightly out.

UTM is a global coordinate system - Universal Transverse Mercator - that is at the core of the GPS system.

ITM is the new coordinate system - Irish Transverse Mercator - that is more accurate and more GPS friendly than the Irish Grid Reference system. This will be used on the next generation of Irish OS maps.

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