Archaeology Magazine Archive

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from the trenches
Destination Volume 60 Number 2, March/April 2007

Ball State University archaeologist Ron Hicks shares his favorite undiscovered gem in Ireland:

(Ron Hicks) [LARGER IMAGE]

I've been doing fieldwork in Ireland since 1971 and thought I had been down about every backcountry road on the island. But a few years ago I came across a site I had never seen before: Castle Roche in County Louth, about 4.5 miles northwest of the town of Dundalk. The castle is also known as Dún Gall, the fortress of the foreigners, because it was built by the Normans a few decades after the invasion in A.D. 1169.

Castle Roche stands atop an escarpment and commands a sweeping view of the surrounding rolling hills. While the interior is in ruins, a fine gateway with two towers survives. Like most national monuments in Ireland, the castle is on private property. Try to avoid the cattle or sheep that may be grazing there.

Only a few miles north of the much-visited Neolithic site of Newgrange, Castle Roche is also close to the monastic sites of Monasterboice and Mellifont Abbey. For accommodations, head east, to Carlingford, where you'll find McKevitt's Village Hotel and its excellent restaurant.

© 2007 by the Archaeological Institute of America