Ardmore, Waterford, Ireland
- Site Location
- National Grid Reference
- 22X 19 77
- Type of building/monument
- Round tower
II General Description
Round tower, built with evenly coursed, well-finished sandstone masonry with three external string courses and a distinct batter.The tower is 29.2m in height and has a circumference of 15.8 m at the base (Barrow).
III Exterior Features
Round-headed, with inclined jambs. Facing ENE (towards the present chancel of the cathedral) and 3.98 m above ground level. The doorway is framed by an angle roll with a narrower roll following on the face. The sill projects slightly and has two, centrally placed vertical grooves.
|w. at base||0.7 m|
|w. at springing of arch||0.57 m|
(i) Fourth storey window.
3. Exterior Decoration
a. String Courses
These bear no relationship to the arrangement of floor levels on the interior and appear to be a purely decorative feature. Each of the three string courses are rounded in profile 0.15m high with a depth of 0.10m on the underside and 0.15m on the upper surface, marking an offset in the wall.
IV Interior Features
5. Interior Decoration
There are a total of sixteen corbels in the tower, five of which are carved.
1.Vulpine head with large angled eyes.
2. Anthropomorphic mask with large ovoid eyes, prominent nose bridge and snout and a large tongue projecting from the mouth.
3. Large oval mask with prominent forehead/nose ridge, narrow ovoid eyes, and no mouth.
4. Anthropomorphic mask with prominent central flattening of forehead merging with nose, deep-set oval eyes with eyelids clearly defined and no ears or mouth.
5. Double volute with central projecting tongue.
The earliest mention of the tower is in 1642 when it was occupied by Irish forces and besieged by the English. Gough (1779) mentions that the interior was white and plastered as if newly done and that three oak beams were still in place under the cap from which the bell was hung. He further describes how the two sill grooves were used for the bell ropes, which were pulled from the ground below. The capstone fell in the 1860s, half of it remains in the cathedral. During internal excavations in 1841 two skeletons were discovered under a flagged and concrete covered floor. Both Gough and Montmorency-Morres (1812) mention that the roof was originally capped with a stone finial like a shoe.
The round tower at Ardmore is unique in Ireland for its internal carved corbels and external string courses, although Lalor (1999) has pointed out a parallel in the use of string courses on the towers at Cormacs chapel, Cashel. The masonry of the tower is of exceptional quality, far exceeding that of the adjacent cathedral. The string courses have a different profile to those in the nearby cathedral, suggesting that the tower predates the cathedral. The current roof and finial cross are modern replacements.
- L. Barrow, The Round Towers of Ireland, Dublin, 1979,192-6.
- R. R. Brash, The Ecclesiastical Architecture of Ireland, Dublin, 1870, 111-113.
- R. Gough, Brittania; or a Chronological History of the Antiquities of the British Isles, Vol III, London, 1779, 480.
- B. Lalor, The Irish Round Tower, Cork,1999, 225-227.
- K. Montmorency-Morres, A Historical and Critical Inquiry into the Origin and Primitive Use of the Irish Pillar Tower, London, 1821, 50.
- T. O'Keeffe, Romanesque Architecture and Sculpture at Ardmore' in Waterford History and Society, W. Nolan, and T. Power (eds), Dublin, 1992, 73-104.
- S. Pavia, and J. Bolton, Stone Monuments Decay Study, 2000, Kilkenny, 2001, 163-4.
- J. Windele, ' The Round Tower at Ardmore and its Siege of 1642', Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland, 76, 1956, 196-202.