Carrickfergus Castle’s Great Tower has been reopened after the completion of a £1 million conservation project to construct a new roof on the 800-year-old landmark.
Located in Northern Ireland, Carrickfergus Castle was founded in the late twelfth century by John de Courcy, a young Anglo-Norman knight who led a military expedition into Ulster. The castle has been enlarged and reinforced over the centuries, and remained a military site until 1928, when it passed into State Care. It is considered one of the most complete examples of Norman architecture in the British Isles.
The conservation project replaced the roof was put on the Great Tower, which had been first constructed in the 1930s. For many years, however, there has been persistent leaking of rainwater into the upper floor of the 12th century tower.
The reconstruction of the new roof began in March 2019, and used medieval techniques to build the structure. The roof features 1,000m of Irish Oak timbers, which laid end-to-end would be as long as 10 football pitches.
Northern Ireland’s Minister for Communities Deirdre Hargey was a the reopening ceremony, and said:
“This investment has secured the future of this important monument and prevented irreparable damage to the structure. Archaeologists and conservation architects within the Department worked together to design a historically appropriate roof. What has been achieved is an outstanding piece of architecture that safeguards this important and historic place. The project has been designed to be sustainable on many levels. The materials used are durable, traditional materials. The oak used for the roof is from a sustainable source.”
Colum McNicholl, from JPM Contracts Ltd, the company who carried out the reconstruction, added “Now that the works are completed on the roof, and the dust settles, we can stand back and look at this roof with pride. We hope that our work will become part of the history of Carrickfergus, and that people visiting the castle will enjoy this beautiful structure for years – if not centuries – to come.”
Carrickfergus Castle had over 49,000 visitors in 2019. To learn more about the castle, please visit Discover Northern Ireland.
Top Image: Stewart / Carrickfergus Castle, reflections at sunset / CC BY-SA 2.0