Field Study Report


Evidence of Medieval Settlement in our area:

Rochfortbridge is a small village, situated 55miles to the west of Dublin, in Co.Westmeath. It is in a rural area surrounded by rich pasture land and peat bogs. When we looked at the archaeological survey maps for the area we found a wealth of archaeological evidence for ancient settlement in our area. Some of these sites go back to Bronze Age times with many Cist Graves in evidence. Ringforts and Crannogs were numerous ; we counted over one thousand examples in the county. Around the village there are: crop marks from the last century, Ringforts from the Iron Age and Medieval Castles from 12th century to the 15th.

For our site study we choose four sites to visit and explore:a) the Motte and Bailey at Castlelost.b) The Motte and Bailey at Castletown Geoghegan.c) The McGeoghegan Castle,Ringfort and Crannog at Newtownlowe.d) The Tyrrell Castle in Tyrrellspass.


Motte and Bailey


Motte and Bailey







History Field Study by Mary Mc Guire

In our history class we studied all about Medieval Times and we discovered that there are lots of medieval sites in the fields around Rochfortbridge.. We decided to go on a field study.

Stop1. Castlelost: As we got out of the bus the first thing we saw in the field was an old stone castle. It was built by the Tyrrells and replaced the Motte and Bailey which we could still see just behind it. The Tyrrells built the motte and bailey castle around 1180. The stone castle was made of rounded boulders which we discovered came from the glacial eskers nearby. We could clearly see the motte but the bailey was not as evident. Tyrrell was given the land all around Rochfortbridge by Hugh de Lacy, a famous Norman knight who built the castle in Trim. Tyrrell needed protection when he came to take over the land. He therefore built the motte and bailey first and the stone castle much later. We could also see an ancient graveyard where Hugh Tyrrell is believed to have been buried. A stone effigy of a Norman knight was found in the graveyard.


Stop 2: In Castletown Geoghegan the Motte and Bailey were magnificent; even standing on the Bailey one had a view for miles around. Straight down from the Bailey there was a trench. I ran down this and stood at the bottom of the motte. When I looked up the Motte towered steeply above me - almost impossible to get up. We moved around to the east where the bank was less steep. It was very slippy trying to get up. Our teachers divided us into groups. I was in group number four. Our task was to measure the circumference of the summit of the motte (42m). The circumference at the bottom of the motte was 120m. and the height was 21m. We took some photographs and left.

Measuring the height of the Motte



Archaeological Survey Map:

This map shows some of the sites we visited during our field trip. Number 10 is a Ringfort dating from the Iron Age. It is only barely recognisable in the field. Number 11 is an ancient Crannog. Crannogs date to the Iron Age. This Crannog was excavated by the Archaeologists from the National Museum. It dates to the 8th or 9th Century A.D. Some of the finds were Bronze and Iron pins for holding cloaks. Quern Stones for grinding corn. Hone Stones for sharpening tools. There was a very find ceremonial hone stone found here with a beautiful bronze birds head terminal and chain. There was an abundance of animal bones also found on the site. The archaeologis was Mark Clinton and he told us about the excavation. Number 15 is a Mc Geoghegan Castle dating to the post Cromwellian Period. We were able to explore the ruins of this castle during our field trip. Number 12 is an 18th Century grave yard and 25 is a Bronze Age Cist Grave.

Report on History Field Trip by Louise Neary 1.1

The Normans first came to Ireland in 1169 over a hundred years after they defeated the English at the Battle of Hastings. The Normans were brought to Ireland on the invitation of Diarmuid Mac Murrough. He had been expelled from his position as King of Leinster. He sought King Henry11's help and with his permission he travelled throughout England seeking allies. There he met Richard de Clare better known as Strongbow. Strongbow was the Norman leader so in return for his help Diarmuid promised that Strongbow could marry his daughter Aoife and could inherit Duarmuid's territory when he himself died. From the moment the Normans arrived in Irelandthey brought their tradition. The Normans had advanced farming methods. One of their greatest skills was there art of castle building. One of the most famous examples of this is Dublin Castle.

Hugh de Lacy was a vassal who was granted the Provence of Meath which at this time included County Westmeath. He built a large castle in Trim and divided his territory among loyal Norman vassals. This introduced new families into the area around Rochfortbridge - Tuites, Dillons, Daltons and Tyrrells. Hugh Tyrrell was granted the Barony of Fertullagh which he quickly set about conquering. Hugh built a Motte and Bailey castle outside Rochfortbridge. This was meant to be a temporary fortification which was later turned into a stone structure. In the 15th century Tyrrellspass castle was built.


Stop 1: Our first stop was at the Motte and Bailey at Castlelost. This is situated just outside Rochfortbrdige. This was also built by Hugh Tyrrell. He built this as a temporary fortification and it was later replaced by a permanent stone castle. We took photographs of the Motte and Bailey and headed for Castletown Geoghegan.


Stop 2 : Our second stop was at the Motte and Bailey at Castletown Geoghegan. The MacGeoghegans were an old gaelic Iron Age family who lived in this area. They were dispossessed by the Normans but returned a few generations later and built castles copying the Normans. Here we got into our five groups. Our group had to describe how the Motte and Bailey is defended. Another person had to sketch it. Another had to measure its base and the others described the materials ised to construct the Motte.

The measurements were:

Perimeter of the Bailey = 70m

Height of the Bailey = 9m

Summit of Motte (circumference) = 42m

Perimeter of Motte =120m

Height of Motte = 64m

Iron age Souterrain found near our school:



 These pictures are of the end chamber of a souterrain near our school. The souterrain was found in an esker gravel pit. Unfortunately it is now gone. The archaeologists excavated the site before it was destroyed. The most unusual feature was the cobbled floor. If you look carefully you will see that it was made of very large boulders.


Souterrains are underground hiding places. They are usually associated with Ringforts and belong to the Iron Age. The sand and gravel from this pit was used to build roads around Rochfortbridge.