Rathdown – Evidence in the Landscape (cropmarks)

An aerial survey by Cambridge University

in July 1970 found cropmarks that showed Rathdown

was a medieval village or town

with signs of a castle, church and houses.

 

You can see the original photos HERE.

 

Can you work out where the village and castle

may have been from the markings on the ground?

 

What are crop marks?

When places where people once lived are deserted,

they become overgrown.

RuinsCreative Commons License Mark Coleman via Compfight

Eventually they are buried.

What is underneath the soil can affect

how the crops above them grow.

Ditches dug into the ground fill up

with soil over time. Crops grow well in these place.

They grow higher and look greener.

These create ‘positive’ cropmarks.

 

Where there are walls, floors or foundations underneath,

there is a thinner layer of soil.

Crops don’t grow as well on top of this rubble.

This creates ‘negative’ cropmarks.

Positive and negative cropmarks can be seen best from the air.

RHB_UK_Harnhill-1672_LabelledCreative Commons License DART Project via Compfight

Click on this LINK to read more about cropmarks.

Click HERE for a very detailed excavation

at Rathdown dating from 1997.

Rathdown Castle

The very first visitors to Greystones,

came during the Stone Age.

They didn’t stay where our town is today,

but instead they stayed at a place now called Rathdown,

just to the north.

North Circle stone

 Jim Champion via Compfight

 

In the Bronze age King Heremon came

and built a fortification

in this sheltered spot in 1699BC.

DSC_2425 Joachim S. Müller via Compfight

Rath means fort in Irish.

This is where the area of Rathdown gets its name.

 

Many hundreds of years later the Normans built

a proper castle at Rathdown.

The Normans were invited to Ireland in 1169

by the King of Leinster, Dermot MacMurrough.

 

They built Rathdown castle soon after they arrived.

The Book of Howth names John, grandson of Domhnall MacGiollamocholmog,

chief of the Uí Dúnchada clan,

as the first owner of the castle in 1270.

Coincidently, John was also son in law of Dermot MacMurrough.

 

Dermot MacMurrough was the King of Leinster and was infamous

because he invited Norman soldiers to Ireland to help him win back his Kingdom.

Infamous means he was famous for all the wrong reasons.

He invited the Normans and promised to reward them with land.

They arrived in 1169 and took power in Ireland.

 

You can read more about Dermot MacMurrough on the

Ask About Ireland website

The MacGiollamocholomog clan later

sensibly changed their names to Fitz Dermot.

TRIM CASTLE - COUNTY MEATH, IRELANDCreative Commons License William Murphy via Compfight

This isn’t THE castle but this is what

it probably looked like as it was a Norman castle.

 

The wild Wicklow tribes, the O’Byrnes and O’Tooles

burnt down the castle in 1301.

2013 Thanksgiving Day Bonfire in Hull Jeff Cutler via Compfight

However it was rebuilt again from 1308

by other Norman families.

 

In 1534, a castle,

20 houses,

a watermill

and a creek were recorded at Rathdown.

Aerial photographs taken in 1970 were able to show signs

of the village and castle at Rathdown.

You can read about that HERE.

 

In the 19th century a crazy landowner

started dismantling the castle

to make walls and sheds on his farm.

Textures, Orkney May 2010 Cole Henley via Compfight

His name was Colonel Tarrant

and we feel he has a lot to answer for,

as he destroyed our heritage.

 

Finally the last stones of the castle were used

to make a railway bridge in the 1850s.

An uneven skylineCreative Commons License Broo_am (Andy B) via Compfight

Aerial photographs of the fields

where the castle once stood show

outlines of ancient fields, houses, paths and roads.