from the air

Situated on the summit of a prominent hill overlooking both the small coastal town of Dundrum and the adjacent tidal inlet of Inner Dundrum Bay, the standing remains consist of an inner and outer ward. A large circular keep and gatehouse survive within the inner ward whilst a small, seventeenth-century manor-house is located in the outer ward.

The castle has a long and complex history. The Anglo-Norman castle was, almost certainly, sited upon an Early Christian settlement or fort. Time Team had been invited by the Northern Ireland Environment Agency to investigate the castle at the time of Norman knight John de Courcey - a well-known character in Anglo-Irish history, de Courcy, of Stoke Courcey, in Somerset, came to Ireland around the year 1171 as part of the Norman invading forces. John was very ambitious and wanted lands for himself. During this campaigning phase de Courcey captured Dundrum and built a fortified castle on the site. He did all this without King Henry II's permission.

The Time Team project at Dundrum Castle involved close collaboration with Queens University Belfast who supplied the excavation team and conducted all on site recording and post-excavation work. Our key question was clear - Did Dundrum Castle sit on the site of a royal or high status pre-Norman fortification? Minimal excavation in the 50s appeared to suggest that this may well be the case and that the pre-Norman site, in turn, may have been constructed on a high status prehistoric site... There was everything to play for on this amazing site, plus a few unexpected Norman surprises for Time Team digger Matt Williams...