Irish castles - Trim castle

July 26, 2015

Trim Castle

Recently known as the site where the film Braveheart was shot.

It is the largest Anglo-Norman castle on the island of Ireland.

It was constructed by Hugh de Lacy and his son Walter over a thirty year period. Hugh de Lacy was granted the Liberty of Meath by King Henry II in 1176 in an attempt to curb the expansionist policies of Richard de Clare, also known as Strongbow.

Construction of the central stronghold of the castle commenced c.1176 on the site of an earlier wooden fortress. This imposing twenty-sided tower, was protected by a ditch, wall and moat.

 In 2000 this castle opened to the public after an extensive  excavation and restoration. Access to the keep is by guided tour only for safety reasons. Visitors also have access to the grounds of the castle.

Trim castle is an Anglo-Norman castle, possibly the first stone castle in Ireland. It is located about 28 miles northwest of Dublin in County Meath, along the banks of the River Boyne.

Trim castle is “the finest and largest castle in Ireland” , and it has a reputation as the king of Irish castles. Early Anglo-Norman castles were often built in prominent locations, and their purpose was to display the great wealth and dominance of their owners.

Trim Castle is even mentioned in the heroic Norman poem “The Song of Dermot and the Earl.” It first began as a ringwork castle, and the remains of a large trench, bracing posts, and postholes of a wooden structure are evidence of this. Historical records say that this original ringwork castle built by Hugh de Lacy in 1173 was captured and burnt down that same year by Roderic O’Connor (Ruadhri Ua Conchabair), a native Irishman threatened by its presence. Hugh de Lacy was so powerful in his time that the King of England was afraid that de Lacy would deny allegiance to him and declare himself the King of Ireland. This shows the great power and intimidation that Trim Castle displayed, especially over the native Irish people.

 

Excavations
 From 1971 to 1974 excavations were done here under the supervision of David Sweetman. They covered most of the area directly around the keep, and the area along the northeast wall. This excavation uncovered the remains of ten headless men. Possibly these were  criminals,  victims of King Edward’s 1465 decree for any thieves or future thieves to be beheaded and their heads displayed on spikes outside as a public warning.

Excavations (as well as renovations) at Trim Castle were completed recently. The remains of a stone plinth, or wall, closely surrounding the keep were found, as were the remains of additional buildings, and evidence of a ditch dug around the keep. Iron arrowheads, silver coins, an iron axe, pottery originated from Bristol, and French wine jugs, all from the 13th century, were also discovered there, mostly in the ditch around the keep.

Excavations also revealed a slipway and storage facilities on the east end of the Great Hall, along the edge of the River Boyne. This is most probably because Trim castle was used as a fortress along the river which, along with a few other structures that he owned, facilitated de Lacy  control of the port town. Along with these excavations. Trim Castle is now managed and cared for by Duchas, the Heritage Service of Ireland.

 

TRIM TOWN & TRIM CASTLE

Trim is one of Ireland's heritage towns, Trim is situated on the River Boyne.


 After proclaiming Christianity in Ireland, St. Patrick built a church here on land gifted to him by the son of the High King. He built it near an ancient ford that crossed the river just beyond the bridge and it was from this that Trim got its name.
Surrounding the Castle are fascinating ruins which provide evidence of fervent religious activity. There are many relics in St. Patricks Cathedral, its church and porch revealing a number of medieval graveslabs. St. Marys Abbey is the remains of an Augustinian monastery founded in the 12th century and later a focal point for pilgrimage.

 




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