Technology maps Cashel town walls for first time in centuries

An entry in a Cashel Town Walls Competition from 2006. Town wall at Dominics Court, Peter Tremayne,  Sister Fidelma author, US policeman Special Olympics torch bearer, Red Bull aircraft
Cashel’s medieval town walls have been mapped for the first time in centuries thanks to a heritage project that funds local groups to ‘Adopt a Monument.’

Cashel’s medieval town walls have been mapped for the first time in centuries thanks to a heritage project that funds local groups to ‘Adopt a Monument.’

Thanks to the scheme specialised archaeological surveys have rediscovered the line of the medieval walls and the medieval ditch associated with it.

Cashel Heritage Forum is a group of local people and some archaeological experts who have an interest in the history of the local area. The ‘Adopt a Monument’ scheme allows them to add to what is known about landmarks and culture in the area.

Over the years the Cashel Forum have raised awareness of the town walls. There are some good examples of parts of the standing town walls still clearly visible in the town centre. Earlier this year they decided to investigate where the full line of the original walls would have been, with a view to learning more about what medieval Cashel would have looked like.

Thanks to funding under the scheme the group were able to engage Earthsound Archaeological Geophysics Services. Working with Dr Paddy Gleeson, who has done extensive work in the area of the Rock, the company targeted five areas in the town. Three surveys were carried out: a radiometric survey, an electromagnetic survey and a survey with ground penetrating radar. The aim to determine the exact location and extent of the medieval walls. Included in the survey area was St John’s Cathedral, Agar’s Lane, the area around the mart and other areas.

Examining a predominantly urban area presented its own challenges but the team were delighted with their positive results - discovering parts of the town wall and ditch as well as other features, like gateways.

The full results of the survey will be published by Cashel Heritage Forum next year, and is sure to attract great interest, not only locally but from international visitors to the town.

Tipperary County Council Heritage Office, Roisín O’Grady, told The Nationalist that the overall results gives us a better outline of the town walls. Projects like this enhance our knowledge of the walls, in conjunction with the work done in the past by the Town Council on maintenance of the walls.

Ms O’Grady went on to say that Tipperary is towns are involved with the Walled Towns Network which works to raise awareness of the walls in Cashel as well as Clonmel, Fethard and Carrick on Suir. The Walled Towns Network funds festival, events and education around the walls. They are a wonderful feature for the towns and a great tourist attraction.

The Adopt a Monument project is co-funded by the Heritage Council and Tipperary County Council. It’s aim is to give communities a sense of ownership and involvement with the heritage of their area. The people living in communities are the custodians of our heritage, Ms O’Grady points out. Tipperary people have a real interest in their areas and a real ‘get up and go’ about projects like this, she added, paying tribute to the people involved with the Cashel Heritage Forum, and other towns, who give so much of their time to their projects. These projects encourage active participation in the community.

The survey of Cashel’s town walls is just one of the projects, and the most recent to report, under the Adopt a Monument scheme. In Cahir the local Tidy Towns group have worked to renovate the the Ice House, near Cahir Castle, and hope to have that open to visitors soon.

In Tipperary Town a project on the Tipperary Hills involves planting and biodiversity work as well as education programmes for local children.