Carrig Project | The Irish National Heritage Park
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The Carrig Project

The Carrig site holds the remains of a fortified ringfort built by Robert FitzStephen in 1169, the first Norman settlement in Ireland. The site was excavated twice during the 1980s and excavations began again in 2018.

Illustration of a new stone age farmstead
Tower with excavation activity in the foreground

Live Archaeological Excavation

A wooden fortification or Ringwork was built by Robert FitzStephen on Hill of Carrig in the early winter of 1169. It was built to give control over the River Slaney, an important navigational route. This fortification was burnt down sometime between the late 1170s early 1180s. There is no specific date for the construction of the stone castle which stood on the site, but building certainly commenced sometime in the early thirteenth century under William Marshal. This castle and the town that developed around it was in ruins by the early 1320s, and the site was never occupied again. The site today is occupied by a Round Tower built in 1857 to commemorate the men of Wexford who fought in the Crimean War. The tower was built using the stone from the ruined castle.

Close up of excavation with brushes and tools

Irish Archaeological Field School

The site was excavated twice during the 1980s and excavations began again in 2018. Digging the Lost Town of Carrig is a partnership project involving the Irish Archaeological Field School (IAFS) and the Irish National Heritage Park, with support from Wexford County Council. The site was first excavated in 1984, when they discovered the thirteenth and fourteenth century levels. Finds such as pottery, nails, arrow heads and animal bones, like deer and cattle, were discovered on the site. The Irish Archaeological Field School began excavating the site in 2018. They discovered the foundations of some stone structures, such as the Great Hall and the Chapel walls. Included in the twelfth century levels, finds such as pottery, especially from the time of FitzStephen, have been found, along with knives, arrow heads and nails. Throughout the excavations stirrups and metal from saddles, which are associated with the medieval knights’ horses, were also unearthed. New information posts have recently been erected at the site. The Irish National Heritage Park, in conjunction with the IAFS, received financial support from the National Monuments Service to rebuild some of the stone walls at the Carrig site. They have recently rebuilt part of the wall of the Great Hall, using stone discovered from the original castle and the same type of mortar used in the thirteenth century.

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