Monasterboice : Round Tower

Grid RefO 043 821
GPSO 04336 82073
Longitude6° 25' 1.66" W
Latitude53° 46' 39.9" N
ITM east480366
ITM north584435
Nearest TownDunleer (5.9 Km)
OS Sheet36
UTM zone29U
UTM x449041
UTM y5761192

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Muiredach's Cross - Monasterboice - High CrossThe West Cross - Monasterboice - High Cross
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Visit Notes

Sunday, 27th January 2002

If there is one thing that this visit has taught me it's don't go anywhere with just one picture left on your film! The round tower itself is nearly complete with just the top damaged.

In the churchyard there are the most amazing High Crosses I have ever seen. I'm not very often moved by Christian relics, but these are truly amazing. I will go back and photograph these properly.

Round Towers are found all over Ireland. They are very tall towers associated with early monastic settlements. Their purpose is one of much debate: were they bell towers, look-out towers or were they defensive structures, built to protect the sites relics and books during Viking raids? Maybe they were all three! The high-set doors certainly give the impression that some element of defense was considered in their construction.

Internally they had four or five floors, each accessed via a ladder from the floor below. Not every floor had a window, but the top floor usually had four windows which aligned to the cardinal points of the compass. The one at Kells (County Meath) unusually has five windows on the top floor which point at the five gates to the town.

Not many of the eighty plus examples left are full height these days. Many crumbled and were taken down for safety purposes. Some, however, are still very impressive inded with Kilmacduagh (County Galway) reaching an incredible 35m tall.

Originally all of them would have had a conical roof and those that still possess this feature give the impression of being ready to blast off into space.

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Saturday, 8th May 2010

Standing at the foot of this round tower I remembered that I only had one picture of it! Time to rectify that.

The tower is 28m tall and does not taper significantly. The conical cap is missing, so it would have stood well over 30m high originally. The door is quite close to the ground (less than 2m). However, the ground in the graveyard around it is higher on the door side. There are steps up to the door and the tower is fitted with floors and ladders, but sadly the public aren't allowed inside.

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Like this monument

Marked Sites

Old Images

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Head north from Drogheda on the N1 and follow the Monasterboice road sign that start just before you reach the M1 motorway.

Random Gazetteer

A Selection of Other Round Towers

About Coordinates Displayed

This is an explanation of (and a bit of a disclaimer for) the coordinates I provide.

Where a GPS figure is given this is the master for all other coordinates. According to my Garmin these are quite accurate.

Where there is no GPS figure the 6 figure grid reference is master for the others. This may not be very accurate as it could have come from the OS maps and could have been read by eye. Consequently, all other cordinates are going to have inaccuracies.

The calculation of Longitude and Latitude uses an algorithm that is not 100% accurate. The long/lat figures are used as a basis for calculating the UTM & ITM coordinates. Consequently, UTM & ITM coordinates are slightly out.

UTM is a global coordinate system - Universal Transverse Mercator - that is at the core of the GPS system.

ITM is the new coordinate system - Irish Transverse Mercator - that is more accurate and more GPS friendly than the Irish Grid Reference system. This will be used on the next generation of Irish OS maps.

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