Kells Round Tower

Kells Round Tower (HMHK1)

Location: Milford, Meath 06460 Meath
Country: Ireland
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N 53° 43.646', W 6° 52.862'

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Kells Heritage Trail

This tower is located on the grounds of St Columba's church and was built in the 10th century as part of the early Christian monastery. Such towers were referred to as a cloigteach meaning bell tower. Modelled on early Italian belfries, they were used as lookout towers and as places of refuge during attack, particularly from Norse invaders.

The tower is ninety feet high from the original street level to the base of its roof and has six floors but no internal staircase. Access to the upper floors was by way of ladders. Each floor has one window. The raised doorway strengthened the structure and made the tower more difficult to attack. Some of the doorway's stonework is new.

Kells Round Tower has a number of unusual features. It has five top windows instead of the usual four. These overlook the five ancient roads leading into town and correspond to the five medieval town gates - Canon, Carrick, Maudlin, Dublin and Farrell Gates. Whereas a tower doorway typically faces east in line with the east door of the associated church, the great stone church (damhlaig) of Kells, which had been built after the disastrous Norse raid of A.D. 920, had a west porticus or porch. This stone church had a south entrance corresponding then to the north door of the tower.

Sacred vessels and the Book of Kells were kept in in [sic] the porticus. It was from here that the Book of Kells was stolen in 1007. During this eventful century, Murdach Mac Flann Mac Maelseachlinn unwisely claimed the high kingship of Tara and was murdered in the tower in 1076.
HM NumberHMHK1
Placed ByMeath Tourism
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Monday, September 8th, 2014 at 7:54pm PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)29U E 639793 N 5955280
Decimal Degrees53.72743333, -6.88103333
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 53° 43.646', W 6° 52.862'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds53° 43' 38.76" N, 6° 52' 51.72" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)203
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 2-32 R163, Milford Meath 06460, IE
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