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History and Heritage

Carrickfergus Town Walls

Photograph of the top of a section of the Carrickfergus Town Walls

The town was first protected by earth ditches in the medieval period to defend the growing settlement surrounding the Castle. The defensive earth ditch and bank walls were partially replaced in stone in the late 1500's.

Carrickfergus Walking Tours Booklet

Queen Elizabeth I had promised that the earthen walls would be replaced in stone and this work was started in 1608 under the direction of Sir Arthur Chichester. 100 men began work that summer and continued each summer until the walls were complete in 1615.

The method of working was to first encircle the town with a low wall up to three metres thick on very strong foundations and then build higher each year resulting in the 'banded' effect now visible, especially at Joymount.

The completed stone walls were 1159 metres long and over six metres high with four gates, Irish Gate and North Gate - both of which had moats and drawbridges, Quay Gate and the smaller Water Gate. In addition to the gates, seven protective bastions were strategically positioned along the length of the walls.

The walls not only provided protection but also allowed for strict control of tolls and taxes on goods within the town and enabled curfews on those entering or living in the town to be more easily managed.

During the 1641 rebellion the security afforded by the walls meant that Carrickfergus was one of the few Ulster towns to escape attack, consequently it was one of the chief places of refuge in the North of Ireland.

Location:

For directions and guidance on viewing the Carrickfergus Town Walls please visit our Visitor Information Centre