Anglo-Normans And The Creation Of Modern Louth

Over the course of the exhibition the importance of relying on one set of evidence to understand what happened has been highlighted. What happens when both the documentary and physical evidence are in plentiful supply? This is best illustrated with the arrival of Edward Bruce to Ireland and Fort Hill in particular.

Fort Hill - 14th century

The Physical Evidence
Fort Hill was converted into a motte and bailey during the early 14th century. The new motte was designed to control the roads to the north and north-west and strengthen the mottes of Du'n Dealgan and Faughart Upper. The hill was re-cut to form a defendable height and an enclosure formed the bailey. A circular building on the hilltop gave an Iron Age radiocarbon date. However, there was clearly a medieval building on this spot as seen by food waste found in the nearby ditch. A second building was implied by a similar quantity of food waste in the bailey ditch. In the middle of the bailey was a large wood lined cess pit.

Fort Hill - 14th century

Testimonial Evidence
Edward Bruce, brother to Scottish King Robert Bruce, began a campaign in Ireland in support of his brother's War of Scottish Independence. In June 1315, at the start of his Irish campaign, Edward sacked Dundalk, where there was a general slaughter of both Anglo-Irish and Gaelic townsfolk. After several more battles, Edward was proclaimed High King of Ireland at Dundalk on 2nd May 1316.

On 14th October 1318, Edward Bruce met his match at the Battle of Faughart, just north of Dundalk. The Annals of Ulster record: "Edward de Brus, the destroyer of Ireland in general, both Foreigners and Gaels, was killed by the Foreigners of Ireland by dint of fighting at Dun-Delgan. And there was not done from the beginning of the world a deed that was better for the Men of Ireland. For there came death and loss of people for three years and a half and people undoubtedly used to eat each other throughout Ireland."

When and why was Louth formed as one county?
Louth was formed during the medieval period. It was founded by the Anglo- Normans to provide food for the area known as the Pale. North Louth was too small to run itself, so it was tied to south Louth through Government policy. Even so, North Louth continued to be referred to as part of Ulster until 1600.

ASI: What to look for: the clue is in the name?
Fort Hill is marked as a 'Fort' on the 1835 Ordnance Survey of Ireland. It lies in the grounds of 'Fort Hill House'. Here was a big clue that something was here. But the hilltop had been levelled during the 1840's when converted into a gazebo. It was not until the grass was removed that the site revealed itself.