Archeological Survey To Be Carried Out At Gallows Hill, Dungarvan

A Motte and Bailey Fortification Copyright 2002 by Jeffrey L. Thomas
On the 11th and 12th July the first geophysical survey of Gallows Hill will begin to answer the speculation that has surrounded the mound for centuries. Speculation has included its use as a gallows, medieval Norman Bailey Castle (Motte and Bailey), Bronze Age barrow, or the Fort/Dun from where Dungarvan is named. As part of July’s 800 year celebration of Dungarvan’s Town Charter, Waterford County Museum in association with residents from the surrounding area have organised a Community Archaeology Project that will attempt to find the answer.

When, after the Norman invasion of Ireland in 1179 resulted in the establishment of a strong base in the city of Waterford. The Normans viewed the Dungarvan area as the gateway through which expansion into Munster by way of the Blackwater Valley could be most easily achieved. With the establishment of the town came the need for an initial defensive structure known as a Motte and Bailey. The structure was made up of a wooden stockade and living quarters on top of a mound within a larger stockade yard at surface level, all surrounded by a defensive ditch.

Gallows Hill is believed by the National Monuments Service to potentially be such a 12th century Norman Motte and Bailey type fortification. The aim of the Gallows Hill Community Archaeology Project is to test the theory with a geophysical survey of the Hill with the help of community Geophysicist Kevin Barton and members of the local community. Geophysical survey is a technique which allows Archaeologists to create maps of archaeological features and traces of human activities beneath the earth’s soil without carrying out an excavation. The results of the survey planned on Gallows Hill could help to establish it as Dungarvan’s oldest standing monument.

The weekend of discovery will commence Friday 10th July at 7pm with a talk by Geophysicist Kevin Barton in the Town Hall. The survey will run all day on Saturday 11th and Sunday 12th. Children’s activities will run alongside the project at the Town hall and on site, including a mock dig, Motte/Bailey model making and painting. The day will conclude with a talk/demonstration by Kevin Barton in the afternoon. Unfortunately numbers that can take part in the survey will be limited so do contact the Museum if you live close to the mound and want to get hands on experience. For more information or to register your interest in taking part contact: Waterford County Museum, Friary Street, Phone: 058 45960, Email:

The Gallows Hill project has been funded by Waterford City and County Council.