This area known locally as the Round Hill of Lismore, hidden in the trees is the site of a motte and bailey castle, built by King John of England in the late 12th century. The bailey was a fenced yard containing most of the castle buildings. A narrow footbridge rose from here to the motte, a carefully layered mound topped with a wooden tower or hall, or both.
In 1185 King John built three new castles to protect the borders of his province in East Munster, at Ardfinnan, Co. Tipperary, Dungarvan and here at Lismore Co. Waterford. King John’s motte and bailey castle at the Round Hill was made of timber and earth. These structures were quick to build, but the woodwork rotted over time and was normally replaced with masonry but this did not happen at Lismore.
King John chose this hilltop site by a river crossing 1.6km downstream of the old monastic town of Lismore, and may have intended to create a new town. However this motte and bailey castle was overrun and abandoned four years after it was constructed. Lismore continued to grow at its original location around the Cathedral of St Carthage or Mochuda. In time a stone building was erected near the cathedral, and this developed into the Lismore Castle we have today.
At the start of the 17th century, and probably for centuries before, the Round Hill was a rabbit warren. In 1603 it supplied ten conyes (rabbits) per week every week from midsummer to the start of February for the Earl of Cork, in residence at Lismore Castle.
Lismore Heritage Centre adopted the Round Hill as part of the Heritage Council’s Adopt a Monument Scheme in 2016. As part of this scheme, reports have been gathered on the history, geology, geomorphology and ecology of the site, and a small geophysical survey was carried out in 2016 and 2017.
Visit www.discoverlismore.com for further information.