The Ruins of Black Rock Castle
The first evidence of human presence in Ireland may date to around 10,500 to 8,000 BC. The receding of the ice after the Younger Dryas cold phase of the Quaternary around 9700 BC, heralds the beginning of Prehistoric Ireland, which includes the archaeological periods known as the Mesolithic, the Neolithic from about 4000 BC, the Copper and Bronze Age from about 2300 BC and Iron Age beginning about 4000 BC, the Copper and Bronze Age from about 2300 BC and Iron Age beginning about 600 BC. Ireland’s bronze age begins with the emergence of “protohistoric” Gaelic Ireland in the 2nd Millennium BC and ends with the arrival of Celtic la Tène culture by central Europe.
By the late 4th century AD Christianity had begun to gradually subsume or replace the earlier Celtic polytheism. By the end of the 6th century, it had introduced writing along with a predominantly monastic Celtic Christian church, profoundly altering Irish society. Viking raids and settlements from the late 8th century AD resulted in extensive cultural interchange, as well as innovation in military and transport technology. Many of Ireland’s towns were founded at this time as Viking trading posts and coinage made their first appearance. Viking penetration was limited and concentrated along coasts and rivers, and ceased to be a major threat to Gaelic culture after the Battle of Clontarf in 1014. The Norman invasion in 1169 resulted again in a partial conquest of the island and marked the beginning of more than 800 years of English political and military involvement in Ireland. Initially successful, Norman gains were rolled back over succeeding centuries as a Gaelic resurgence reestablished Gaelic cultural preeminence over most of the country, apart from the walled towns and the area around Dublin known as The Pale.
I took a stroll down the historical lane the other day and visited the Port of Wicklow Town. Judging from the pictures, appearing on the Information Board, it is quite a startling fact that these buildings could have been built so many years back. The area around Wicklow was referred to as Menapia in Ptolemy’s map which itself dates back to 130 AD. The Vikings landed in Ireland in 795 to begin their plundering of the land.
Situated on a rocky headland to the South of the estuary of the Vartry River in Wicklow Town, County Wicklow Ireland, stand the lone remains of Black Rock Castle. Said to be built by the Norman Baron Maurice Fitzgerald in the late 1200s.
The castle was built on the site of the original port occupied by the Vikings and who named it, ‘Vykyngelo’, being an old Viking word that means ‘Meadow of the Vikings’ in the 9th century. In the following years, it was captured successively by local Gaelic clans, the O’ Byrne’s and O’ Toole’s, then taken by the English King Edward 11 in 1311. Retaken once more By the local clans in 1313. Over the years the Viking name evolved to the present Wicklow.
My next visit will be to the Wicklow Gaol, once lockdown lifts and I shall give you a few more Irish History titbits
Picture Credits: Historical Information Board on Black Castle site.
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