The Rock of Dunamase – Laois, Ireland - Atlas Obscura

The Rock of Dunamase

Laois, Ireland

A rocky Irish outcropping with a history of wealth, conflict, and ruin. 


Despite multiple attempts to build castles and military posts on the site, the Rock of Dunamase does not seem able to sustain any permanent structures and is now a ruin strewn archeological site.

In County Laois, Ireland, a rocky outcrop towers over the agricultural landscape, crowned with ruins dating back hundreds of years. Previously the site of an Iron Age hill fort that was conquered by Vikings in 845 AD, the Rock of Dunamase was later home to a 12th century castle. However after passing down through a succession of wealthy families, by 1350 the former castle was just a ruin.  The rock and its crumbling castle sat unused for hundreds of years until military forces finally blew it up in 1650 to prevent its use during the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland.

Currently the site is home to the ruins of the earthworks of the former ring-fort as well as the castle ruins, which Sir John Parnell attempted to restore in the 18th century but failed to complete. Despite its storied history of wealth and conquest the hill that once seemed like a fine seat for a ruler is just home to the memory of defeat. 

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