From the North


Round Tower and Church

Based on the presence of the round tower, it is believed that the Agherviller monastic settlement was once a relatively high-status ecclesiastical foundation dating back to Early Christian times. The church and a holy well not far from the site have been dedicated to St Brennain. We don't know who founded the monastery but it could have been St Brennain. The round tower is built on top of a square stone plinth, an unusual feature which is only found in one other place in Ireland --at nearby Kilree. Sadly, only the lower 9.6 metres of the round tower survived. The original NE facing round-arched doorway is in its customary location about 4 metres above ground level, although a ground-level lintelled doorway has been added in more recent times. The sandstone tower was unfortunately in deep shade from the nearby dense woods on our late afternoon visit, but it is worth a return trip in morning light to photograph the stonework which is beautifully dressed to the curve inside and out. There is a southwest facing square-headed window at the second storey level. The church dates to the 12th Century but was significantly modified in the 15th by the addition of a massive tower over the chancel that served as a residence. Only the foundation of the nave remains. An archaeological excavation revealed a gully filled with kiln material and a sizeable ditch/boundary running north–south with stone revetting on its eastern side. This ditch is believed to have surrounded a second or outer enclosure, a common feature of high-status monastic sites.

Situated: From Kilkenny take the N10 south for 17 kilometres to Knocktopher. Then turn right onto the R699. Drive for 4 kilometres to Aghaviller. As the main road turns here go straight on up the smaller road. The site is on your right 50 metres up this road.

Discovery Map 67: S 4972 3518. Last visit March 2011.

Longitude: 7° 16' 6 " W

Latitude: 52° 27' 57" N

Google Map

Photos: Jim Dempsey and Deb Snelson.

Approx date of Tower: 11th Century

Dimensions: Height 9.6m. Diameter: 4.92 m

Door: About 4m. Type: Arched.

Windows: None

Features: A square plinth visible beneath the offset.

Cap: Missing

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