Works to replace the roof of the Great Tower or Keep at Carrickfergus Castle enter a new phase this week with the arrival on site of the oak timber that will form the new roof.
The new timbers will be used to form the main structure of the new roof, which will be built using medieval woodworking and construction techniques. The work, which is part of a £1 million Capital investment funded and managed by the Department for Communities, will see the completion of the new roof in the Autumn of 2019.
The timbers that are arriving on site are of Irish Oak, felled during Storm Ophelia in 2017 in County Wicklow, and for the past four months they have been shaped and prepared in Devon for the new roof at Carrickfergus. They will be used to form the principal trusses of the roof, the main frame on which the rest of the roof will be fixed. The oak will be used ‘green’ and the trusses will be oak-pegged without the use of nails or metal fixings to hold them together. In the first two weeks of July the skeleton of the new roof will take shape once these trusses have been lowered into place. Once this piece of work has been completed the rest of the roof will be constructed as a series of open trusses and rafters carrying oak boards. Externally the roof will be finished in Cumbrian stone slates and lead.
The project will be managed by the Department for Communities Historic Environment Division. Its Director Iain Greenway said: “The new roof at Carrickfergus Castle is really starting to take shape. This is one of our best-known and most-visited historic monuments. The project to construct the roof has already led to new discoveries about the history of the castle. Works are progressing according to programme and budget, with officials and contractors working closely together to move the project forward.
“The external appearance of the Castle will not look significantly different from ground level as the roof will be behind the battlements. However, internally, the Great Hall at the top of the Tower will be transformed into a higher, brighter and more historically resonant space. The keep will also be warmer and drier allowing the full use of the space for historic artefacts, displays and functions.”
Iain continued: “Now that the timbers have arrived on site, visitors will get a better idea about how the new roof will look once it is completed. A full-sized proto-type of the trusses that will be built has been put in place at ground level within the castle grounds, and we have been able to maintain public access to most of the castle complex throughout the project.”
For those unable to make it in person to castle, regular updates including time-lapse video footage will be available on the LoveHeritageNI Facebook page
Notes to editors:
- Photos are available of the works upon request.
- Carrickfergus Castle is one of Northern Ireland’s best-known historic monuments. It has been in State Care since 1928, and is now managed by the Historic Environment Division of the Department for Communities.
- The castle was founded in the late twelfth century by John de Courcy, a young Anglo-Norman knight who led a military expedition into Ulster.
- Carrickfergus Castle has been enlarged and reinforced over the centuries, and remained a military site until 1928, when it was passed into State Care. It is one of the most complete examples of Norman architecture in Northern Ireland, and one of the most complete castles of its type in Britain or Ireland.
- The works are being led by Historic Environment Division, and are intended to secure the integrity of the keep against leaks for several generations and allow a programme of further interpretive and conservation works to take place.
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