Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Archaeology 360: Doe Castle, Co. Donegal

In the previous instalment to this series of 360-degree video posts I took you to see the remains of the Early Medieval house at Rinnaraw [here]. The back story to this was that I’d left the rest of the family on the beach at Portnablagh and walked back to Rinnaraw on my own. Partly, this was because I didn’t think they’d be all that interested in such an apparently ‘slight’ monument that would require trudging across a field to go see. The other part was that I felt the visit should be a solo encounter with the site and an opportunity for personal reflection and meditation, which is hard to achieve when each of the Chapples Minor are trying to throw the other off the edge of the precipice. All went well. I completed my filming and ruminations in perfect peace and eventually dandered back to where the rest of the family were on the beach. I had hoped that all would have run through their fascination with sand and seawater by now and we’d soon be on our way to see more archaeology. Turns out the Chapples Minor had other ideas. They actually like beaches and the sand and the water and all that awful stuff and they, if you don’t mind, would very much like to stay. I, I am afraid to say, greeted this with all the maturity and grace of the Elder Statesman of the profession on this island that I clearly am, and confined my rebuttals to heavy exasperated sighing and dramatic eye-rolls. My wife, ever the peacemaker, suggested that I might like … you know … to go see some archaeology … on my own … where I wasn’t being an egregious knob to our offspring. Like one of those cartoon characters that move so fast they leave a dust outline in the air long after they’ve sped away, I didn’t need to be asked twice and was on my way up the beach and back to the car in a twinkling. Not so long after that I was making my way through the tangle of back roads that eventually lead to Doe Castle.


The earliest parts of castle are probably of 15th century day and were constructed by members of the O’Donnell family, before (sometime in the 1440s) falling into the possession of what Wikipedia calls ‘the gallowgalss MacSweeny family’. It appears to have had a much-storied history before finally becoming a residence of the Vaughan Harts and was inhabited up until 1843. All this & more may be gleaned from the Wikipedia entry, including the fact that its most recent claim to fame is that ‘Irish singer Brian McFadden proposed to his (now ex-) wife, Kerry Katona, at the castle in 2001, it being the spot where his grandfather also had proposed to his grandmother’. So there’s that …


Personally, I had a great time at the castle and I do believe that the Chapples Minor missed out on a wonderful experience by not coming along. Either way, I returned to the embrace of my family on Portnablagh beach. I was happy and contented, having seen some great archaeology and they were happily exhausted from cavorting in the surf.

You can view it on an ordinary browser or on the dedicated YouTube app, but for best results we recommend the immersive experience that comes with an Oculus/Google Cardboard headset. Please feel free to Like and Share the video and Subscribe to the Archaeology 360 channel. If you’re feeling peculiarly generous and wish to help purchase snacks to sustain the Chapples Minor in the field, please drop something in the Tip Jar on the top right of this page.