Back along the base of Inishowen to Derry, Elagh Castle is visible among the foothills. What remains is very fragmentary and looks like a circular tower house but some have speculated that there was once a second tower making a gatehouse similar to that at Harry Avery’s Castle in Co Tyrone. The castle was occupied by the O'Doherty’s at the time of the Ulster Plantation in the early Seventeenth century but the site appears have been occupied as a major defensive position since at least the early medieval period. Recent archaeological excavations discovered a ditch from this period and those involved have speculated that this, rather than Grianan, may have been the location of Alieach, one of the great royal sites of Ireland.
Nearby is another O'Doherty tower house. This one a little further south at Burt, is thought to have been built in the sixteenth century. Its design is Scottish. No other pre-Plantation example is recorded in Ulster. The closest equivalent has been identified as Claypotts near Dundee (Rowan, North West Ulster p 440). It is known as a z plan tower because it has round towers attached at two corners to allow flanking fire along the sides. In maps from the early seventeenth century, it is shown enclosed within a moat and bawn wall. Today, these are gone and it stands in splendid isolation as a ruin on top of a small hill
Marks of Time
Sketches of buildings in the North West of Ireland and further afield with a little information about their history.