The way of life of the area was dealt a major blow by the coming of the Anglo-Normans to Ulster in 1177. This region was subjected to raids in the 1190's but it was to be 128 years before the most visible remnant of their time- Northburg Castle - was constructed by them across the Foyle in Greencastle. This was built in 1305 by Richard de Burgo, the 'Red Earl of Ulster'.
The O'Cahan's and O'Neill's, who controlled the Limavady area, are recorded as being defeated in 1260 and by 1333 a 'Manor of the Roo' is mentioned in documents. This had two water mills and reflects the creation of a manorial system with a lord and his family supported by tenants who provided him with a share of their produce and who were tied to have their corn ground at the lots mills.
Ballycastle a slight rise near the head of the River Roe is understood to be the location of the Manor House, at that time probably a 'motte' (a steep manmade hill defended by a timber palisade). Some remains of a stone castle were recoded here in the twentieth century, but they are now gone and were probably remains of the Haberdashers bawn that was also built here during the Ulster Plantation following 1613.
Another potential remnant of the Normans is Drumahose Church. This is significantly larger than the other medieval churches in the valley. This may reflect a larger population but is more likely to reflect a different approach, with the congregation inside the church rather than outside. A similar sized church can be seen in Greencastle.
The Campaign of Edward the Bruce from 1315-19, however, fatally weakened Norman power in Ulster outside of Carrickfergus and it was not long before the O'Cahan's were back in power in this area.
By the fifteenth century stone fortifications were becoming much more common. The preferred form was the regular stone tower house with thick stone walls often with a vaulted stone ground floor (resistant to fire) a main hall at first floor level and the lord’s rooms above. The only surviving example in the area was built by the O’Neill’s on Mc Hugh’s island, but there was also a tower built in Strabane in 1573, one in Dunnalong (1568) and one built by the O’Donnell’s in Lifford in 1527. The O’Neills also captured one from the O’Donnells at Castlederg in 1497.
Northburg Castle, Greencastle
Drumahose Church, Drenagh
Tower house, Island McHugh, Baronscourt