A plantation is normally understood to be a large area of land organised to produce a cash crop such as bananas or cotton. It is often carved out of a jungle or other such ‘unproductive’ area. In Ireland, in the seventeenth century, it meant a similar thing i.e. the organised settlement of land with people from England and lowland Scotland, to bring what was considered an unproductive area into the wider economy.
The City of London was reluctantly persuaded by the King to carry out the work in the newly created county of ‘Londonderry’. 12 Merchant Companies received extensive lands but had to comply with strict conditions including the construction of two
defensible ‘bawns’ on each of their ‘proportions’. This is Brackfield Bawn on the Skinner’s proportion halfway from the city to Dungiven. It was a stone built house with a courtyard in front defended by circular towers or ‘flankers’ at the corners.
The 12 companies came together to build new towns at Derry and Coleraine creating a new company for the purpose: The Honourable the Irish Society. This is a copy of a plan of the new city of ‘Londonderry’ drawn in 1625. The grid iron layout influenced by Roman plans via the Renaissance can be clearly seen. The focus is
the market square and not the church as befitting a post-Medieval city. It is an ‘ideal’ plan for a new frontier settlement testing out the latest urban theories. The stone walls around it likewise show the influence of continental ideas. They are low and thick to absorb cannon fire and provided with angular ‘bastions’ to permit flanking fire along the wall.