Castle Hill, Ardkeen

Map Reference: J593571 (3593, 3571)

The earthwork at Ardkeen stands on the summit of Castle Hill on a peninsula on the east coast of Strangford Lough. It comprises a mound enclosed on the north and east by a ditch. It is about 6m high with a slight enclosing ditch and is oval at the top with a maximum width of about 38m. It is possibly a platform-type rath which was adapted as a castle-mound.

The outer ditch, with a slight bank outside, has a maximum overall width of about 19m. It stands between 30 and 70m from the mound. It is broken on the east by a causeway facing the approach from the mainland. During the 16th a small tower-house was built on the mound. Some fragments of the lower courses of this building can still be seen. These include the bottom steps of a spiral stairway in the south corner.

To the south of the earthwork is Ardkeen Church. It may have been built in the 13th century and was modified in the 18th century. At measures about 16m by 6.5m internally. The east and west walls are about 1m thick and the other walls are less substantial.

The east and south windows (now blocked) were large round-headed openings which date from the 18th century. Two small original lancet windows remain in the north wall and there is a small gothic wall-cupboard in the east wall.

A medieval coffin-lid of Scrabo sandstone has been erected against the east wall. It originally featured a floreated cross but is now greatly weathered.

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