Top Historic Sights in Downpatrick, United Kingdom

Explore the historic highlights of Downpatrick

St. Patrick's Grave

Outside Down Cathedral on the highest part of Cathedral Hill lies the grave of Saint Patrick, the apostle of Ireland. By the early medieval period Patrick’s grave had become an important site for the developing church and an important monastery had grown around it. At this time the tradition of the hill being the burial place of saints Brigid and Columcille had been added to the legend of Patrick, giving rise to the wel ...
Founded: 5th century AD | Location: Downpatrick, United Kingdom

Down Cathedral

Down Cathedral location is an ancient ecclesiastical site dedicated to the Holy Trinity recorded in the 12th century. In 1124 St Malachy became Bishop of Down, and set about repairing and enlarging the Cathedral. In 1177, Sir John de Courcy (Norman conqueror of Ulster) brought in Benedictine monks and expelled Augustinian monks settled there by St Malachy. De Courcy, who had enraged the king by his seizure of la ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Downpatrick, United Kingdom

Ballynoe Stone Circle

Ballynoe Stone Circle is a large and complex site which appears as a large circle of over 50 closely spaced upright stones, some as much as six feet tall, with some small gaps, surrounding a space about 110 ft across. Two of the fallen stones have cavities which could be artificial cup-marks. The stones of the outer circle are nearly all composed of local Silurian grit, but a few are granite erratics. Two of the stone ...
Founded: 3000 BCE | Location: Downpatrick, United Kingdom

Audley's Castle

Audley"s Castle is a three-storey tower house named after its 16th century owner, John Audley. There are thousands of small stone towers similar to Audley"s Castle in the Irish countryside. They are one of the commonest of archaeological sites, which indicates these were not buildings put up for the higher aristocracy, but for lesser lords and gentry. Most were built in the late Middle Ages (roughly 13 ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Downpatrick, United Kingdom

Inch Abbey

Inch Abbey is a large, ruined monastic site north-west of Downpatrick. The site was originally on an island in the Quoile Marshes. The pre-Norman Celtic monastic settlement here was in existence by the year 800. In 1002 it was plundered by the Vikings. The Vikings plundered the settlement again in 1149. Its large earthwork enclosure has been traced from aerial photographs. On the ground, the early bank and ditch ca ...
Founded: 1180 | Location: Downpatrick, United Kingdom

Quoile Castle

Quoile Castle is a 16th-century tower house, which was inhabited into the 18th century. The south corner of the building has fallen down and shows a cross-section of the castle. In the north east wall the doorway has been rebuilt and gives access to a straight mural stairway. This is protected by murder-holes at the bottom and at the top. The inner doorway at the ground floor opens into a chamber with a stone vault an ...
Founded: 16th century | Location: Downpatrick, United Kingdom

Struell Wells

Of all the wells throughout Ireland dedicated to Saint Patrick, the Struell wells must be the most famous. It is said that Saint Patrick travelled throughout Ireland using wells to baptize his new converts and in some cases to demonstrate the power of God with healing acts or with expressions of powerful piety and dedication. At Struell wells, there is a story of how Patrick used to bathe under a fountain of flowing water ...
Founded: 17th century | Location: Downpatrick, United Kingdom

Annadorn Dolmen

Annadorn dolmen has a large, low, slightly displaced capstone about 65 cm thick covering a rectangular chamber and supported by three stones about 60 cm high. An account of 1802 suggests that it was formerly set beneath a large rectangular cairn 60 ft in diameter and approached by a lintelled passage, so it could be the remains of a passage grave. Another possible explanation could be that the supporting stones were o ...
Founded: Prehistoric | Location: Downpatrick, United Kingdom

Audleystown Court Cairn

Audleystown Court Cairn is a dual court grave situated near the south shore of Strangford Lough. It is a, now roofless, trapezoidal long cairn, with the sides revetted by dry-stone walling almost 27m long and a shallow forecourt at each end opening into a burial gallery of four chambers.  
Founded: Prehistoric | Location: Downpatrick, United Kingdom

Mound of Down

The Mound of Down is an ancient monument which gives County Down its name. Originally the home of Celtair - Rath Celtair - this became a stronghold for the Dál Fiatach, a powerful army who once owned the Isle of Man. It is a good example of an Iron Age defensive earthwork in the middle of which a Norman Motte and Bailey was built by John de Courcy after his defeat of Rory Mac Donlevy in 1177. Originally on the sh ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Downpatrick, United Kingdom

Loughinisland Churches

The Loughinisland Churches are the remains of three ruined churches, dating from the 13th to the 17th centuries. They are situated in Tievenadarragh townland, in a large graveyard on an island in Loughinisland Lake, now reached by a causeway. The earliest recorded reference is to a parish church on the site in 1306. The Middle Church is the oldest, probably from the 13th century. The large North Church was built in t ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Downpatrick, United Kingdom

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Glimmingehus

Glimmingehus is the best preserved medieval stronghold in Scandinavia. It was built 1499-1506, during an era when Scania formed a vital part of Denmark, and contains many defensive arrangements of the era, such as parapets, false doors and dead-end corridors, 'murder-holes' for pouring boiling pitch over the attackers, moats, drawbridges and various other forms of death traps to surprise trespassers and protect the nobles against peasant uprisings. The lower part of the castle's stone walls are 2.4 meters (94 inches) thick and the upper part 1.8 meters (71 inches).

Construction was started in 1499 by the Danish knight Jens Holgersen Ulfstand and stone-cutter-mason and architect Adam van Düren, a North German master who also worked on Lund Cathedral. Construction was completed in 1506.

Ulfstand was a councillor, nobleman and admiral serving under John I of Denmark and many objects have been uncovered during archeological excavations that demonstrate the extravagant lifestyle of the knight's family at Glimmingehus up until Ulfstand's death in 1523. Some of the most expensive objects for sale in Europe during this period, such as Venetian glass, painted glass from the Rhine district and Spanish ceramics have been found here. Evidence of the family's wealth can also be seen inside the stone fortress, where everyday comforts for the knight's family included hot air channels in the walls and bench seats in the window recesses. Although considered comfortable for its period, it has also been argued that Glimmingehus was an expression of "Knighthood nostalgia" and not considered opulent or progressive enough even to the knight's contemporaries and especially not to later generations of the Scanian nobility. Glimmingehus is thought to have served as a residential castle for only a few generations before being transformed into a storage facility for grain.

An order from Charles XI to the administrators of the Swedish dominion of Scania in 1676 to demolish the castle, in order to ensure that it would not fall into the hands of the Danish king during the Scanian War, could not be executed. A first attempt, in which 20 Scanian farmers were ordered to assist, proved unsuccessful. An additional force of 130 men were sent to Glimmingehus to execute the order in a second attempt. However, before they could carry out the order, a Danish-Dutch naval division arrived in Ystad, and the Swedes had to abandon the demolition attempts. Throughout the 18th century the castle was used as deposit for agricultural produce and in 1924 it was donated to the Swedish state. Today it is administered by the Swedish National Heritage Board.

On site there is a museum, medieval kitchen, shop and restaurant and coffee house. During summer time there are several guided tours daily. In local folklore, the castle is described as haunted by multiple ghosts and the tradition of storytelling inspired by the castle is continued in the summer events at the castle called "Strange stories and terrifying tales".