TRIM CASTLE - COUNTY MEATH, IRELAND
Trim castle is located above the banks of the River Boyne, and covers more than three acres. Its main, large square keep, which is relatively isolated from the rest of the structures, is twenty-five meters tall and has walls eleven feet thick. This keep, also called a donjon, has four smaller square towers on each of its sides (only three of which remain). The towers have thin walls (which were not good defensively) and were added for either extra rooms or simply for the sake of appearance. Inside the main keep there are three levels. The first and second levels were split in half by a central wall, while the third was left open and was probably used as the lord’s chamber. The keep also contained a public hall, great chambers, a chapel, and quarters for a chaplain, officials, and a small garrison. It also contained cellars full of food so that the keep could withstand a long siege. The keep was most likely surrounded by a stone enclosure with stables and stores. Three defensive towers were later built around this area. The one entrance is on the main floor of the east tower, below the chapel. In the southwest and northeast corners of the keep are winding staircases that lead to the three levels. The thin walls of the towers and the weakly guarded east tower entrance left the castle weakly defended. This weakness was recognized and remedied late in the 13th century with the construction of a towered screen wall in front of the entrance for added protection.
The great outer curtain wall, two-thirds of which still stand today, is 500 meters long and forms a triangle-shape around the keep. It contains eight towers and two main gatehouses. It is said to “provide the front and real strength of the castle” (McNeill 24). The wall is studded with towers, and it contains two levels of arrow loops (holes through which weapons could be fired). The wall has two large gate towers: the west gate facing the town is also known as Trim Gate, and serves as the main entrance. Chambers connecting to this gate contained accommodations for guards and a prison. The south gate facing the countryside and Dublin is known as the Barbican gate or Dublin gate (so named because it connects to a road that leads to Dublin). The gatehouses were each protected by a barbican, drawbridge, portcullis (a type of wooden gate), and murder hole. The best remaining part of the wall stretches from the River Boyne through Dublin Gate to Castle Street. On the edge along the riverfront, the wall contains rectangular towers, but along the south wall to the part facing Dublin, the towers are D-shaped. This had led some to conclude that these towers were constructed at different times. Along the riverfront stands the River Gate, which was built to allow for deliveries from boats, which could be moored in the harbor this created. This gate connected to the Great hall and to the Solar. The Solar, also called Magdalen tower, is the northern-most tower on the curtain wall and also the strongest. It defended the ford on the Boyne River. It had four floors, latrines, was heated, and contained lodgings.
It is thought that the Great Hall of this castle once stood near the north tower, and they may have been connected. The Hall had a good view of the harbor and of the Abbey of St. Mary’s across the river, of which the Yellow Tower still survives today. In the north corner of the enclosed area, next to the Great Hall, there is a church, and facing the river is the Royal Mint, which produced Patricks and Irelands, types of coins, up until sometime in the 15th century. Many other structures would have been found within the curtain walls, including three limestone kilns, 14th century houses, a well, and even public toilets.