Roscomroe Ecclesiastical Site

By February 19, 2019 May 30th, 2019 Research Projects

In the townland of Roscomroe, situated to the northeast of Roscrea, southeast of the Slieve Bloom Mountains, on a bend on the River Camcor is the multi-period site of Roscomroe (OF039-055: 001-005). The visible remains include the ruins of a medieval church and a well. The site is reputed to have originally been one of the monasteries founded by St. Molua in the 6th century AD/CE. This attribution persists in local tradition, including in the site’s ‘Pattern’ (the celebration of a Saint’s feast day) at the well on 4th of August each year. There is also a rag tree present at the site.

The extant church remains at the site include a west gable wall, with a destroyed window and bellcote, as well as the west end of the north and south walls. The remainder of the church is represented by wall footings. The surviving remains include Romanesque architectural fragments, indicating a 12th century (AD/CE) date. In 1830, stone was taken from this church to construct the nearby Roman Catholic church of Roscomroe. To the north of the site is a possible mill pond; a mill stone in the graveyard has also been re-used as a grave marker. There is a tradition that, in the 16th century, the abbot of Roscomroe was taken and killed by the soldiers of Elizabeth I, led by Cromwell, but that he hid the monasteries treasures in the mill pond before they could be taken.

Geophysical survey by Ashely Green (Bournemouth University) and the IAFS was undertaken at the site in June 2017, at the request of Offaly County Council. Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) and Resistivity techniques were employed. The survey revealed evidence of modern features, as well as a possible structure and a curvilinear response/feature, enclosing the church, which could represent an earlier enclosure, possibly dating from the early medieval period.

Read More

Green, A. 2017. Roscomroe Church, Roscomroe, Roscrea, the Leap, Co. Offaly: Geophysical Survey Report. Unpublished technical report, available on request.