The Rath Turtle Ringwork near Blessington, Co. Wicklow
On a high ridge in Glen Ding Wood overlooking the town of Blessington and the road to Naas is a large Medieval Ringwork castle known as Rath Turtle Moat.

Aerial view of Rath Turtle Moat, Co. Wicklow. Originally published in The Archaeological Inventory of County Wicklow. Government of Ireland 1997.

The site is accessed from a small parking area on the R410 Blessington to Naas Road on the northern side of the ridge. From here a paved forest track leads around to the southern end of the ridge. Follow this path for 400m and Rath Turtle Moat is a steep climb to a clearing in the forestry on the top of the ridge. The ascent is steep and the ground slippery so climbing to the top is only recommended for hardy visitors with the correct footwear. The site is becoming overgrown with ferns and thorn bushes which makes gaining access to the interior a little difficult.

The Ringwork is oval 49 x 36m in internal diameter and consists of a raised central area enclosed by a high earthen bank an external fosse or ditch and an external bank. The site entrance is on the southern side and has a causeway across the ditch. The site has a spectacular view of Blessington and the Blessington Lake.

Ringwork castles were built by the Anglo-Normans in the earlier phases of their conquest of Ireland. They usually had a wooden gate tower, with stone-lined causewayed entrance and stone-lined banks which were topped by a wooden palisade.

It’s not certain who built Rath Turtle Moat. The name Rath Turtle preserves the name of the Mac Torcaill dynasty of twelfth century Dublin. Ascall Mac Torcaill was the last Viking King of Dublin deposed by the Anglo-Normans in 1171. The name suggests that the site may have been an eleventh or twelfth century outpost of the Dublin Vikings that was modified for use by the Anglo-Normans.

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GPS coordinates of Rath Turtle Moat 53.179395,-6.557808

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