The Anglo-Norman invasion of Ireland: Raymond le Gros’ fort at Baginbun.

In the second wave of the Anglo-Norman invasion of Ireland, Raymond le Gros and his small force landed at the promontory fort at Baginbun in Wexford in May 1170, and awaited the arrival of Strongbow and his army.

Google Earth image of the promontory fort at Baginbun.

The Anglo-Norman invasion of Ireland commenced with the landing of Robert fitz Stephen and Maurice de Prendergast at Bannow Bay in May 1169. The second wave of Anglo-Normans, lead by Raymond le Gros, landed about the 1st of May 1170 at Baginbun south of Fethard-on-Sea on the Hook Head peninsula in Wexford. Le Gross, who had 10 men at arms and 70 archers, was joined by Hervey de Montmorency with a few more, and established a defended camp at Baginbun constructed of banks and ditches with a palisade. Le Gros and his men were attacked at Baginbun by a combined force of 3,000 Norsemen drawn from the City of Waterford and their Irish allies. Although outnumbered the Normans managed to drive off the attackers and take prisoners. Le Gross remained at Baginbun until Strongbow, Richard fitz Gilbert de Clare, landed near Waterford on the 23rd of August with an army of 1,200 and their combined forces took the City of Waterford on the 25th of August.

Plan of the promontory fort at Baginbun after Westrop 1906.

It was not until 1898 that the location of Baginbun was identified in a paper read by Goddard Orpen to the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland. Orpen, on the basis of historical, literary, placename, folklore and topographical evidence identified the promontory fort of Dundonnell in Ramstown townland as the site of Baginbun.

Baginbun consists of two lines of fortifications. An outer perimeter 230m long that cuts off the main part of the headland, an area of 22 acres, with a high bank, a berm or fosse and a higher external bank. The inner and possibly earlier defences cut off the small promontory that juts out to the north-east. These defences consist of a deep ditch with high banks on the internal and external sides with a causewayed entrance.

Further Reading

Goddard H. Orpen 1898. Notes on certain promontory forts in the Counties of Waterford and Wexford. Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland, 5th series, Vol. 8, No. 2, 155-60.

T. J. Westrop 1906. Site of Raymond’s fort, Dundunnolf, Baginbun. Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland, 5th series, Vol. 8, No. 3, 239-58

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