One of Mid and East Antrim's best-known attractions will see work carried out to replace the roof of the Great Tower or Keep at Carrickfergus Castle as the oak timer arrives this week that will form the new roof.
The new timbers will be used to form the main structure of the new roof, which will be built using medieval woodworking and construction techniques. The work, which is part of a £1 million Capital investment funded and managed by the Department for Communities, will see the completion of the new roof in the autumn of 2019.
Mayor of Mid and East Antrim Councillor Maureen Morrow said: "I am delighted to hear that the work to replace the roof of the Great Tower or Keep at Carrickfergus Castle is progressing well. The work involved in the restoration and conservation of this building involves skill and expertise, with officials and contractors working closely together on this project. This development will further enhance one of Northern Ireland's most iconic tourist attractions. It will ultimately increase footfall and will provide a welcome boost to the Carrickfergus area."
I look forward to seeing the new roof take shape in the coming months. The castle is such an iconic building and the restoration of
The timbers that are arriving on site are of Irish Oak, felled during Storm Ophelia in 2017 in County Wicklow, and for the past four months they have been shaped and prepared in Devon for the new roof at Carrickfergus. They will be used to form the principal trusses of the roof, the main frame on which the rest of the roof will be fixed. The oak will be used 'green' and the trusses will be oak-pegged without the use of nails or metal fixings to hold them together. In the first two weeks of July the skeleton of the new roof will take shape once these trusses have been lowered into place. Once this piece of work has been completed the rest of the roof will be constructed as a series of open trusses and rafters carrying oak boards. Externally the roof will be finished in Cumbrian stone slates and lead.
The project will be managed by the Department for Communities Historic Environment Division. Its Director Iain Greenway said: "The new roof at Carrickfergus Castle is really starting to take shape. This is one of our best-known and most-visited historic monuments. The project to construct the roof has already led to new discoveries about the history of the castle. Works are progressing according to programme and budget, with officials and contractors working closely together to move the project forward.
"The external appearance of the Castle will not look significantly different from ground level as the roof will be behind the battlements. However, internally, the Great Hall at the top of the Tower will be transformed into a higher, brighter and more historically resonant space. The keep will also be warmer and drier allowing the full use of the space for historic artefacts, displays and functions."
Iain continued: "Now that the timbers have arrived on site, visitors will get a better idea about how the new roof will look once it is completed. A full-sized proto-type of the trusses that will be built has been put in place at ground level within the castle grounds, and we have been able to maintain public access to most of the castle complex throughout the project."
For those unable to make it in person to castle, regular updates including time-lapse video footage will be available on the LoveHeritageNI Facebook page