Rock of Dunamase – in Irish Fort of Masc, or the rock fortress in Dunamase, is located near the N80 road between the cities of Portlaoise and Stradbally in the National Park of County Laois with a beautiful landscape on the Slieve Bloom mountains and on the important route between Carlow and Laois at an altitude of 46 meters above the plain,it was because of its strategic location that it played an important role in the invasion of Anglo-Norman knights.
Archaeological excavations were conducted there in the nineties by Brian Hodkinson showed that the fortress was first settled by Christians in the ninth century, then in the year 845 was captured and plundered by the Vikings from Dublin who attacked this area and killed abbot Terryglass .
During the excavations, a small collection of medieval pottery, iron artefacts, arrows, locks and keys were discovered.
Evidence was also found of the somewhat ominous activity in the form of human skulls that were placed along the defensive walls – most likely to deter rebels or criminals.
The castle itself was built in the 12th century and then it became an important fortification during the Normandy invasion, while the construction was cleverly used by the natural terrain and rock formations that met defensive functions.
The fortress changed owners many times until the fourteenth century, when it was probably abandoned and since then falls into ruin, although in the eighteenth century, Sir John Parnell intended to begin the construction of a banquet hall in the ruins using medieval architectural details coming from the area – unfortunately to no avail.
Although the current state is not delightful, Rocky Dunamase is definitely worth a visit.