The Irish tower house

Society, economy and environment, c. 1300-1650

By Victoria L. McAlister

The Irish tower house


  • Hardcover
  • eBook

Book Information

  • Format: Paperback
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-5593-1
  • Pages: 288
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £26.00
  • Published Date: April 2021
  • BIC Category: Ireland, Irish History, Irish Studies, Medieval History, European history: medieval period, middle ages, History, Archaeology, Early 17th century c 1600 to c 1650, 14th century, c 1300 to c 1399, Material culture, Architecture: castles & fortifications, Archaeology by period / region, HISTORY / Europe / Ireland, HISTORY / Medieval, SOCIAL SCIENCE / Archaeology, Ireland, Humanities / Medieval history, Humanities / Archaeology, Medieval European Archaeology
  • Series: Social Archaeology and Material Worlds


The Irish tower house examines the social role of castles in late-medieval and early modern Ireland. It uses a multidisciplinary methodology to uncover the lived experience of this historic culture, demonstrating the interconnectedness of society, economics and the environment. Of particular interest is the revelation of how concerned pre-modern people were with participation in the economy and the exploitation of the natural environment for economic gain. Material culture can shed light on how individuals shaped spaces around themselves, and tower houses, thanks to their pervasiveness in medieval and modern landscapes, represent a unique resource. Castles are the definitive building of the European Middle Ages, meaning that this book will be of great interest to scholars of both history and archaeology.


'This is a well-produced and attractive book, and McAlister has demonstrated her ability to write in a clear and accessible fashion, creating a text that is sure to be consulted by anyone engaged in the study of castles in late medieval Ireland.'

'This is an informative and refreshing approach to tower house studies [.] This will become an important book for anyone studying many aspects of medieval and early modern Ireland.'
Ulster Archaeological Society

' This book deserves to be read and absorbed by anybody interested in medieval Ireland, its architecture and its economy. McAlister is to be congratulated.'
Irish Arts Review


1 Around the castle wall: the tower house complex and rural settlement
2 The medieval agrarian economy: lifeblood of the tower house
3 Rivers in pre-modern Ireland: environment and economy
4 Movement, transport and communication: tower houses and waterways
5 'Urban' tower houses
6 Tower houses, late medieval Ireland and the connection with the wider world
Conclusion: the social, economic and environmental contexts of the Irish tower house


Victoria L. McAlister is Assistant Professor of History at Southeast Missouri State University

Newsletter Sign Up

Manchester University Press

Your cart is empty.

Select your shipping destination to estimate postage costs

(Based on standard shipping costs)

Final cost calculated on checkout
Promotional codes can be added on Checkout