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Irish Round Towers

7 6 Irish monasteries were genuine centres of knowledge and inventiveness. In the sixth century they encouraged an agricultural revolution, with Romanstyle tools, mills, cattle and crops. A century later, one of them, Nendrum, built the earliest known tidal mill in the world. These advances went hand in hand with the production of spectacular artworks, like the Book of Kells, the Ardagh chalice and the High Crosses, the largest sculptured monuments of ninth century Europe. It is therefore not so surprising that the monasteries threw themselves so enthusiastically into something so novel as tower building in the tenth century. The use of mortar had just reached Ireland, so the towers appear during a general architectural revolution and the building of the countrys first big churches, such as the cathedral at Clonmacnoise. Today these towers often stand in obscure places, but a thousand years ago these were prestige sites, places like the tiny hamlet of Armoy, in county Antrim, which was then the royal seat of the kingdom of Dalriada, or deserted Monasterboice, one of the chief monasteries of Leinster. Several other towers must have had similar remarkable origins, though now they stand forlorn, the reasons for their existence lost beyond recall. MIlls, Mortar MonasterIes Ireland acquires some Roman technologies Drumeskin Antrim Devenish Roscrea Abernethy Kells
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