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Historic Building Details

HB Ref No:
HB20/04/042 E

Extent of Listing:
Battery and terrace

Date of Construction:
1800 - 1819

Address :
Terrace Shane's Castle Park Antrim Co Antrim

Shane's Castle Park

Survey 2:

Date of Listing:
20/09/1974 00:00:00

Date of De-listing:

Current Use:
Garden Features

Former Use
Garden Features

Conservation Area:

Industrial Archaeology:





OS Map No:

IG Ref:
J1162 8792

Owner Category


Exterior Description And Setting

A long masonry-built battery and deep vaulted terrace surrounded on three sides by a parapet with embrasures for 21 cannons. Main front faces south. Built of regularly coursed basalt, inclining from the ground to a sandstone cordon under the parapet at an angle of about 80°, with sandstone dressings and more finely worked basalt above the cordon. At the right-hand extremity of the south front is a circular tower with a semi-circular arched sally-port and a narrow rectangular slit opening to the base on the east side and a narrow rectangular slit opening facing to the rear; the tower projects well above terrace level to a projecting crenellated parapet carried on mock machicolations, with a small central turret rising from its centre, with similar crenellations and mock machicolations, surmounted by a tall flagpole; narrow Gothic arched openings to each face of the turret. At the left-hand extremity of the south front is a diagonally placed square bastion, with its three faces rising above terrace level to projecting battlements on mock machicolations; the front face contains a semi-circular arched opening at terrace level, containing a cannon, with a small rectangular opening at ground level in the battered base, and a narrow rectangular slit opening at higher level in the left-hand wall of the base. Each of the shorter sides of the battery and terrace, facing approximately east and west, contains one segmental arched opening high up in the base, temporarily closed with loose iron bars, near the south end; and a triangular bastion at the north end. The triangular end bastions both rise above terrace level to projecting crenellations on mock machicolations; the one terminating the west wall contains a semi-circular arched opening in the parapet facing inland, and a narrow rectangular opening at ground level in the base facing toward the water; the corresponding bastion to the east wall has blank faces. On the terrace the inner faces of parapets are of similar walling to exterior; square and angled bastions are open, of similar walling to exterior except crenellations flush with no machicolations. Twin semi-circular arched openings to the circular tower, with alternating red brick and sandstone block reveals to openings; basalt rubble inner walls to tower, with stone spiral steps descending to the sally-port, and modern open tread timber stairs spiralling up around the central turret to a wooden boarded floor to provide a viewing platform at parapet level on the tower. The terrace is surfaced with coarse gravel of crushed stones to the main south front area, with the rear return areas at each end grassed, bordered by gravel along the perimeter parapet. Around the entire perimeter at each embrasure is an 18th century iron 12-pounder naval cannon supported by an upright leg formed by what appears to be a hollow stoneware coping tile on end. The terrace is supported entirely on an extensive system of brick arched vaults, mainly of segmental form but with some of semi-circular form, arranged as follows. Under the main terrace along the south front is a double row of 26 barrel vaults separated by a long groin-vaulted corridor extending from the western to the eastern side of the battery where there are segmental arched openings in the end or side walls, while under the northern portion of each of the side returns of the main south terrace are batteries of tunnel vaults running in an east to west direction, three at the west end and four at the east end, with arched openings facing into open courtyards. Courtyard elevations are as follows: in the east courtyard, basalt rubble walling facing west containing four segmental arched open doorways with sandstone ashlar voussoirs and sandstone block dressings to jambs, with a short return facing north containing one similar doorway; in the west courtyard, similar walling facing east containing three such doorways, the walling rising above basement storey height to boundary walling which abuts the Camellia House (HB20/04/042). Almost the entire area of basement vaulting supporting the terrace is in darkness except in the immediate vicinity of the arched openings from the courtyards, and also at the two openings at each end of the long corridor and the low opening in the diagonal bastion, which, however are deep within the structure and thus difficult of access. The double row of vaults under the main south-front area of terrace, is reached by four routes as follows: open doorways in each of the two end courts on the north side; the circular vaulted basement lobby at the south end of the old castle; and a passage off the transverse corridor to the south of the tall pillared and vaulted kitchen which forms part of the rear return of the early 19th century castle-style additions (HB20/04/041) to Shane's Castle. SETTING: The building stands in a very rural area, within the demesne of Shane's Castle, close to the shore of Lough Neagh which formerly came up to and around the base of the building, but with later lowering of the lough level the water has now receded leaving a flat area of grass in front of the terrace. To the rear of the terrace stands the ruins of the old Shane's Castle (HB20/04/051), while on part of the terrace itself stands the unfinished remains of later additions to the castle (HB20/04/041), including the conservatory, known as the Camellia House (HB20/04/042) which is the only completed portion.


Nash, John

Historical Information

Built for Lord O'Neill c 1812-16, apparently to the designs of the architect John Nash of London. Designed as part of a scheme of additions to Shane's Castle which comprised also a conservatory on the terrace, which was completed, and a suite of rooms, intended to provide a southern aspect to the old castle, which remains in an unfinished state after work was abandoned in 1816 following a fire which destroyed the old castle. Originally the water came up to the base of the terrace on three sides as it projected into the lough, but successive lowering of the water level since the mid-19th century have left the structure now standing back from the shoreline with a grassed area between it and the water. John Nash is recorded as having been consulted by Lord O'Neill early in the 1800s, c 1802-3, at the time Nash was working on Killymoon Castle in Co Tyrone. There are early undated and unsigned perspective drawings, attributed to the Nash office, for a larger scheme of additions to Shane's Castle than was adopted, which show an extensive embattled terrace of similar but not identical design to what was finally built. The extensive vaults beneath the terrace have always been unoccupied and appear to have been built merely for the purpose of supporting the terrace, while the entrances in each short side wall of the terrace were apparently intended for taking in coals or other loading delivered by boat at the time the terrace stood in the lough. The cannons have stood on the terrace since at least the 1830s and may have been there from the start of the building as their number coincides with the number of embrasures; the earlier proposal for the terrace shows a longer front with more embrasures than eventual cannons. They came from a British man-of-war which sank in Lough Foyle. Earl O'Neill had obtained permission to move them to Shane's Castle provided he did so at his own expense. In 1848, the Government required more cannons at the time of Smith O'Brien's rebellion and asked for the loan of them which Lord O'Neill agreed to on condition that they moved them. The government declined to go to that expense and so the cannons were spiked and have remained in that condition ever since. The building stands within the area of an ancient monument, no.ANT49:29. References – Primary Sources 1. OS Map 1829 & 32, Co Antrim 49. 2. Ordnance Survey Memoirs of Ireland, Vol 19: Parishes of County Antrim VI, 1830, 1833, 1835-8 (Belfast, 1993), pp 36, 48, 81. 3. The Dublin Penny Journal, Vol II (Dublin, 1833) – includes an engraved view, by A. Nicholl, c 1833. Secondary Sources 1. Parliamentary Gazetteer of Ireland 1844-45, Vol III (Dublin, 1846), p 214. 2. J.A. Pilson, History of the rise and progress of Belfast, and Annals of the County Antrim (Belfast, 1846), p 156. 3. R.M. Young, Belfast and the Province of Ulster in the 20th Century (Brighton, 1909), p 219. 4. Country Life, 18 August 1955, p 344. 5. UAHS, West Antrim (Belfast, 1970), pp 19 and 21. 6. D. Barzilay, Shane's Castle Railway and Nature Reserve: Official Guide (Antrim, 1975), pp 17-23. 7. E. Malins and The Knight of Glin, Lost Demesnes: Irish Landscape Gardening 1660-1845 (London, 1976), pp 82-3. 8. M. Bence-Jones, Burke's Guide to Country Houses, Vol 1: Ireland (London, 1978), pp 257-8. 9. R. Pierce and A. Coey, Taken for Granted (NIHBC, 1984), p 175. 10. Northern Ireland Heritage Gardens Committee, Heritage Gardens Inventory (Belfast, 1992), AN/064.

Criteria for Listing

Architectural Interest

A. Style B. Proportion C. Ornamentation D. Plan Form E. Spatial Organisation F. Structural System J. Setting K. Group value

Historic Interest

V. Authorship W. Northern Ireland/International Interest


This is an impressive structure of early 19th century date designed in a 'castle style' by the prominent English architect John Nash as part of a group of additions to Shane's Castle. It stands as the most spectacular feature of the group with its great castellated terrace and battery of cannons on top, while the basement interior consists of a complex layout of brick vaulted compartments. It enjoys an unspoiled setting within a well wooded demesne overlooking Lough Neagh, and together with its associated structures forms part of a group of considerable architectural and historic interest.

General Comments

This record was originally numbered as HB20/04/043.

Date of Survey

04 November 2000