Skip to content

Historic Building Details

HB Ref No:

Extent of Listing:

Date of Construction:
1800 - 1819

Address :
Martello Tower Point Road Magilligan Limavady Co Londonderry

Doaghs Lower

Survey 2:

Date of Listing:
28/03/1975 00:00:00

Date of De-listing:

Current Use:

Former Use

Conservation Area:

Industrial Archaeology:





OS Map No:

IG Ref:
C6608 3887

Owner Category

Central Govt

Exterior Description And Setting

A large circular fort built of coursed sandstone with a warm pink glow and a subtle change of colour in the stonework above the bold corbels supporting the machiolations. The structure has a pronounced batter with a narrow entrance door some 3.00 metres above ground level and centrally under the projecting shallow gallery which provides the only marked punctuation on the external surface of the truncated cone. There are several small windows and ventilators piercing the immense thick walls, all carefully aligned with the coursing. The battered walls rise from a low plinth of rough stones and access to the doorway is by means of a two flight metal stairway. Originally there must have been some form of raised ramp or drawbridge arrangement as there is at the bottom corners of the doorway evidence of small wheels to engage a rope or chain. The projecting gallery forming the machiolations over the entrance door is supported on five robust stepped and rounded corbels and the walls of the gallery punctuated with gun slits, some angled to give a wider arc of firing cover. Two rainwater pipes with trunkheads placed diametrically opposite each other drain the surface of the gun emplacement. The fort sits among the dunes at the entrance end of Magilligan Point guarding the narrow entrance opposite Greencastle to Lough Foyle and having command of the North Atlantic approach. On the Inishowen side is a complimentary tower and battery and the remains of the 14th century De Burgh castle. The Greencastle tower is a little different from the Magilligan fort in that it is elliptical.


Fisher, Benjamin, Lt. Col.

Historical Information

Martello towers were erected around the coast of Ireland in anticipation of a Napoleonic invasion. Erected shortly after 1800 the first began around Dublin in 1804. They varied in design, some circular, some elliptical, some without batter. Those in Ireland preceded the English series and were finished externally in stone while those of the larger island are entirely of brick plastered. The round form meant that the fort would not collapse if undermined. The Magilligan tower commenced in 1812 and completed in 1817. The name derives from Cap Mortella in Corsica in 1793-4 which, Maurice Craig states “undoubtedly, much impressed the British military authorities”. There the resemblance ends. Such towers have been erected in other parts. A Lt. Col. Benjamin Fisher has been credited with the design of the Irish towers. Messrs Henry and Mullins built the Magilligan tower, the same firm later erected the Walker Testimonial Column in Derry. The sandstone was obtained from a quarry at Ballyharrigan in Bovevagh and the lime from Downhill. The Ordnance Survey Memoirs state there was “an excellent spring within the tower, 16 feet from the surface and level with the tide”. References: The Architecture of Ireland by M Craig Ordnance Survey Memoirs Vol. 11 Articles in An Cosantoir The Irish Defence Journal by P Kerrigan Martello Towers by S Sutcliffe The Martello Towers of Ireland by V Enoch Historic Monuments Reference: SM7/LDY 1:1

Criteria for Listing

Architectural Interest

A. Style B. Proportion D. Plan Form E. Spatial Organisation F. Structural System G. Innovatory Qualities J. Setting

Historic Interest

V. Authorship W. Northern Ireland/International Interest X. Local Interest Z. Rarity


A well preserved and outstanding example of a Martello tower and the only one extant in Northern Ireland. The workmanship is superb with superlative examples of stone details. ( Note. As well as being listed this structure is also a scheduled monument in state care. )

General Comments

Date of Survey

19 September 1997