Ferns Castle Highlights (5)
Climb to the top of the only intact tower of Ferns Castle, an impressive military stronghold built by William, Earl Marshall, who was known as the greatest knight that ever lived.
Those intrepid enough to make it onto the roof, accompanied by our guides, will be rewarded by spectacular views of historic Ferns and the surrounding countryside. From this standpoint you can easily see how the castle dominated the surrounding area. Also found on the roof is an original garderobe or medieval toilet, classed as a ‘long drop’.
Ferns Castle was a hardy fortress in its time, and many of its defensive features survive today. Take a look at the stone-cut fosse and drawbridge, for example, or the many arrow-loop and cross-loop windows. And watch your step inside the surviving tower! The treacherous spiral staircase was designed to trip attackers and hinder their advance to the upper floors.
The circular chapel on the second floor of the south-east tower is not to be missed. It has a spectacular moulded rib-vaulted ceiling surrounded by decorative finishes. The six carved heads and two small aumbries for storing sacred vessels are sculpted out of beautiful Dundry stone from Bristol.
Feast your eyes on the Ferns Tapestry, on display in the visitor centre, which comprises 25 colourful panels of crewel embroidery. The panels depict the history of the town from the arrival of St Aidan in 598 to the coming of the Normans in 1169. This unique achievement was a local community initiative and took over five years to complete.
You don’t have to venture far from Ferns Castle to discover other fascinating historic monuments. Just a short stroll away is St Mary’s, a twelfth-century Augustinian priory. The remains of a thirteenth-century cathedral are also situated here, as is St Peter’s, a small nave-and-chancel church. In the cathedral grounds, you can even find some high crosses and fragments of crosses.