‘Urban’ tower houses
in The Irish tower house
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Until now, the function of tower houses within a predominantly rural society has been discussed. This chapter illustrates how they were equally urban phenomena, present in pre-modern towns and cities. Their functions in these urban landscapes were different to their roles in the rural environment. In towns they operated as merchant residences, business venues and extensions of commerce. New evidence is provided for a public role for urban tower houses, reminding us that we cannot simply view fortifications as a communal–private dichotomy.

The Irish tower house

Society, economy and environment, c. 1300–1650


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