ONE of County Antrim’s most historic sites is at the centre of plans by a council.
The Round Tower in Antrim town is now one of only two complete towers of its kind remaining in Northern Ireland.
A report prepared for Antrim & Newtownabbey Borough councillors said: ‘By way of background the ancient monastic history of the site dates back to the 10th Century.
‘The Tower is believed to have been one of the earliest round towers built in Ireland and served as a bell-tower and place of protection of refuge from raiders.
‘It is locally known as The Steeple, measures 28 metres tall and is now one of only two complete towers remaining in Northern Ireland and one of the finest left in Ireland.
‘It is now a scheduled monument which is in the care of the state and maintained by the Department for Communities Historic Environment Division.
‘The site as it currently stands is home to many tall trees which to a great extent hide the Tower itself. To this end it is not easily seen from the road nor accessed.’
The report said that as a phase one, councillors previously decided to invest the proceeds of the sale of the old cinema site at Fountain Hill in Antrim into the development of the Round Tower and surrounding park land and the sum available is £363,000.
The report said an initial phase of work was to include improved signage and interpretation at the site and the development of a path network to promote greater access to the site.
LIghting or other enhancements to the site acceptable to the Historic Enivironment Division were also being looked at.
The Council report, which is on the agenda for a meeting of the Council in Antrim Civic Centre on Monday October 28, is recommending that phase one be approved.
Councillors are also being asked to give consideration to a phase two of development including an archaeological dig on part of the site.
Another aspect under consideration is the potential provision of facilities for visitors ‘and the application of technology to tell the story of the Steeple site’.