This week I am presenting a paper on the conservation of fortifications at the International Conference on Fortified Heritage: Management and Sustainable Development from 15-17 October 2014 in Pamplona. The conference acts as a forum for debate and information exchange on the preservation of fortifications and the opportunities defensive structures offer to transform spaces and drive both economic and recreational activity.
The presentation and discussion of case studies from Europe, Latin America, Asia and North America allows attendees to consider different approaches to both conservation and development and the commonalities faced with the conservation of military heritage (buildings, landscapes, urban fabric etc) in the different regions and countries. Defensive structures are much more than simply a memorial or cultural reference point in our everyday experience, and much of the conference was devoted to sharing international experiences in transforming and adapting defensive structures and complexes to new sustainable and innovative uses.
Ireland retains a wide range of defensive structures from the well-known defensive castles of the medieval period including the great Anglo-Norman fortresses, the smaller hall houses and later tower houses, walled towns, fortified houses and fortified churches to the often technologically complex military structures developed in response to the increasing use of artillery and the evolution of military strategy and the scale of conflicts in the post-medieval period. These later examples of defensive architecture include the introduction of polygonal bastioned fortifications to Ireland at the end of the sixteenth century through to the well-known Napoleonic War period Martello towers and signal towers, and Ireland’s unique collection of quadrangular forts.