The Plantation period was one of considerable building activity. Under the terms of the Orders and Conditions of the Plantation scheme the undertakers in the escheated counties were bound to specific building obligations. The scale and type of fortification required depended on the size of the individual proportion. On a proportion of 2,000 acres there was to be a stone house or castle surrounded by a bawn. There was a similar requirement for a proportion of 1,500 acres except that the house could be of brick or stone. On a 1,000 acre proportion it was only necessary to build a bawn. The word bawn derives from the Irish for ‘cow fort’ and was used to describe a walled courtyard that was usually square or rectangular in plan.

The best written sources for Plantation buildings are the four surveys carried out between 1611 and 1622. What emerges from these surveys is the sheer variety of different building types constructed in this period. Pynnar summed up his report by stating that there were ‘107 Castles with Bawnes, 19 Castles without Bawnes, 42 Bawnes without Castles or Houses, and 1,897 Dwelling Houses of Stone and Timber, after the English manner in Townreeds, besides very many such Houses in several parts which I saw not’.