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The Precinct north and east of the church were separated by a recently excavated wall. This wall connected the northeast corner of the presbytery and the southwest corner of Watergate Tower (the low wall crossed by a stile between the north transept and the riverside wall may be relatively modern). It was the custom for part of this area to have been the priory graveyard and in Figure 4 it is shown north of the church. The medieval parish church yard may have been on the site of the present cemetery just west of the priory church (Figure 8).
The riverside curtain wall is pierced near the northwest corner by an arrow slit and by a low, narrow gateway onto the river. A single hanging eye and the draw-bar slots are preserved. An indent in the wall west of the arrow slit and a low foundation parallel to the river wall mark out the site of a low building, perhaps a grave-diggers house
(53) (not represented in Figure 4). Two further arrow slits pierce the river wall nearer Watergate Tower.
A small Northwest Gate
(54) permitted entry into the Precinct alongside Belfry Tower also. A round-headed outer archway opens into a segmentally arched gate passage containing the hanging eye for a single gate. The gate was secured by a draw-bar fitting into slots in the passage walls on either side. Foundations just inside suggest that the gate passage led into the Precinct via a small square gatehouse which opened into the Precinct through a south door (Figure 8).
The so-called Watergate Tower
(55) was identified through excavation in 1974. Relatively thin walls (about 0.8m thick) enclose a square ground level chamber 5m across. An external stairway against the east wall ascended to the second storey and the battlements above. With a river gate close by to the west, was this really anything more than just another tower?


Postern gate (56) and Postern Tower (57)

The east wall of the Precinct is interrupted by a small postern gate11 (a side or rear gate) (56). The gate passage has the usual segmentally arched vault but lacks the round-headed outer arch of the other priory gates. It passes through a stretch of wall over 1.5m thick. The wall is capped by a wall-walk with a low uncrenellated parapet, reached by eleven steps on the north side of the gate. The priory drain leaves the Precinct beneath the gate passage.
Postern Tower
(57) stands alongside and south of the postern gate. During the nineteenth century it was known as the 'post office' - presumably a corruption of its former name rather than representing a contemporary function since it is well removed from Kells village. Postern Tower projects almost entirely into the Precinct. It has only three storeys and contains no internal stairs between floors. The second storey was entered from the adjacent wall-walk and the upper storey and roof must have been reached by ladder.
Most windows in the second storey room have chamfered edges to their outer frames. These include a square-headed window in the south wall, a round-headed window and a step-headed window in the west wall and an ogee-headed window in the north wall. In contrast, the east wall has a square-headed window with no cut or chiselled stone frame. There is a fireplace in the south wall (with the chimney above omitted from
Figure 4).
The store-room below is entered through a doorway at the centre of the north wall. It is lit by single arrow slits in the east and west walls and a wall-cupboard is recessed into the east wall. The top room has two arrow slits in the south wall and one in the east wall, and single square-headed windows in each of the north and west walls. The tower battlements have been demolished and there is no garderobe in the tower.
There are many design differences between Postern Tower and the other towers. Postern Tower is thinner-walled and has fewer storeys. It has no internal stairs but uses an external staircase to the second level and then a ladder. The thin walls and external staircase are features also shared by Watergate Tower. Some windows in Postern Tower are unframed and there is no garderobe. The windows which have chamfered edges, particularly the ogee-headed and step-headed examples are similar to those of the other towers, but since it was common for windows to be replaced in the later middle ages this may be misleading. Overall Postern Tower and Watergate Tower appear to belong to an earlier period of fortification, perhaps even to the fourteenth century.

(c) Daniel Tietzsch-Tyler