Rocks which crashed to earth when a section of 400-year-old battlements at Antrim Castle collapsed could have potentially crushed dozens of people to death, a local councillor has said.
An investigation is under way into the cause of the collapse of a large section of the town’s historic castle.
Part of the 400-year-old structure was suddenly reduced to a pile of rubble on Saturday evening.
A 40ft section of the gate at the former estate crumbled and covered the local square and war memorial in debris.
The area hosts the town's Halloween bash and Christmas lights switch-on ceremony each year.
Deputy mayor of Antrim, Adrian Watson, said the collapse could have had horrendous repercussions had it occurred when there were a large number of people in the vicinity.
Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph last night, the UUP man said: “If it had happened today, on a nice afternoon, there could have been kids playing in the area.
“I just thank God it didn't happen when there were a lot of people close by.
“At Christmas there are about 1,000 people down there so had it come down then dozens of people could have been killed.
“It was fortunate it happened on a wet, cold Saturday night when there were very few people around."
According to Mr Watson, there were no indications the wall was about to give way.
“We did some work on it five or six years ago though that was more on the gateway itself.
“We didn't expect anything like this.
“There were no large visible cracks or anything like that.”
Nobody was injured as a result of the incident.
A taxi driver described how some of the dislodged rocks narrowly missed her car.
Margaret Hegarty was taking a break in her vehicle when the wall came down at about 7pm.
She said: “I heard this big bang and all this rubble came over the car.”
The area was cordoned off yesterday and tests are due to be carried out today on a remaining section of the wall to determine whether it is at risk of collapse.