Skip to main content

Full text of "The ancient forts of Ireland: being a contribution towards our knowledge of their types, affinities, and structural features"

See other formats




^ UAAJt- Av/ 1/W-T>IA U.V'^-XA-r 



/ y 

















Divisions. Pages. 

I. Introductory : Types and Plans — Number — Names, general and individual, . . 1 
II. Forts of the Irish Types in other Countries : Greece — Dalinatia — Bosnia-Herzegovina 
— Roumania — Italy — Austria-Hungary — Bohemia — Esthoiiia — Prussia — 
— Kugen — Baden — Alsace-LoiTaine — Denmark — Holland and Belgium — 
Switzerland — France — Brittany — Scotland — England — Wales, . . .15 
III. Age of the Forts : Doubtful Criteria — The older Legends — The Historic Period — 
The Forts familiar to early Literary Men — Gradual Desertion — The Age of 
the Forts fi'om other Sources — " Finds" — Theories regarding the Fort-builders 
— The Sons of Huamore — Sea-rovers — Danes — Other Views, . . .46 

IV. Use of the Forts : Fortresses and Residences, secular and ecclesiastical — Cattle- 
pens — Sepulchi-al — For "Worship and Ceremonial, . . . . .59 
V. Structural Features in the Forts : Ramparts, Masonry, Terraces, and Steps — 
Gateways — Abattis — Greens and Streets — Outworks and Sunken Ways — 
Souterrains and Cells — Warden's Huts — Holed Stones — Ballauns — Oghams — 
Carvings — Excluded Water Supply — Remains of Dwellings — Other Featiu-es, 68 
VI. Distribution of Types: Groups — Ring Forts, Royal Residences, largest Ring Forts, 
lesser Ring Forts, Walled Islands, Straight-sided Forts — Promontory Forts 
— Simple Motes — Complex Motes-^Long Entrenchments, . . .102 
VII. Bibliography of some of the fuller descriptions of Iiish Forts,. . . . .140 

VIII. Conclusion, 147 

Index. (The references being to sections), . . . . . . . .149 

Plates I. to IX. 

I. — Intkoductory . 

It was with the greatest diffidence that I ventured to lay before the 
Royal Irish Academy an attempt to deal with so large and complex a 
subject as is offered to antiquaries by the ancient forts of Ireland. To 
deal with it minutely could only be possible after many careful workers 
had described the chief forts of their respective districts ; to deal with it 



2 Westropp — The Ancient Forts of Ireland. 

exhaustively would imply an amount of systematic exploration and exca- 
vation all over Ireland which has only been attempted imperfectly, and, as 
a rule, unscientifically, in a few districts. It was therefore in no spirit of 
confidence that I approached this task. 

A study of many forts of our principal types in various parts of Ireland 
for over twenty years, and a careful examination of rich districts along the 
Atlantic seaboard (while showing lu)w vast is the subject, and how little 
qualified I am to deal with it in its broadest aspects), shows how necessary 
it is that a definite beginning and some generalisation should be attempted 
in the hope that a new century may raise a school of students willing to 
devote themselves to a heavy but important task — a task not yielding 
popular applause, but invaluable for the right understanding of our records. 
Readers will, I hope, forgive the so far personal nature of this preface. 

We will endeavour to set out the results accumulated, hoping that 
others may start from our goal with wider experience, and, above all, 
wider knowledge of the remains of "Celtic" forts on the continent of 
Europe, which form the preface to the story of the Irish forts, which 
preface nearly all our antiquaries have left unread. Meanwhile we may 
hope that the little band of workers in this harvest may be encouraged to 
continue (with additional volunteers) the unthanked labour of publishing 
detailed descriptions with plans and illustrations, and still more the 
systematic excavation and exploration of the forts, the only sound bases 
for fuller treatment of the subject. Two more points we may note, first, 
that this Paper does not pretend to describe or to utilise all even of the 
more interesting forts in Ireland \ secondly, that it avoids ethnological 
speculation as much as possible, and uses the term ' Celtic ' as a mere 
symbol for the types prevailing in Ireland. Many forts of these types 
were most probably constructed by tribes to which even the loosest users 
of the term would never think of aj}plying the word ' Celtic' It is 
impossible to divest one's self or one's Paper of all theory, but this Paper 
is intended to collect results, and not to advocate any theory of our own.* 

* We also use the term 'fort' for a defensive (not necessarily a military) enclosm-e, and 
' prehistoric' simply for an unrecorded eai-ly time, even if technically within the historic period 
of Ireland. For the convenience of brief citation, we may note here that E.I. A. refers to the Eoyal 
Irish Academy ; R. S.A.I, to the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland, under its various names, 

Westropp — The Ancient Forts of Ireland. 3 

The forts of earth cannot be separated in this inquiry from those of 
stone; their plans are identical, and their periods are usually contempora- 
neous; the favourite view that the earthen forts are the earliest is contra- 
dicted by our records which mention, for example, the making of an ordinary 
rath in the reign of Donough Cairbreach O'Brien who died in a.d. 1242. 
We cannot dare to fix, even provisionally, periods for the various styles 
of masonry. We have heard it alleged that the rude stonework preceded 
the "Cyclopean," but have seen it resting on top of the latter at more 
than one fort; finer "Cyclopean" work than any in our forts occurs in 
our early churches. Haramer-work occurs on dolmens as well as on forts, 
and "finds" are most equivocal; therefore we cannot but feel that the 
time has not even dawned for advancing our " certainty" to this degree. 

The stonework depends altogether on the nature of the rock in the 
district and the facilities for removing the same ; similarly the occurrence 
of earth and stone forts depends largely on the nature of the country. 
Where stone and earth are abundant, we find forts of both materials ; 
occasionally a rampai't of stone had been built upon or among earthworks, 
or a stone revetment built to form a face to the earthen mound, or a fosse 
and earthwork made outside the actual defence of a wall. In shale 
districts, stone forts are rare, but rock-cut fosses and stone-faced ramparts 
are not uncommon. In rocky districts, even where earth abounds, the 
earth-fort is exceptional ; and who would have used anything but stone at 
any period in the uplands of Burren or the Isles of Aran ? Everywhere 
we see the mark of the geological division, and nowhere the mark of the 
tribal or racial district in the treatment of material. The motes of Louth 
and Hungary, or the cahers of Burren and Bosnia, are closer akin than 
are the stone fort of Cahercalla and the mote of Magh Adhair lying close 
to and in sight of each other. 

1. Types and Plans. — The types of the forts are best based on the 
plans, for (as we have pointed out) the construction depended on jDhysical 

"The Kilkenny Society," "The Iloyal Hietorieal and ArchaBological Association of Ireland," &c. ; 
Dimraven, "Notes on Irish Architectm'e," by Lord Dimraven. The absence of consecutive 
numbers in the earlier volumes of the above Societies leads us to give the year in brackets. 
0. S. is the Ordnance Survey. 


4 ■ Westkopp — ?'//<; Ancient Forts of Ireland. 

considerations, while the plans of forts, whether of earth or stone, whether 
with or without timber, are strikingly similar in most parts of central Eui'ope 
and our Islands. 

(«} The simplest type is the enclosure, circular or oval, of the ring- 
mound or ring-wall ; variants of this type have two or more walls, or 
earthworks and fosses, up to five, and possibly uj) to seven rings.* The 
triple enclosure has been alleged in Ireland to be the mark of a royal fort, 
but, if so, why have tlie undoubtedly "roj'al" forts of Caher Crofinn, 
and Rath Laoghaire at Tara, Emania, Rathcroghan, and Bealboruma 
not got this distinctive mark ? In a few cases the fort is protected by an 
abattis or chevaux-de-frise of standing stones, a ring of large blocks, or an 
obstacle of loose stones. The first-named ver}^ interesting feature is rare ; 
it occurs at Dun Aenghus, Dubh Cathair, and Ballykinvarga in Aran and 
Clare, Dunnanioe in Mayo, Pen Caer Helen in Wales, Cademuir and Dreva 
in Scotland ; it is found as lines of pillars at Castel Coz in Brittany, at 
Laufen in Switzerland, and at tlie Bauerberge on Mohne in the Baltic. 
Apart from these jjeculiarities, the tj'pe of fort is very widespread, 
occurring in Thessaly, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Austria, Germany, Holland, 
and Belgium, Sweden, the Islands of the Baltic, Switzerland, France, and 
the British Isles. Two forts are frequently conjoined ; a good example 
occurs at Tara in the Forradh and Teach Cormaic. Others occur in at 
least fourteen counties. In Carlow, Longfield, Tipperary, and MuUa- 
creevagli, Westmeath, we find examples of three conjoined raths. 

* "Demon chai-iot of Cuchullin" (Joium. E.S.A.I., ser. iv., vol. i., p. 385 ?) : — "Dun .Sciath 
. . . seven walls about that Cathair, hateful was the fort." Dindsenchas of Grrianan Aileach, 
" Dun to which led horse-roads through five ramparts," Book of Lecan, p. 255. The principal 
triple-walled forts ai-e Dun Aenghus, Cahercommaun, Cahercalla (Quin), and Moghane ; The 
Treduma Nasi of Tara has vanished. Grianan Aileach and Dunbeg have a wall and four (? five) 
earthworks. Cahercrofinn (Tara), Emania ; Baltinglass, Eathgal, and Eathangan ( Wicklow) ; 
a rath near Pucks Castle (Dublin), Cashel (Cork); Dun Oghil (Aran), and a caher near Tuam 
(Galway) ; Glenquin, Cahergurraun, Caheragaleagh, and Cahershaughnessy, in Clare, have two 
distinct ring enclosures. Dun Conor and Langough have only side annexes. " Cormac's Glossaiy " 
mentions the triple fort of Crimthan more mac Fidach (Dun Treduc), near "Glastonbury of 
the Irish," and other three ringed forts are named in the " Book of Rights," and poems 
of Scanchan. 

Wkstropp — The Ancient Forts of Ireland. 5 

{h) The walled island or stone crannoge is rare but widespread ; it in 
no way difFers from the ordinary stone forts, except in being as a rule less 
massive. It is found in the lakes of Skannive and Bola, near Carna 
in Connemara ; in the turlough or temporary lake of Castletown, Clare 
(Cahersavane) ; in Lough Corrib, at Illauncarbery, Galway; in Lough 
na Crannagh, on Fair Head, Antrim ; in Kerry, and elsewhere. The 
earthen fort on piling is well represented by Dungorkin in Londonderry. 
The subject of wooden crannoges lies outside the scope of this paper. 

(c) The rock-fort is also closely akin to the ring-forts. Fine 
examples are found at the Giant's Sconce, in Londonderry, Dunbought 
in Antrim, and Cahercashlaun and Cashlauu Gar in Clare : the latter 
must have been reached by a ladder. 

(d) The rectangular or straight-walled type is, save in plan, identical 
with the ring-fort in every respect. There is not even the certainty 
(though there is probability) that it is later, for Bronze-Age antiquities 
have been found in Continental examples. These forts occur in nearly 
every county of Ireland, but are by far the most abundant in the 
southern counties of Leinster, Kilkenny having at least twenty-eight such 
forts, and Wexford fifty-five, while we seldom find more than six or eight 
in other counties. Some have double fosses and earthworks. One of the 
finest examples of a dry-stone straight-walled fort, is Caherwalsh, near 
Noughaval in Clare, where three similar enclosures also remain. Lai'ge 
ones remain at Ballybritt in King's County, and also in Cork, Galway, 
Louth, Roscommon, and Kildare. They occur along with dolmens and 
pillar-stones in Cork and Clare, and enclose early slab-enclosures for houses 
in the latter county. 

(e) A second type, for want of a better name, we may call a pro- 
montory fort,* using this term, not only for sea-surrounded headlands, but 
for spurs on hillsides. This fortification may consist of a wall, with or 

* "We omit the " Mediterranean" examples, as the general force of evidence seems to point 
rather to northern Em-ope as the main route by which fort-plans and ornament reached Ireland. 
The formation of a promontory fort is too obvious to require any tradition or knowledge of older 
buildings in its makers. To call our Irish promontory forts "Mediterranean" would bo perhaps 
a snggestio fahi like the popular term "Danish forts" in Ireland, or "Huns forts" in central 

6 Westropp — The Ancient Forts of Ireland. 

without a fosse or fosses, or simply of one or more earthworks and fosses. 
The defence usually presents a convex curve to the land side ; it is some- 
times straight, but probabl3Miever externally concave. This type occurs in 
Greece and elsewhere round the Mediterranean ; and is found in Dalmatia, at 
Rugen in the Baltic, in Switzerland, France, and the British Isles. Among 
the finest examples, we may note Castel Coz(wall, earthworks, and abattis) 
in Finisterre ; Rathbury Castle (three fosses and a rampart), Scotland; 
St. David's Head (three walls), Wales ; St. Mary (stone walls and two mounds 
and fosses), Scilly Isles ; and the Worle Hill (seven fosses and a protection 
of loose stones) near Weston-super-mare. In Ireland, perhaps the most 
interesting groups are those of some seven forts along the more eastern 
coast of Waterford ; the great forts of Dunmore and Dunbeg, besides 
three others at the south-western angle of Corcaguiny in Kerry ; the group 
of forts from Dun Fiachra to Dunnamoe, at the N.W. angle of Mayo ; the 
Black Fort on Aran, and Dundoillroe in Clare, are also worthy of men- 
tion, but the former has been extensively rebuilt. These sites have 
frequently been refortified in late mediaeval times ; it must suffice to 
mention the Old Head of Kinsale, Ferriter's Castle in Kerry, and Dun- 
lecky Castle in Clare. The most interesting example of a fort on an 
inland spur is Caherconree (wall and slight earthwork) in Kerry. A very 
accessible though defaced example of a headland fort remains in the so- 
called Dun Criff an at Howth. Nennius mentions " promontoria " among 
the forts of Britain ; and the Irish version* translates the word ' cathair ' ; 
they were possibly forts of the Dunbeg type, but the term may, perhaps, 
include ringed hill-forts as well. 

(/) Another most widespread tyj^e is the mote, a simple flat-topped 
mound, sometimes with a fosse and earth-ring round the base. Very 
few examples occur to the west of the Shannon and Lough Neagh, while 
they are especially plentiful in the centre and north of Leinster. They are 
occasionally sepulchral, and in some cases have been used both for defence 
and burial. They occur (leaving out sepulchral tumuli) in France, Den- 
mark, Germany, and Austria, and are extremely common in England. f 

* " The Irisli Nennius," p. 29. 

f Many English motes are undoubtedly of Saxon and some oven of Norman times. Perhaps 

Westropp — The Ancient Forts of Ireland. 7 

Some out of the many fine Irish examples may be named, as Clane in Kil- 
dare, Slane in Meath, and Rahue in King's County. The mound of Magh 
Adhair in Clare is more notable for its use and history, and its exceptional 
position in a moteless district, than for its size. It and several motes in 
Meath have the fosse, earthwork, and sloping " gangway," which, as Dr. 
Christison points out, are vividly depicted in the representation of an attack 
on the palisaded "Dun" of Dinan shown in the Bayeux tapestry. Some 
of the larger motes have platforms and even slight terraces, such as those 
of Granard in Longford, and Clones in Monaghan. A fine example (per- 
haps of Scandinavian origin) stood close to Trinity College, in Dublin, and 
was long known as tlie Thing Mote. 

Fio. 1. — Forts (Motes) shown in Bayeux Tapestry, Eennes; Dol : and the attack on Dinan. 

((/) A very interesting variant of the last type is the mote with an 
annexe or platform separated from, and lower than, the mound; this may 
be irregularly square, fan-shaped, round, or crescent-shaped ; such occur 

some Irish motes may be as late, but apart from other questions the mention in our Annals of 
Downpatrick, a.d. 495, Donaghpatrick, a.d. 745, and of Knockgraifan, and probably Kilfinnane, 
as residences of the King of Cashel, by the Book of Eights (at latest ninth century, possibly 
fifth) shows that some motes were of early and possibly prehistoric date. 

8 Westropp — The Ancient Forts of Ireland. 

outside our islands in Hungary and Prussia. Borlase suggests that thej^ 
are the structures alluded to by Tacitus as " castra ac spatia," wliile 
Virchow considers that they may have been temples. The more definite 
traditions in Ireland regard them as places of assembly, " parliament 
houses," and places for "duels or tournaments," but similar legends are 
attached to ring forts. The finest Irish examples of this type are the 
regal Rathceltchair at Downpatrick ; the great motes of Newry (Crown 
Mound) and Dromore in the same county ; Derver and Donaghpatrick 
in j\Ieath ; Greenmount in Louth ; Kilfeakle, Dunohill, Knockgraffan, 
and Tipperary in Tipperary ; Kilfinnane in Limerick, and Lismore in 
Waterford. They lie mainly in two groups, but scattered examples are 
found in Londonderry, Antrim, Westmeath, Kildare, and the eastern 
seaboard of Leinster. 

{h) The long fosses and earthworks which occur in Down, Armagh, 
Longford, and Cavan, and also in Kerry, Limerick, and Waterford, 
such as the Danes' Cast and Duncladh ; they resemble works of Roman 
and other origin, in Great Britain and the Continent. 

(^■) The terraced hill, which occurs at Doou in Cork, and perhaps at 
Kilbradran in Limerick* and Tullaghog in Tyrone. This type is also 
found in Etruria and Great Britain. 

{k) Some exceptional types occur on the Ordnance Survey Maps. Such 
as the somewhat spiral fort at Ashpark, Tipperary, f which has congeners 
at Bryn Derwer in Montgomeryshire, and the Dun of Loch Feochan in 
Scotland. An X-shaped fort is marked at Mullymeskar in Fermanagh, and 
if the plan is correctly given is (so far as we know) unique. 

2. Number of Forts. — It is hard, if not impossible, to state (even in 
the merest approximation) the number of forts in Ireland. Even the forts 
which are marked on the maps are so numerous that only by a long though 
intermittent toil, spread over many years, can we offer a number which 
claims to be even approximately correct. Meanwhile it is certain that in 
some counties, knowledge of field antiquities might add several hundred 
sites to those marked, even on the maps of the great Ordnance Survey of 

Fig. No. 23. f Fig. No. 19. 

Westkopp — The Ancient Forts of Ireland. 9 

6 inches to the mile. Over and above this field list are numerous town- 
lands and other places, with names implying the former existence of forts 
not now mai'ked on the maps. Then we find in our older records, many 
forts named at places now without any trace of fort name or remains. 
Taking into account all these omissions, we may, with little fear of ex- 
aggeration, place the number of forts in Ireland at about thirty thousand, 
for the maps mark some 28,800 in all Ireland, 4283 being in Ulster; 4651 
in Leinster, 7593 in Connaught, and 12,232 in Munster. So impei'fect, 
variant, and conventional are the methods adopted for marking these forts 
on the older survey, and so lost are the forts in many cases among the 
modern enclosures on the maj)s of the more accurately detailed survey 
now in progress, that without actually visiting every site, it is impossible 
to compile from the maps any detailed census, showing the number of 
ring-walls, ringed earthworks, square forts, simple motes, or even in many 
cases, complex motes, while the slightly marked ti'aces of fosses on head- 
lands, whose very names suggest the existence of promontory forts, are 
too often ignored by the practical surveyor. 

In this most important object of detailed lists of the various types 
of forts, it is too evident that reliance can only be placed on antiquarian 
field-work ; and so, while we avoid statements as to the approximate 
number of the various classes of forts, we may state that we have been 
careful to verify our assertions as to the existence of certain types, but that 
their predominance in a district is only an assertion of our mere opinion. 
We have lists of over forty simple, and twenty complex motes, and of over 
sixty promontory forts. These probably fall short of the true numbers. 
Of the number of the other types, we dare offer no definite statements. 

The numbers of forts approximately is as follows : — The average number of acres to each fort, 
in various counties, is given in brackets to show the comparative number, the latter proportional 
statement must be taken with caution, as the forts lie much together on the more fertile ground, 
avoiding, save in Kerry and Clare, the vrilder mountain districts and boglands : — 

Ulster.— Antrim, 618 (1261 acres) ; Down, 664 (921 a.) ; Armagh, 190 (8726 a.); Mouaghan 
706 (452 a.); Cavan, 909 (525 a.); Fermanagh, 397 (1147a.); Tyrone, 393 (2051 a); London- 
derry, 189 (2728 a.); Donegal, 215 (5550 a.). 

Leinsteb.— Louth, 146 (1390 acres); Meath, 545 (1061a.); Westmeath, 1184 (383a.), 
Longford, 653 (412a.); King's County, 265 (1870a.); Queen's County, 261 (1690a.); Kildare 


10 Westkopp — The Ancient Forts of Ireland. 

185 (2310a.); Dublin, 58 (3905 a.) ; Wicklow, 225 (2223 a.) ; Carlow, 178(1243a.); Kilkenny, 
627 (813 a.); Wexford, 334 (1725 a.). 

CoNNAroHT. — Leitrim, 536 (732 acres) ; Sligo, 1472 (327 a.), Col. "Wood-Martin, however, 
gives 1800 Sligo forts; Mayo, 2147 (637a.); Roscommon, 1276 (471 a.); Galway, 2162 (775a.). 

MjTNSTEK.— Clare, 2419 (343 acres); KeiTy, 1988 (596 a.); Limerick, 2147 (317 a.); Tippe- 
rary, 2244 (427 a.); Waterford, 510 (923a.); Cork, 2930 (630 a.). 

Sligo and Limerick head the list, and the Munster and Conuaught counties have nowhere less 
than 1 fort to 1000 acres. Donegal is lowest, 1 fort to 5550 acres. Dublin, the next lowest in 
appearance, has evidently lost the greater number of its forts through cultivation and the spread 
of the subui'bs, whose very names, Rathmines, Rathgar, Rathfai'uham, Bagotrath, Raheny, &c.,. 
tell of the former demolition of raths. Col. Wood-Martin computes the number of Irish forts as 
40,000, i.e. as about 32 times the number in Sligo, but the number in each county is variant. 

The richest proportion to the poorest (Sligo to Donegal) is as 1 to 17. 
Most of these forts are from 100 to 130 feet in diameter; a considerable 
number are from 300 feet to 360 feet across ; but very few exceed 500 feet 
across. The largest earthen ring-forts are Dorsey, a mile long, and Dun 
Ailinn in Kildare, 1600 by 1350 feet. The largest stone forts are Moghane 
in Clare, 1500 by 1100 feet, and Dun Aenghus in Aran, 1000 by 650 feet. 

3. Fort Names (General). — It is of no little interest to note the 
names by which tliese structures are known from the far east of Europe 
to the Atlantic. Pre-eminent in extension and interest is the word 
' Dun,' probably meaning ' strong.'* It obtained the derivative meanings 
of 'stronghold' or 'hill-fort.' Its cognate 'ton' ('town') lies outside 
the scope of our subject. To save our readers a search in Ptolemy, 
Csesar, and other ancient authors, we may note that the place-names 
with this comjjound spread from Ireland to the mouth of the Danube. 
The " Celts" of those early ages round the opening of our era used it as 
a suffix (as they did Magus, Magh, and Nemetum, Nemed), instead of as a 
prefix as in Ireland. 

Among the names of the first century, b.c. and its two successors, we may note — in Ireland: 
Dounon. Britain: Axellodunum, Branadunum, Cambodunum, Camulodunum (Maldon?), Dunion, 
Londinium (London), Margidun, Maridunum (Caer-Marthen), Rigodunum, Segedunum, Serduno, 
Sorbiodunum (Sarum). Spain (only at north-west angle): Caladunum. France: such semi- 
Eoman names as Augustodun\im, Csesarodunum, and Celtic names as Laudunum, Lugdunum 

* Zcuss, p. 30 : see " Irish Names of Places," Dr. V. W. Joyce (1871 ed.), p. 267. 

Westropp — The Ancient Forts of Ireland. 11 

(Lyons), Segodunum, and TJxellodunum, among tte Aquitani : Lugdunnm, Melodunnm (Melim), 
No\dodnnum, and Virodiuium (Verdun), among the Belgi. Noviodunum among the C'elti ; and 
Eburodimiim in Provence. In Switzerland are found Eburodunum, Minnodunum, Noviodunum 
(Nyon), and Salodunum. In " Gfrmant/" : CaiTodunum, Ebm'odimum, Lugidunum (and the 
tribe of Lygoduni near Bresslau), Meliodunum, Segodunum, and Taurodunum. Cambodunum 
was in Hhoetia; Noviodunum (Isaktcha near the mouth of the Danube, and Singidunum (Belgrade) 
in Moesia, and Viodunum in the present Eoumania. It will be noted that these do not cover all 
the districts in which the " Celtic" forts occur, as the remains extend to Esthonia and Sweden, 
but this may arise from the natural ignorance of the more northern districts among the writers 
of the Empire. 

" Duna" is found in Hungaiy, but seems there to be a local form of 
the river name (Duna = Danube), though one name lies far from the great 
river, and another, Duna Foldvar, is actually combined with an accepted 
fort term. Similarly, "Duna" is found as a river and town name in 
Esthonia, where "Celtic" forts are also found. Its use in Ireland and 
Scotland is too common to call for note. And in France, it is probably 
present in Dinan (where a large mote existed at the time of Harold's ill- 
starred sojourn at the court of his future enemy, William of Normandy), 
and the names of some other towns, such as Dun le palleteau, Dun sur 
Mouse, Verdun, and Dun le roi. Lis, Les, and Leis, in the sense of 
"court," occur in place-names in Brittany. 

In Ireland, however, " Dun " is not of such frequent occurrence as Lis 
and Rath. It would be a vast and not very profitable task to extract all 
the fort-names on the O.S. maps ; but taking the townland names, we find 
that " Lis" leads by a vast majority as a prefix to 1400 names, " Rath " 
and "Dun" come next in order with 597 and 576, and " Caher" heads 
315 names. Tlie criterion is deceptive, for there are some 140 " Caher" 
names in Clare alone, though only 50 give names to the townlands, and 
over 50 lost " Caher" names are also recoverable from the records of that 
one county. Professor Sullivan states that, out of 244 Caher names in 
Ireland, Cork, Kerry, Limerick, Clare, and Galway liave 209 ; but this is 
manifestly unreliable. The name certainly is most abundant in Munster, 
Galway, and Southern Mayo ; and it is found in Queen's County 
(Cahernacappol's House, and Caher), Meath (Caher Crofinn), Longford 
(Caherdigue), and Antrim (Caher Righ). The word, probably in early 

C 2 

12 Wkstropp — The Ancient Forts of Ireland. 

Christian times, came into use, for "doons'" as well as for enclosed 
monasteries. The change has left its mark in the double names, Caer- 
marthen (Caher mari dun) and Caterthun (Cathair dun) in Great Britain, 
and the names " Caherdoon " in Ireland. The love for a double name 
has, since 1878, even begun to assert itself in Aran, where the Black 
Fort or Dubh Cathair is getting re-named, " Dun doo 'hair."* In our 
literature, tlie word is frequently equated with " city." 

North of Clew Bay, " caher" is replaced by "cashel." This word co- 
exists along with " caher" southward, even to Cork, and has acquired a 
subsidiaiy meaning of "wall of a monastery." " Cashlaun " is a rarer 
form. " Ooan," " Moher," and "Dangan" sometimes mean "caher," but 
local knowledge is required to distinguish these from natural caves or 
late enclosures or castles. The Dindsenchas uses both " cashlaun" and 
"Moher" for the Grianan of Aileach. " Boen " (or bawn) occm's in 
Keny, Cork, and (it is alleged) Clare ; but we believe in the last case it 
is a misread " Goan." " Mote," and " Longfort " are loan words. 
" Pallis " is a peculiar term given to over 40 townlands, but (so far 
as we can recall) onlj' given to two rectangular forts in Westmeath and 
Kerry. " Durlas" (or strong fort) occurs, notably at Thurles. Tonnach 
or Sonnach is also used for a ring-wall or enclosure. 

The curious reduplications like " caherdoon " are also found in combi- 
nations of other fort-words — Caherlis, Cahercashlaun, Lisdoon, Lisnaraha, 
Lisdangan, Rathdangan, Lissatunna, Lissamota, Dunalis, Dunluce (Dun 
Liss), and Lisnioher. Such names as Cahermore, Lismore, Cahereen, 
Lisheen, and Cahermoyle have almost ceased to be proper names. 

The terms used in other countries may be briefly enumerated. Only 
one commends itself for our use in this country, the admirable Germanic 
term " ring-wall." 

In Bosnia-Herzegovina these "Celtic" forts ai-e named " Hausberg," " Burgwiille," " Wall- 
burg," and "Eingwalle." In Bohemia: " Hraditsch " and " Arad " (equated with " rath " by 
W. Borlase) are found. In Hungary the forts are " Duna," " Hring," " Poganvyar" (heathens' 
■walls), "Foldvyar" (field or earthen- walls), and "Devils-ditch." In Esthonia : "Bauerberge" 

* Perhaps, however, this is the name rendered " Uoonaghard," as on 0. S. Maps. We give 
the phonetic form, as used in 1895. 

WESTROPP—T/ie Ancient Forts of Ireland. 13 

and the name "Daingen" occurs. In Germany: "RingwaU," "WaUburg," "Heidenschanze" 
(heathen fort), "Spiel Hugel" (place of games). In the Vosges : we find " Heidenmaucr" 
(heathen walls) and " Altschloss" (old fort). In Holland: "Hune schans" (Huns' fort) In 
Switzerland: "Ringberg"; and in France: such names as "Cesar's camp,' "Roman camp" 
''Castel," "Mm-," "Campof Attila." and "Pagan Castle," recalling the Irish term "Danish fort " 
In the Bntish Isles, we have "Dun," "Caer," "Rath" (Pembroke, Northumberland, and Scotland), 
Birren,' "Rmgknowe," and "Law." In Scotland: "Liss," "Beacon," "Ring" " DevilC 
hedge," "Mote," "Dyke," and many other terms. 

4. Fort Names (Individual). -If we seem to some to intrude on 
linguistic questions in this section, we must only crave the patience of 
such readers to bear with what we conceive as necessary (in the system 
adopted) to the fuller treatment of our forts, and as being an interesting 
brancli of the folk-lore concerning them. 

The ideas of size and colour (as might be expected; have supplied 
a long list of names to the forts. We find many times and in many 
counties such names as Cahermore, Caherbeg, Cahereen, and even (pro- 
bably)* Cahereenmore; Lismore, Lisbeg, Lisheen ; Rathmore, Rathbe- 
Raheen ; Doonmore, Doonbeg, Dooneen ; but such names are of little 
interest, and virtually non-descriptive. 

Lime was probably used as a pigment long before it was used for 
mortar; but, in some cases, the white colour attributed to the forts is 
rather due to the limestone blocks, bleached with the rain and storm of 
many Such names occur as Cahergel (borne by two important 
stone forts in Galway and Kerry), Calierbane, and Caherlea, Duno-al 
Lisbaun, Lisheenbane, Lisgal, Lislea, Rathbaun, and Rabane. "^ ' 

The dark stone or earth, or in some cases a shady hillside, originated 
such names as Caherduff, Lisdoo, Lisduff , and Raheenduff . Red or yellow 
earth (or the green-sward which forms so lovely a feature in many earti, 
orts) gave names like Lisderg, Lisroe, Lisbuy or Lisglass, Lisheenroe, 
Lisheenbuy Dunderg or Dunroe, Rathduff or Rathglass, or the fort was 
speckled with various colours, and called Caherbreac or Lisbrack 
For their position, or other peculiarities various forts were called 
Caherard, Rathard or Lissard, Dundrum or Rathdrum, Lisnaknock or 

* Transactions Royal Irish Academy, vol. .x.xxi., p. 301. 

,14 Westropp — The Ancient Forts of Ireland. 

Cahernageeha, Lisnageeha, and Ratlinageeha derived their names 
from their breezy station (like Ilinm of old), while Caherrush and Cahersaul 
suggest at once the lonely headlands on which they stood, beside the 
breakers of the Atlantic. Caherlough actually overlooks a reedy lake ; 
Caherass and Doonass overhung the rapids of the Maigue and Shannon. 
The fort was cut out of a gravel mound, and named Rathescar, or lay in 
marly bogland, or low ground, with water in its trenches, and became 
Caherloghan, Lisaniska, Raheenaniska or Rathdoorus. It was flat-topped, 
or much levelled, and people named it Cahermoyle, Lismoyle, or Rath- 
moyle. From its shape a fort was named Caherleane, Cahergar or 
Caherfadda, Lisgar or Lisleane, Rathgar or Rathfad. 

The fort finally got superseded by more convenient residences, and the 
inhabitants only kept their domestic animals in it ; naming it Lisnabo, 
Lisboduff, Lisbofinn, Liscappul, Cahernagree, Lisnagry, Doonagore, Rath- 
nagore, Caherminaun or Lisnaminaun, Lisnamolt, Lisnamuck or Caherna- 
muck. In other cases, as at the present day, its owners cultivated the 
garth, and it got named Rathnapish or Lissacurkia, " jam seges est ubi 
Troja fuit." It was sometimes deserted, and the gallows was set on its 
height, then it got the ill-omened name of Lisnacroghera ; or it was used 
for burial, and became Cahercaltragh or Lisnagorp. In some cases, in its 
utter loneliness, people fancied that it had become the haunt of evil spirits; 
the " corpse candle " was seen in its fosse, and it was named Lisnagunniel ; 
the ghost and phuca cried in its desolate houses, and the shuddering 
peasantry called it Lisananima, Lissaphuca, Caheraj^huca or Lisheenvickna- 
heeha, " the little fort of the son of the night."* 

More real were the " doleful creatures " — the wild cat, badger, and 
wolf — that haunted it, and it was called Cahernamactiere (now Caher- 
mackateer, in Clare), RathbrefFy, Lisnapeasty, Lisnabrock or Cahernagat, 
or it was overgrown, the oak, ash, or hollj^ springing from its ruins, the 
ivy cloaking its walls, while the doves cooed (as in the poem on O'Roigh's 
fort) above the lonely site, and then it got for its name Caheraderry, 
Cahercullenagh, Lisnahinshin, Duneena, Cahereinagh, or CahernagoUum. 

The personal names connected with the forts are much more difficult to 

* " Macnaliaidehe" occurs however as a personal name, e.g. Annals of Ulster, 1104-1 150 and 1281. 

Westhopp- The Ancient Forts of Ireland. 1 5 

deal witi, and it is impossible to know whether in any case they may 
^e o.d he name o the builder. In Doon Innees (the traditional nLe o'f 
Dun Aenghus) and (the traditional name of Caherdoonfergus) 

Wends of V"T 7'^^ "^' '^■^'"^' ^'^'^'^ ^«-- -^ '^^ eldest 
legends of the places ; but few such names can be traced behind the 

Gorman Invasion, and fewer beyond the Danish wars. The numerous fort 

the Battle of Ventry," and the forts in the legend of Moytura-Cong are 
now forgotten on the sites Such names as Caber Power, Caher Rice and 
Caher Sayers tell of late dates, and are not found in the Survey of iooS 
Le Rayth, near Dublin, became " Moenes-Rath," and eventually Rath 
m.nes, after the English Settlement. The fort called by ZToyXl^' 
mactn-eao , and by Windele, Cahermartinigh, is now Caherco.fc: ' and I 
name Cahernamairtzneach, has been transferred to a neighbouring fort 
which was called Caherdonnell fifty years ago. The Ordnance Sur y 
maps have restored not a few of the old names to use. The '' Grenans " 
o Aileach and Lachtna had lost their epithets; the forts at Tara had lost 
therr distinctive names. The son of Niall of the Nine Hostages is said to 
have given his name to Dun Leary ; but the name of Rath Laoghaire was 
fox^ot en at Tara. Names like Cahermacclanchy, Cahershauglmessy, Tnd 
Caherdermotygreefa, Rathfarnham, and Bagotrath are evidently late ;ther 
names have been misapplied, as Dun Criffan at Howth, which if the 
ancient account in the Dindsenchas* be correct, was visible from Meath, 
and herefore probably stood on the " Doon Hill," and not on the head 
and hidden rom Meath. It is, however, pleasing to find the names 
of Maeve and Cuchullin, Balor and Lon mac Liomhtha ; the Firbolo-s 

Cuio mac Dan-e, Imn and Ossian, Dermot and Grania, clinging b^ 
tradition to some of our forts, even though the names are but shadows. 

11.— Forts of the Irish Types in other Countries. 
Not long ago any attempt to equate the forts of Ireland with those of 
Greece-to see analogies between the citadels of - gold- abounding Mycen* " 

* " Uindsenchas, Hovue Celtijue" (1894), p. 290. 

16 Westropp — The Ancient Forts of Ireland. 

and the well-walled Tiryns " on the one hand, and the forts of Aenghus, 
Conor, or Irghus, on the other — would have been adversely judged, and the 
bold writer covered with ridicule. Now, despite the dislike of a decreasing 
band of adherents to the old views, the likeness is acknowledged, and the con- 
nexion, or rather the descent, of the Bronze-Age art of Greece and Ireland 
seems fairly well established. Strange it is that early legends (whether by 
a happy guess or otherwise) attributed the colonization of oiu' island to 
tribes advancing from Greece or the neighbourhood of the Euxine ; and, 
stranger still, that some warrant should be found in the stern archaeology 
of facts for this fairyland of far tradition. Ever westward pressed swarms 
of settlers along the lines of the Baltic and the Danube, and right across 
their track passed the trade in jet and amber from Greece to the Baltic. 
We can readily see in those facts an unbroken chain of possible connexion ; 
and when the chain of ruined forts (of the same types as are found 
in Ireland) extends without a break from Thessaly and Bosnia through 
Hungary, Prussia, the Low Countries, France, Switzerland, and the 
British Isles, we can hardly fail to draw the only apparent conclusion. In 
our wish to avoid mere theory, we do not intend to go into the question of 
Etruscan fortresses, which probably (like the northern forts) go back in 
origin to the same great centre — the city of the Lions' Gate ; still less 
dare we do more than recall to our readers the more unanswerable problem 
of the far isolated group of great and pre-historic hill-forts on the hills of 
Mashonaland, and the earthworks of the Ohio, which, on a grander scale, 
show such very striking analogies to the forts of Ireland. These call for 
long and careful investigation ; for the last words had not been said on the 
former question when the work of Vallancey, O'Brien, and Betham fell into 
disrepute, and the exponent of a theory in the great puzzle of Central 
Africa has yet to arise.* 

One would be disposed to turn to Galatia to see whether any remains 
similar to our forts are to be found in that early " Gaulish " settlement; 
but though we find features like the corbelled passages of Irish forts and 

* "The Mediterranean Kace," p. 44, suggests a migration from inner Africa (Somaliland) to 
the Mediterranean, but the subject is at present too precarious to suggest any connexion with the 
Irish Forts. 

Westropp — The Ancient Forts of Ireland. [ 7 

low trilithic doorways in tlie fort of Pteria, we arc comjJelled to equate 
them more directly with the Mycenaean than with the " Gaulisli " period* 
Petrie, and not a few others of our older antiquaries, saw remarkable 
resemblances between Irish cahersf and the great fortresses of Greece and 
Etruria. Some only noted this without building much theory upon it ; 
others made it the basis of elaborate inverted pyramids of conjecture ; but 
none seem to have followed up the subject step by step to see whether 
there was any probable connexion traceable. We ventured with some doubt 
to indicate briefly and scantily liow identical examples occurred from 
Ireland to Austria ; and at the same time another member of the Academy, 
Mr. Coffey, was publishing a series of articles on early Irish ornamentation, 
which gave a clue to the manifestly Mycenaean influence in this early art. 
So it can be seen how easily suggestions for fort-building might have been 
carried across eastern Eurojie and up the Baltic on undoubted lines of inter- 
course between Mycenae and the north, along which the trade in jet and 
amber had proceeded for centuries. J There these ideas rooted and pro- 
duced forts of the Bronze Age in the Danube Valley, in Bosnia, Hungary, 
Bohemia, Germany, and Livonia, whence the westward movement of tribes 
and nations carried the designs into western Germany, Gaul, and the 
British Isles. Dr. Christison, Mr. Borlase, and Dr. Munro were at the 
same time publishing works which helped to weld the chain of facts from 
Ireland to the Euxine ; and, in this light, the theories (such as that founded 
on the late legends of the sons of Huamore, which for fifty years had 
satisfied Irish antiquaries) appeared too weak and partial for future 
acceptance, sufficient for a county or two, insufficient for the forts of a 
continent, or even the 30,000 forts of Ireland. 

5. Greece. — Commencing at the centre where, as we believe, lay the 
source of those traditions of art and building, which over a thousand years 
before our era flowed northward, and put their mark even on the rough 

*■ Revue Archeologiquo, N.S., xxiii. (1872), p. 210. 

t "Military Arctitectiu-e of Ireland" (MSS. R.I. A.), pp. 116, 175. 

X Professor W. Ridgeway points out (" Early Age of Greece," 1901, p. 359) that amber found 
in Mycente, Bosnia, and the Swiss Lake-dwellings is shown by analysis to be of Baltic, and not 
Mediterranean, origin. 


18 Westkopp — The Ancient Forts of Ireland. 

tribes to the north of the Danube, we must briefly consider what structural 
phenomena akin to those of the Celtic forts are to be found in the citadels 
of Greece. Apart from countless similarities in weapons and ornaments, 
the great fortresses of Proetus and Agamemnon afford us features of build- 
ing whicli, like the former objects, probably originated a school whose last 
disciples worked in Ireland two thousand years after the bright early dawn 
of Greek civilization had been over clouded. The Greek fortresses, though 
(with the exception of the Thessalian acropolis hereafter noted) very 
dissimilar in plan to the subjects of this essay, resembled the " Celtic " 
forts in girding the summits of knolls of rock. In Mycenae is an " upright 
joint," a section of wall called a "tower," but not projecting, and only 
forming a revetment to the debris of ruined houses. The masonry is of 
very variant character in portions of the wall, and often resembles, on a 
larger scale, the masonry of Irish forts as our older antiquaries long since 
noted, though strangely oblivious of the greater size of the " Pelasgian" 
stone-work which befitted the wealthy and luxurious citizens of that 
wonderful civilization. The walls in some cases had dry filling of rude 
and small stones. The great trilithon of the Lion's Gate finds smaller 
analogies in Munster and Connaught. So do the springs outside the walls 
so contrary to the notions of modern and even of mediaeval defensive 
work. The Greeks, like the Irish, defended against assault rather than 
blockade, for no siege in a modern sense took place (so far as we know) till 
long after the crops had grown above fallen Ilium. The more honoured 
dead were buried within a ring enclosure, the person who approached the 
gate of Tiryns had his unshielded side next the men on the wall ; the 
great passage covered by corbelling in the rampart of the same acropolis 
had its shadow in Grianan Aileach and the Kerry forts ; but this may be 
a mere resemblance, as no very exact analogy can be found in the forts of 
central Europe. The masonry was coursed, "cyclopean," or polygonal, 
and in some cases had spawls or packing pieces fitted in the interstices, and 
loose filling in the centre. Some Antiquaries consider the "cyclopean" 
work is later than the coui'sed, in fact not much earlier than 500 B.C. A 
circular building, which can scarcely be later than the year B.C. 700, has 
been found at Amorgos ; and the great lake fortress of Gha or Arue 

Westropp — The Ancient Forts of Ireland. 19 

is reproduced in the little walled islets iu the lakes of Scotland and 

6. Thessaly. — There is an acropolis near Volo which Dr. Kirker, staff 
surgeon of H. M. S. Amphion, described in a letter published by his 
bi'other.f This fort closely resembles the Celtic type, as it seems to have 
consisted of two, if not three, concentric ring-walls round a limestone 
knoll. It lies three miles to the south of Volo, and near Cape Angistiri, 
and was not described in any book or known to any antiquary at Athens 
so far as Dr. Kirker could ascertain. The walls are built of heavy 
" Cyclopean" masonry, which, from the nature of the rock, closely re- 
sembles some of our cahers, but is of larger blocks 7 to 8 feet long, and 
2 feet by 3 or 4 feet in section. (In the Clare and Aran forts we have 
seldom found blocks exceeding 7 feet by 2 feet by 1 foot). The inner- 
most ring utilised a precipitous crag as portion of its rampart ; it is 
150 feet in diameter; a radius wall, 19 feet thick and 180 yards long, 
runs to the outer ring in a north-westerly direction. Lower down the 
slope is a wall, a quadrant of the circle towards the west ; a gateway 
lies to the south. The outer ring is also 19 feet wide, and 730 feet 
across the inner side. An outwork like that at Dun Aenghus and 
Dun Conor in Aran lies to the S.W. There is a double gate beside it. 

7. Dalmatia. — We find one " promontory " stone fortress described as 
remaining on a peninsula near Sebennico ; there is no trace of a gateway, 
and a holed-stone lies near the wall. The other points are not clearly 
defined, but it seems to have been a prehistoric structure. :]: Early hill 
forts, some of large blocks, are also found. 

* We select these from a vast number of available works as Dr. Schliemaim's "Mycense and 
Tiryns " and Dr. Tsoimtas (Ed. Dr. Manatt) " Mycenasan Age," p. 27 and p. 261, &c. Mr. George 
Coffey's valuable papers on tbe evolution of early Celtic ornaments may be found in the Journal 
R.S.A.I., 1894-1897. 

t Journal of the lloyal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland, xxiv., 1894, p. 271, S. K. Kirker. 
The plan is here-with reproduced, figm-e 2. 

J "Land of the Bora," p. 56; see also "Dalmatia and Herzegovina," (S. J. G. 
Wilkinson, 1848). 


20 Westr(^pp — The Ancient Forts of Ireland. 

8. Bosnia-Herzegovina. — Wallburgen and hill-forts of a kind closely 
resembling our lisses occur with tumuli and burials of the Bronze Age 
near Glasinac, an elevated upland ; some 20,000 tumuli are found in groups 
of several hundred in twenty or thirty jDlaces ; in a few instances cists occur, 
and also about twenty-three forts ; usually one wallburg lies near each 
cemetery. The skeletons in the tumuli had, in some instances, their feet 
turned towards the fort. In Ireland, save at some motes in Wicklow, the 
cists in the majority of cases seem to be turned eastward without any 
regard to the forts which occur among them. In all probability the Bosnian 
forts and tumuli are contemporaneous, and the Irish forts are later than 
the cairns and cists.* Dr. Montelius considered the "finds" as dating from 
extremely early times to the fifth century, B.C. (1100-500 B.C.). Amber 
occurred among the ornaments, and southern influence was apparent 
in the bronze antiquities. Near Mostar is a district extremely rich in 
remains of the class with which we are concerned; among these we may 
note the great stone fort of Mala Gradina ; on the hill above it is a large 
cairn. The fort is irregular in plan, and contains three tumuli. The 
Romans established a camp there by running walls of stone and lime upon 
and over the old defences. 

Pottery with patterns similar to specimens found in the North German 
" Burgwalls" occurs in tumuli in the neighbourhood. The fort of Ogrdch 
(Ogratch) lies to the S.W. of Mostar. It is a stone fort enclosing a ridge, 
and built of loose irregular blocks, 1290 by 383 feet in extent. In the 
higher ground, at its southern end, and within its walls, is a long, large 
cairn about 20 feet high ; at the northern and lower end is an oval ring- 
wall 170 by 110 feet; a long enclosure curves round the fort, and encloses 
the ridge up to and round the tumulus, whence an equidistant wall forms 
a long entrance passage to the left. The total length of wall is about 4050 
feet. On the hill of Kicin (Kitshen), rivsing 400 feet above the plain over the 
Bunica river, and north of the last, is a dry stone fort with two concentric 
ring-walls on the summit, and two curved walls extending from a precipice 
along the lower slope. The little central enclosure is 55 feet diameter, the 

*Thus, also, in Yorkshire, the tumuli are of the Stoue Age, and many neighbouring forts of 
the Bronze Age. See, infra, section 30. 

















11 a 









22 Wkstropp — The Ancient Forts of Ireland. 

outer ring 237 feet, the others 1408 and 975 feet from the upper fort; two 
other curved walls defend a low spot on the ridge beside the river ; and about 
this point numerous foundations of circular huts remain, 9 to 12 feet diameter. 
A later stone and mortar breastwork of Roman times stands among these. 
On an isolated hill to the east of Mostar is another small prehistoric stone 
fort, also enclosing a cairn or " gomila." The enclosure is 247 by 211 feet, 
and is oval ; on the plain below are many tumuli. 

The great " Wallburg " of Debelobrdo is an oval dry-stone fortress, 
360 feet by 113 feet, on a hill top. Immediately below are traces of early 
settlement on a plateau named Sobunar, whence the inhabitants could 
quickly find shelter in the hill-fort above them. 

There are other ring-walls, circular, elliptical, trapezoid, or conforming 
to the hill, closely resembling tlie cahers of our western districts ; in some 
cases, as at the ring- wall of Puhovac, the walls have proper facing of 
dry stones, the forts vary from 30 to 300 feet across, and in some the 
entrance of the main fort is defended by a lesser ring. Finally, we may 
note the great " Hausberg," near Stonegg, a flat-topped mote with three 
lofty concentric earthworks girding it, and resembling the great "duns" 
of Tipperary and Limerick.* 

9. Roumania. — There are not a few resemblances between the 
antiquities of this district and those of Ireland. The place-name Dounon 
occurred in it in Roman times. At least one undoubted place of Celtic 
settlement, afterwards occupied by the Romans, remains ; a huge earth- 
work, " Caput Bovis " ; the walls are now nearly removed ; it rested on a 
hill above the valley of the Sereth. Earthen mounds are common between 
the Danube and the Carpathians. From excavations it would appear that 
some of these were motes, " outposts and places of observation," and not 
sepulchral tumuli. We may incidentally note among later monuments in 
the district that the short-armed cross with expanding base like the cross 

* " L'Antliropologie," tome v., 1894, 'So. 5, pp. 563-568. Eadimski, "Praehist. Fundstatten," 
Plate 135. "Bosnia-Herzegovina and Dabnatia," Dr. Robert Mimro. "Dolmens of Ireland," 
"WiUiam C. Borlase, vol. iii., pp. 1127, 1128. Plans of Ograc, Kicin, and Stonegg are given 
herewith. Figures 3 and 4. 

Westkopp — The Ancient Forts of Ireland. 23 

at St. Doulough's, Dublin, and the cross with roof-like top and enclosing 
circle (beyond which the arms slightly project) are not uncommon. The 
name Viodunum was found in this district in Roman times, and, strange to 
say, the very " Irish sounding" name Dinogeha still survives.* 

10. Italy. — It is hard to turn aside from the promontory forts, great 
Etruscan citadels, and terraced hills of the central peninsula of ancient 
culture. Comparison of Irish remains with Etruria is common with our 
older antiquaries, but the undoubted resemblance may arise from their 
common source in the farther east, while the more or less direct influence 
of Etruria on our islands has yet to be established. We need only recall 
a fine example of a terraced hill, Monte Musino— the ancient Ara Mutiaj— 
with four rings of terraces, and another, the Flavian Hill, with three 
terraces, for these remains closely resemble the Herefordshire Beacon, and 
certain other terraced hills in Scotland and Ireland, f 

11. Austria-Hungary.— Still going northward we find no falling o£F in 
the typical forts; the very name " Duna" appears in Hungary, but though 
attached to certain forts it may not be derived from the Celtic '' dun," 
as it is also the local name for the Danube. We cannot be too certain 
whether such names even as Duna Foldvar are not derived from the stream 
on the banks of which they usually are found. The forts frequently 
occupy the summits of high hills girt with precijjices, or the centre of 
nearly impassable boglands. The greater number are earthen, and they 
are called " Hrings," "Foldvar" (earthen camp), or "Poganvyar" (Pagan 
camp), and "Devil's ditches." 

Several types occur, all strikingly similar to the Irish ; for example, the 
plain oval " rath " of Maslak, girth with a fosse, and with a path turning 
to the left of the entrance, and therefore exposing the right side of an 
assailant to attack. The great " Hring " of B^ny consists of three crescent 
earth- works, the ends abutting on a steep slope above the river Garam the 

*" Untrodden paths in Eoumania," Mi-s. Walker, pp. 18, 27. " Roumania in 1900," 
G. Berger (Ed. A. H. Keane), p. 11. 

t Trans. Roy. Soc. of Literature, ser. 2, vol. xx., part i., p. 6». 

24 Westkopp — The Ancient Forts of Ireland. 

diameter of the central enclosure is 650 feet; thence to the second ring 
320,* and to the outer 715 feet. In all, this great fortress measures 
about 2100 feet over all, and contains two villages, Nag B^ny and Kio 
B^ny, within its rings. It resembles Dun Aenghus in plan being of a 
type occurring also at Cahercommaun in Clare, and Errickstaue in Scotland. 
Cserevics is a lofty mote girt by three other high and concentric rings ; 
it is also earthen ; a small fort occupies a spur of the hill. Zanka is a ring- 
wall, and has three lesser forts inside, like Emania and Caher Crofinn at 
Tara. Regoly fort has ramparts about 40 feet high, and measures 1312 
by 2165 feet over all. Velikigrad seems to consist of a large irregularly oval 
ring wall, the hill sloping steeply to each side, the more gradual approaches 
to the north and south being defended by two and three lines ; the entrance 
is to the north, and runs in a straight line through the three defences. 
St. Leonard's Church stands in a ring-wall, which Mr. Borlase rightly con- 
siders nearl}' identical in plan to the cashel of Innismurray. (Figure 23.) 
It consists of a massive cashel (stein mauer) irregularly circular in plan, 
following the edge of steep slopes. The enclosure is divided by two ancient 
walls forming an " S," while the church occupies a circular and (judging 
from the plan) an entrenched mound. Several promontory forts formed 
by cutting one or more ditches across a mountain spur are named, and, 
indeed, are the simplest of all forts, and often the most defensible. Much, 
in his Prehistoric Atlas of East Austria and Hungary, gives fine jilans of 
a noble mote, the " Hausberg" of St. Ulrich, which closely resembles such 
Irish motes as Lismore, Dundermot, and Knockgraffan, and has a high 
mound, which in this case has a slight earthen rampart, such as occurs 
in the mote of Slane, in Meath, and the lower platform enclosed in a 
"keyhole-shaped" fosse. A list of 66 of these forts has been pubKshed.f 

12. Bohemia. — A local term for these " Celtic" forts in Bohemia seems 
to be " Hradischt," pronounced Hradiste, and elsewhere "Hrad" or 

* Stated to be 520, but shown as above on the plan. 

f Report of Congi-es International d'Anthropologie et d'Archeologie Prehistoriques, VIII., 
1876, pp. 62, 79, 89, 98. W. Borlase, " Dolmens of Ireland," vol. viu., p. 1125. Much, " Pre- 
historic Atlas of East Austria and Hungary." Plans of Beny, Zanka, Cserevics, Velikigrad, St. 
Leonai'ds, and Stonegg are given herewith. 

Westropp — The Ancient Forts of Ireland. 25 

" Arad" (equated with our " rath," but used indiscriminately for forts of 
earth or stone). Dr. Ferdinand Keller describes several of these ; one 
consisting of an oval ring-wall, with a fan-like enclosure running down the 
slope, recalls examples in Ireland. Another is called Knezihora or "the 
Height of the Princes"; it is near the town of Katovic, and measures about 
360 feet by 186 feet inside. It suggests such an Irish fort as Langough, 
a ring with a long looped wall, and a semicircular enclosure lying within 
an outer rampart. The outer wall is 12 feet to 15 high, and the inner 
15 feet to 20 feet high; it is partly vitrified. Vitrified forts, with 
one exception, are confined to the south-east of Bohemia; they and 
numerous stone forts are of the Bronze Age, and have been attributed 
to the Celts. The Pleschiwetz, near Ginetz, is an unvitrified stone fort, 
its outer rampart 400 paces long. It has an oval ring-wall at the head 
of the plateau ; the lower ridge is defended by two other walls with 
several gates, while, lower still, a double wall girds the whole hill top. 
Local legend states that it is a fairy garden with "giants' cellars" under 
it, filled with treasures and wine ; the numerous holes dug in various 
directions tell of constant attempts of treasure-seekers to secure these 
hoards, and recall the similar beliefs, with like disastrous results, which 
attach themselves to many Irish forts. 

The Vladar fort, near Luditz, is of stone, with a rampart about 30 feet 
thick and 24 feet high. The Radelstein, near Bilin, is a ring- wall of dry 
stones on a rocky but wooded hill ; the view of this caher, by Much, might 
easily pass for an Irish fort. It has the further peculiarity that the wall 
is built in sections, as in the forts of Aran and Clare.* 

13. Russia, Esthonia. — Before dealing with Germany, we may conve- 
niently note that in Livonia, and the islands in the Baltic and near its coast, 
typical " Celtic " forts remain. Kruse gives a plan of a fine Bauerberge or 
fort of earth and stones on the island of Mohne. It consists of two nearly 
circular rings ; the inner has foundations of other enclosures, and has 

* Dr. Keller, Proc. Soc. Antt., Scot., 1868-70, p. 158-161. Borlase, "Dolmens of Ireland," 
vol. iii., p. 1130. Plans of the Hradiste, called Knezihora, near Katovic, and also of the 
Pleschiwetz are given on next page. 


















Westkopp— 27i« AiKieiU Forts of Ireland. 27 

entrances to the north-west and south-east, whence passages (the eastern 
marked largo stones) lead to the left as one leaves thf f„ t, probab ^ 
to expose the r,gbt side of any assailant. The outer ring is fenced w [ 
very large stones; and the whole recalls the caher of Ballykinvar.-a in 
Clare, though lacking the close-set abattis inside the ring of large s^oiies. 
The name Da.ngen ,s applied to these forts in Livonia ; and we fiL a river 
orLTnoT h 7," f r-"""'' »' "- «"" »' ^^^^' -tatever may be the 

origin of the names.* 

T • l^J'T'" ^^""^ *"'*' '^""^ " Ri"g-«^ur«/' and closely resembling 
Insh chff cahers One at Sodermanland is a crescent wall of great tl ck 
ness, another called Ismanstorpsborgen, in Oland, is a circnlarLll of dt 

tone and is crowded with burial enclosures. In West Gothland are many 
boulder cairns and dry-stone huts in which are found stone implements 

ay vessels and amber. On the Island of Moen are tumuli contS 
tombs of slabs with entrances to the east and south.f 

15. Germany, Prussia.-To return to Germany, keeping alone the 
nor hern section, we find many Burg-walls in which poteiy is ^ound 
.^ar^ hat found inlake-dwellings. Other ring-walls have ^ -lingunde 

S av ' • .^f "^V^ '" """'^ " ^^*"' ^^*^ *'^^- *'- incursions of the 
Slavonic settlers. Part of the mounds of at least two Irish forts were ove 
P hng-the great Dun of Dorsey, and Dungorkin. Tumuli called ffiine 
betten occur in Northern Germany. The Prussian Burg-walls are of earth 

rampaZ^^l"" T T ''^'''' ^'^^' ^^"^^^^^^^'^ «-^' ^^^^ "--- 

obZ . ^^;""-«-»ding fosse communicating with the water, sometimes 

oblong with the corners rounded. In more western Prussia near the 
Gei-man Ocean are lake-dwellings on piles, circular earthen forts, with 
double and triple rings, and deep fosses sometimes containing ;ater 
Some of the forts are called '' Hiinen ring," as, for example, one^ear te 

is ^^:^^i ''■' ' ""' -'''' '- ^-- " "^-^-" ^>'^ P^- of M...e 

Scaling' s'^-r''' IWT' ^^^^^^^--^-^'^ioW- "The Pri^tive Inhabitants of 
6canclinavia, S. Nilsson, Ed. Sir J. Lubbock, 1868, p. 126. 

E 2 

28 Westropp — The Ancient Forts of Ireland. 

great statue of Arminius. The absence of entrances is noteworthy, and 
recalls a jieculiarity of several Irish cahers and many raths.* 

16. Rugen. — In this great, and to the pagan Slavs holy, island are the 
remains of a clijff fort. This defends a jutting promontory, 175 feet high, 
which was inaccessible on the east, south, and north-east. The approach 
from the land side was fenced with a rampart of stones, sods, and timber, 
and a fortified pathway led to a well outside the fort. Within stood the 
great temple of Arcona, dedicated to the light-god Suantevit, the four- 
headed, but of this splendid timber structure we need only note that it was 
oval or round in two concentric rings, and had only one entrance. The 
ruin of such a building would closely resemble a nearly levelled rath. 
Three hundred grooms and as many sacred horses were kept, in order 
that the deity there reverenced might ride forth and aid his worshippers. 
Borlase considers Arcona a Celtic word, equating it with such names as 
Arcunia, Orcynia, Hercynia, and such Irish names as Ard Macha, Ard 
Nemidh, and Tor Conaing, and fancies that the description of the hall of 
Cormac mac Airt, at Tara, may be a description of the temple of that hero, 
but, even if we could accept his theories, the object of this paper would 
preclude us from discussing them.f 

17. Brandenburg. — A very fine mote, the Schlossburg, may be noted 
in the neighbourhood of Benau Friedersdorf, near Sorau. It is more or 
less circular, with a slight rampart, and two lower enclosures diminishing in 
size, lying down a slope, and enclosed with high mounds. Such earth- 
works round Sorau are known as " Hiinen Schlossen," or Huns' castles, as is 
also the case in Holland ; and cairns or mounds are called Huns' graves, we 
understand, by the Danes, who in their turn have wrongly been accredited 
with similar remains in Ireland. The long appended enclosures of these 
motes are called in Germany the " hagel" or hook. J 

* Borlase, "Dolmens of Ireland," iii., 1131, citing Lissauer ; Munro, "Bosnia-Herzegovina 
and Dalmatia," p. 93, &c. 

\ Ibid., vol. iii., pp. 1087, lO'JO. " Dalmutia and Montenegro," S. J. Wilkinson (1848), 
vol. i., p. 17. 

X Ibid., iii., 1125-1127. 

Wehthopp—T/ic Ancient Forts of Ireland. 29 

18. Baden and Hessen Nassau.— In Baden we find fortresses which some 
attribute to Celtic tribes and others definitely to the Ubii, 100 B.C. These 
great " Wallburgs " and " Ring- Walls " gird several hills. For example, a 
large fort of two concentric rings remains on the Altkonig Mountain in the 
Taunus; and a remarkable fort encloses the summits and ridge of the 
beautiful Heiligenburg overhanging Heidelberg. It was known to the 
Romans as Mons Pirus, and consists of a round fort about 650 feet in 
diameter on the higher peak ; thence a long loop of wall surrounds the 
saddle and lower peak of the mountain, on which stands a ruined church. 
The fort wall consists of great heaps of sandstone blocks, and the enclosure 
is about 2640 feet long and 440 feet across the ridge. 

19. Switzerland.— ''Ringbergs," or circular forts of earth, entrenched 
summits and promontory forts on spurs of mountains, remain in the neigh- 
bourhood of Berne and Zurich, and in the Jura. Deveher (Jura Bernois) 
girds a hill, and consists of an entrenchment with the entrance to the 
north. At Cheteley is a fort of three enclosures on a projecting neck girt 
with cliffs. Chateau Chalon (Jura) is a promontory fort with a semi- 
circular rampart across the ridge. Near Zurich are, for example, Birchweil, 
a "chateau payen," or "heydenmauer," consisting of a circular rampart 
round the top of Mount " Moulins," and the fort of Bassersdorf, a parapet 
and fosse across the end of a spur on the Horm. In one instance a 
promontory fort at Laufen, in Berne, is further protected by a line of 
low pillars, like the abattis at Castel Coz in France, and a few forts in 
the British Isles.* 

20. Alsace-Lorraine.— The forts along the basin of the Rhine are 
of considerable interest to Irish archgeologists. We may note a few 
typical examples. Haspelscheidt fort is of stone, with two enclosures, 
and is locally called the Schlossberg or Altschloss. The upper fort is an 
elliptical ring-wall on a plateau with steep slopes, and encloses a space 986 
by 524 feet. The walls are of rudely quarried blocks; and about 15 feet 
high, and 40 feet thick at .the base. A second lower annexe occurs, similar 

4^ 11 

' Diet. Archeologique de la (iuule, Epoque Celtique," i., pp. 122, 162, 271, 284, 339, and 
ii., p. 93, &c. 

30 Westeopp — The Ancient Forts of Ireland. 

to those in ihe Aran and Clare forts, and has a wall nearly 60 feet thick 
and 25 feet high. The upper fort has gateways to the east and west, 
and ruined buildings in its enclosure ; a small spring wells up not far 
from the west of the fort. The Hommerthurg is a ring-wall on an 
isolated rock. These forts are usually called " heydenmauer." One of 
them, not far from the Rhine, commands a fine view of that river, the 
Necker, and Mannheim, and is said to have been the place where Attila 
encamped for the winter before advancing against the Romans. It com- 
mands a pass, and is on an advanced spur of the mountains, a great 
natural bastion defended by steep, almost precipitous slopes. The fort 
consists of a circular wall about 2600 feet in diameter, a confused mass 
of stones heaj)ed round the platform which showed the foundations of 
many ruined buildings. It is partly protected on the side next the 
mountain by a fosse. The crest above it is named the Teufelstein, 
for, as has often been noted, popular superstition loves to connect these 
ancient forts with all sorts of spirits, from the fallen Archangel to the 
Banshee and the Phuca. On the crest of Tsennichel is another dry-stone 
fort, a long enclosure like Ograc, Katovic, Heiligenburg or Langough. It 
has a wall of large blocks laid in courses, without spawls or cement, 8 feet 
to 10 feet high, and 6 feet to 8 feet thick. Finally, M. Schweighauser 
describes another fort not of Roman origin, crescent-shaped in plan, with 
two transverse walls dividing the garth into thi'ee. The walls are 5 feet 
thick, of large, rough quarry blocks, sometimes bonding through the wall.* 

21. Denmark. — Motes with the lower enclosure and fosse of the Lismore 
and Dromore type occur in Denmark. Olaus Wormius, in 164:l,t states 
that, in Denmark, the sepulchral mounds were encompassed in some cases, 
though rarely, by circles of stones ; others were simple mounds of earth con- 
taining one burial, or, in other cases, a number of bodies. He describes the 
"Danewirck" made by Queen Thyra from sea to sea in a. d. 808. In 

* Memoirs of the Eoyal Society of Antiquaries of France, vol. v., p. 106, 1823. M. PMlippe 
de Golberg, on " Fortifications in tlie Yosges Mountains." ' ' Monuments Celtiques du bas Rhin,'' 
by M. Schweigtauser. " The Heydenmauer," vol. i., pp. 30, 33, London, 1832. 

f " Monumentorum Danicorum Libri," Book i. T. Molyneux, on "Danish Mounts," &c., 



..'1.. %!''«.•.•/. 


32 Westropp — The Ancient Forts of Ireland. 

later days it was strengthened by mounds and fosses,* and must have 
resembled the long entrenchments of Duncladh, tlie Danes' Cast, tlie Worm 
Ditch, and Cleeroe. The quotations from Wormius by Molyneux combined 
with the statement in Giraldus Cambrensis to familiarise the English 
speakers in Ireland with the name and idea of Danish forts. 

22. Holland and Belgium. — A very typical " rath," locally called a 
" Hune schans," lies on the Udeler Meer in Guelderland. It is a large, 
flat-topped, and roughly circular, earthen fort, with a fosse and, we think, 
from the plan, a second ring, a small mound, lies on the platform, and 
there are "gangways" or ramps across the fosse to the south and west. 
Four tumuli stand in the immediate neighbourhood. 

Groups of forts occur in Belgium, for example, at Lasne in Brabant, 
where six circular earthworks remain about 182 feet in diameter ; near them 
is a tumulus about 16 feet high.f Borlase notes a fortification on the coast 
of Holland named Enchusa, and compares its name and situation to those 
of Dun Aenghus (save for the high cliff on which tlie Irish fort is founded). 
" Natura loci munitum, maris furore objectum, quem in extreme terras 
margine situm despicit."J 

23. France. — Information regarding the forts of this countiy is very 
accessible, the main difficulty being the necessity of selecting from 
abundant materials. Many of the Gaulish forts are, however, different 
in construction from those which we have been considei-iug. Traces of 
frameworks of beams, held, together in some cases by bronze pins, and 
embedded in dry-stone walls, occur, as at the fortress of Beuvray 
(Bibracte ?),§ and bear out Caesar's description of such edifices. Two facts 
mentioned by Csesar, the excluded water supply of Uxellodunum and the 
outwork walled with dry stones and 6 feet high on the slope of Alesia, 
recall Irish forts. || 

* " Monumentum hoc validius ac firmius multo aggeribus et fossis redidisee." 

t " Diet. Ai-ch. de la Gaule," ii., p. 75 and p. 1126. 

\ Borlase, " Dolmens," iii., p. 1132, from Nijhoffs, " Bijdragen." 

§ " The Mount and City of Autun " (Hamerton), p. 64. 

II "Fossam etmaceriam sex in altitudineni pedum praeduserant." — Bella Gallico, vii. 69, 70. 

Westropp — The Ancient Forts of Ireland. 33 

24. Brittany. — Taking Brittany, on account of its close racial con- 
nexion with Great Britain, we may note that characteristic " promontory 
forts" remain in Finisterre ; for example, at Beuzec in Cap Sizun, near 
Quimper, a large cliff fort upon a headland. Two walls and several 
fosses and mounds defend an isthmus, the mounds increasing in height 
inwards. It has the foundations of several hundred rectangular buildings. 
one 32 feet by 16 feet ; it is called Castel Coz. We first meet a mound 
losing itself in the slope, extending only across about half the neck of the 
promontory. Inside this is a wall of granite blocks. Then, after crossing 
a spacious enclosure, we find two rows of blocks 4 feet high and 5 feet 
apart. Further still are earthworks and a stone wall curving outward. 
There are hut depressions at the end. Excavations have been made, and 
disclosed traces of an early Celtic settlement succeeded by a period of 
Roman occupation. At Laz, in Finisterre, near Kerzilaoenen, is a small 
fort 65 feet in diameter near a menhir and dolmen. In Morbihan we 
find a circular fort 215 feet in diameter. In Dinan, Cotes du Nord, it will 
be remembered, stood that unmistakable round-topped mote with fosse and 
ring of earth defended by palisades and wooden towers, of which and its 
assailants the Bayeux tapestry gives so spirited a view. The very name 
apparently preserves a reminiscence of the dun. H^nansal has a fort 
called Durestal, a semicircular structm-e 2270 feet across, with a large fosse 
and triangular annexe, the mounds 26 feet high and 39 feet thick at the 
top and 48 feet at the base. Langast is a circular fort, 687 feet in diameter, 
and has earthen ramparts, 22 feet thick, on a little hill over a ravine.* 

25. Normandy. — In Calvados, near Bayeux, is a fort called " La 
Burette," on a hill spur near Seulle, defended by two earthworks. At 
Aubry en Exmes, near Argentan, is an oval fort called " Chateau des 
Remains," and having two rings 20 feet high.f 

26. Seine Valley. — Some very large earthen entrenchments remain in 
the valle)^ of the Seine. The camp of Boudeville (fig. 3) consists of a great 

* "Diet. Ai' la Gaule,"i., pp. 291,292,91; ii., pp. 18,66,75. Archaeologia CambrenBis, 
er. iv., vol. ii. (1870), p. 287. Plan and view of Castel Coz given herewith, figs. 3, 4. 
\ Hid., i., p. 119. 


34: Westropp — The Ancient Forts of Ireland. 

series of enclosures containing 150 acres, and lies on a neck of land. The 
innermost fort is oval, of earth and rocks, on the end of the hill, with five 
radiating mounds down the slope farthest from the Seine to another semi- 
circular fence. In the oval fort is a " druid" pillar and many foundations ; 
the neck leading to the fort is crossed by two groups of double fosses and 
mounds. The three forts at Caudebec are on hills which overhang the 
town. The first is oval with an inner enclosure ; the second is formed by 
two trenches crossing a spur ; and the third is circular and encloses the 
remains of a Roman villa. Jumifeges fort is formed by great trenches 
across the neck of a bend of the Seine ; and there are numerous other camps 
from 400 feet to 680 feet in circumference, and 15 feet to 25 feet high. 
The Abbey of Jumifeges, as its Annals state, was built "ibidem castrum 
condiderant antiqui." In Oise, at Bailleu sur Th^rain, is an oval ring-wall 
of two ramparts of great size, about 3425 feet north and south, and 1370 feet 
east and west ; while, at Chartres, a ring-wall of " cyclopean " masonry 
girds the summit of a hill. 

At St. Germaine, in Bar sur Aube, is a fosse across a spur of a hill, 
85 feet long and 32 feet wide ; 1400 feet farther up the ridge are jiarallel 
fosses and mounds, 490 feet long; and at the end of tlie spur is a mote 
with an earth-ring, and called " Le Chatelet." An oval fort with deep 
fosses remains near Arces in Yonne.* 

27. Central and Southern France. — Chateau L' Archer, near Poitiers, 
in Vienne, has a "promontory fort" formed by a curved fosse and 
" oppidum " across a spur from a plateau ; while a similar fort at Cras in Lot 
had a rampart of beams and dry stones. Huilly, in Saone et Loire, is a 
circular fort on level ground, about 600 feet in diameter and over 60 feet 
higli. Entrenched tumuli and forts lying near dolmens (as at Challignac, 
in Charente) occur ; while near the Pyrenees, in Landes, several large 

* Society of Antiquaries of Normandy, Journal and Atlas, 1835, Plates vi. and -s-iii. 
'• Enti-enched enclosui-es," by M. Leon Fallue. "Diet. Archeol. de la Gaule epoque Celtique," 
parti., pp. 114, 108, 121, 172. Arehseologia Cambrensis, ser. v., vol. iii. (1886), "Pembroke 
shire Raths," and very many other authorities. Plans of Caudebec and BoudeviUe, figs. 3, 4. 

Westropp— y/^c Ancient Forts of Ireland. 35 

cii'cular forts girding the tops of hills remain at Sanguinada, Castera dc la 
Gouarde, and Puyoo.* 

28. Great Britain. — Here still more than in France the difficulty of 
selection presses hard upon us ; and, indeed, we can only note here and there 
one out of the many forts similar to the types prevailing in Ireland. The 
ease witli which material for fuller study can be procured absolves us from 
the task of giving anything like a general survey. Indeed, only for the 
necessity of imjjressing the fact how little unique or exceptional in type are 
our Irish forts we might almost have rested content with general state- 
ments as to the similarity. We will commence witli Scotland, following it 
with the forts of England, treating Cornwall, as it deserves, in greater 
detail ; and finishing with Wales, which brings our survey of non-Irish forts 
to a close. 

29. Scotland. — Dr. Christison's lists of Scotch forts reckon at least 
1300; a large number to anyone unaccustomed to the thousands of Irish 
forts. This abundance adds to our difficulties by obliging us to omit 
notes on many fine examples. The simple ring-fort, with or without con- 
centric rings and fosses, is of common occurrence. A good example with 
three earthworks occurs at Northshields in Peeblesshire. A fine oval fort, 
with two fosses and a ramp across the inner one leading to the platform, 
is found at Dinvin in Argyllshire. Arbory fort, in Clydesdale, has a ring- 
wall with the entrance to the east, but is greatly overturned. It is 
135 feet in diameter, with two irregularly concentric earthworks. Possibly, 
in such cases in Scotland and Ireland, the stone fort was an afterthought, 
built inside an older earthwork, as Mr. R. A. S. Macalister, with probability, 
considers was the case at Dunbeg in Kerry. 

Two of the Scotch forts, Cademuir and Dreva,t have the unusual 
feature of an abattis of stones set in the ground. Occasionally a Scotch 
fort has a passage, cells, or steps in the thickness of the wall ; and this 
feature is worked out very elaborately in the " brochs," which most 

* "Diet. Arch, de la Gaule," ii., pp. 1-50, 250. 
t " Early Fortifications of Scotland," pp. 225, 220. 


36 Westropp — The Ancient Forts of Ireland. 

interesting buildings, the limits of Irish fort types excludes from this 

The " j^romontory " fort, of course, occurs in Scotland as all over 
Europe. At Blackcastle rings, Berwickshire, are two curves across a 
triangular spur, and at Raebury Castle, Kirkcudbright, three fosses, and 
a rampart are found across a sea headland. 

The simple entrenched mote and the table mote with a " base court " 
or lower platform remain ; as, for example, Kirkland mote, Kirkcudbright, 
and the fine mote of Urr in the same shire. The latter rises on a hillock 
above the river Urr; the "base court" measures 460 feet by 220 feet, or 
228 feet by 220 feet excluding the mote proper, which is 25 feet high and 
entrenched ; the whole is girded by a fosse and earthwork. The axis, as 
is common, lies north and south. Another type, which, so far as we are 
aware, does not exist in Ireland, is oblong, both as regards base court and 
citadel. The fort, with one or more ramparts, crescent-shaped in plan, 
and abutting on a cliff or hillside, is common. A fine double example, 
two forts conjoined, each with three ramparts, remains at Coldingham. 
Errickstane in Annandale has three crescent-mounds, like the " Hring" 
of Bdny, while the Doon of Nunmill, a more beautiful example, abuts on 
a hill-slope in Kirkcudbright. It is a fort with two mounds and fosses, 
the interior, 154 by 202 feet, with trenches, 12 feet to 15 feet deep. 

Of cliff-forts, on more or less isolated rocks or knolls, there are 
examples in the stone fort of Gallanach on Kerrera Sound, whicli, by 
the way, has the extra defence of two high dykes of natural rock, and 
Dun Chonallaich, Argyll, like Cahercashlaun in Clare. The fort with the 
long loop is found in a few places, as at Finaven in Forfarshire, which 
measures 500 feet long east and west, and from 80 feet to 140 feet north 
and south. It is farther defended by a natural mound to the east. The 
fort is vitrified, and is said to have contained a well. 

Smaller forts set in the main walls, and representing a step towards 
towers and bastions, remain in Barnheugh fort, and Dungarry, on Ben 
Tuther. Trusty's Walls fort, near Anwoth, seems from the map to be 
defended by smaller forts on the fourth terrace of its eastern slope. 
Rectangular forts are not uncommon, and are often attributed to the 

KiRi^LAND noie, 










O 100 iOOFt 
1 1 1 


Fig. 5.— forts IN SCOTLAND. 



% 0, ,50'-^ 







38 "Westropp- — The Ancient Forts of Ireland. 

Romans, in some cases apparently with justice. Like their Irish equi- 
valents, however, many are more probably Celtic. 

The complicated forts, some with as many as eight mounds, have no 
Irish equivalent ; but the simpler form, with from one to three mounds 
and fosses, is represented. We find a rectangular bastion in the third 
outwork, on the slope below the curious double-walled oval stone fort of 
Castle Law, Perthshire. Some structural features call for brief notice. 
The rock-cut trenches, largely iilled up as at Castle O'er, Dumfriesshire, 
occur in Irish forts as at Tara (under the eai'thworks of the Rath of the 
Synods and the King's chair), and the hill-fort of Doon, above Kilfenora 
in Clare. Alignment of forts, a phenomenon not uncommon in Bohemia 
and of frequent occurrence in Ireland, is found in Scotland ; also great 
groups of hut-sites, as at Eildon Hill, where some hundreds occur. Forts with 
walls of loose stones, like the White Caterthun, are more rare than those 
with built walls. Masonry of various kinds occurs, the walls varying in 
width from 8 feet to 12 feet. Sometimes thin walls of 4 or 5 feet are 
found, or very thick walls from 14 to 24 feet wide. Sometimes, as in Irish 
forts, varieties are found in the same wall, as where a layer of slates was 
laid over as well as under larger stonework in a fort on the Island of 
Luing, Argyllshire. The forts not unfrequently lie on a sloping site. 

Polygonal masonry was used at Dreva with packing stones in the 
interstices. The coursed masonry found in not a few Irish cahers is not 
unknown in Scotland, nor is the batter (or sometimes curve)* of the wall 
face. Steps and chambers have been found in the south fort of Luing, 
and a gallery in the promontory fort of Dun Stron Duin on Barra Head. 

Some Scotch forts give evidence of the use of timber beams in the 
walls, like the forts in France already noticed, and which Csesar mentions. 
Vitrified forts are fairly common, at least fifty-three remaining in Scotland, 
while only seven are alleged to exist in Ireland, and, it is said, none remain 
in England — one supposed Welsh example, five in France, and a few in 
Germany and Bosnia complete the list which is merely mentioned here, to 
excuse or explain the fact of their exclusion from this paper, which is devoted 

* Brash, " Ecclesiastical Architecture of Ireland," p. 5, mentions this ciu-ved batter as 
existing in forts of Caithness and Sutherland. 

Westropp— 7%e Ancient Forts of Ireland. 39 

to the more usual forts of earth and stone. There are very few examples 
of fort gateways sufficiently preserved to be accurately measured. The 
smallest is 2 feet 6 inches wide.* Three have gateways from 3 feet 
2 inches to 3 feet 6 inches, two are about 5 feet, two about 6 feet, one 
7 feet 6 inches, and one 10 feet wide. Guard-rooms occur in two gate- 
ways ; in one case it is outside the gate. A curious form of fort, somewhat 
spiral in plan, occurs in Scotland and Montgomeryshire, and one examjole 
appears on the O.S. maps of Tipperary. Walled islets occur in Scotch 
lakes, as, for example, Dun Torquill in Loch an duin,t in N. Uist, which 
has a causeway of large stones. J 

30. England. — The plans common in Irish forts are very well 
represented in England. The round or oval fort, with or without fosses, 
is, as usual, the most common. For example, a typical group of forts and 
tumuli occur in the parish of West Tanfield in Yorkshire. Three forts 
stand in a line from N. W. to S. E., the two more northern have three 
rings, the southern has only one ; and (a curious fact) each fort has two 
entrances facing the N. W. and S. E. on the axial line of the forts. A fine 
and typical example at Winterbourne, near Bristol, is a great oval fort, 
540 feet by 420 feet, enclosing four acres, with a well and a long barrow in 
its garth. 

Promontory forts on sea surrounded headlands occur in Hampshire§ and 
elsewhere, but are most characteristic of Cornwall, where they are called 
" cliff castles," as for examjjle, one at Maen, consisting of a wall of large 
blocks, built up with smaller stones, and running across a headland ; the 

* There are, so far as we know, only four Irish forts in which the width of the main entrance 
approaches this narrow opening : BallyeUy, Dangan, Caherdooneerish, and Ballynasean. 

t "Eeliquary," i., No. 4, 1895. 

X Boy's "Military Antiquities," Plates xxvi-xlvi ; George Chalmer's Caledonia; Gentlemayi's 
Maga%ine, 1831, " Vitrified Forts in the Orkney Islands " ; Proceedings of Society of Antiquaries 
of Scotland ; " Early Fortifications of Scotland," Dr. D. Christison, and very many other 

§ Hengistbury Head, near Christ Chm-ch, has a straight fosse and double mound across the 
neck of the headland. Inside this we find a tumulus which contained an lu-n and human bones ; 
there were also some irregular oval enclosures, " Archseologia," vol. v., p. 237. 

40 Westropp — The Ancient Forts of Ireland. 

long lintel still remains on its gateway. To keep together our examples 
of Cornish forts, the district having so marked an individuality in race 
and history, we may mention the very tine ring-wall of Chun Castle. It 
has two walls and radiating lines between, with a rather complicated 
approach to the gateway. (Fig. 4). There is a fosse round the outer wall, 
as at Staigue in Kerr}^, and a very regular series of inner enclosures in the 
garth (somewhat akin to those in the caher of Ballykinvarga in Clare) ; one 
of these contains a well, an unusual feature in Cornisli, as in Irish forts. 
Of other ring-forts in the district, we need only cite Cairn Conan (Tre- 
goning), a large oval enclosure of earthworks faced with stones, measuring 
318 feet east and west, by 276 feet north and south. Triple ringed forts 
occur like Ty wardreath. In the Kelly Rounds and Castle Dor, we find 
the ring-fort with a side annexe, fan-like or semicii'cular in plan. While 
Castellack Round has pillars embedded in its wall* like the Irish caher, 
called, by Sir William Wilde, " Eogan Biel's fort," near the Church of 
Inismaine on Lough Mask. 

The ring-fort, with the fan-like side annexe, occurs in other parts of 
England, as at Marston Tressel in Northamptonshire. 

Another type of ring-wall, not quite paralleled in Ireland, is found 
more especially on Dartmoor. Like some of the Kerry forts, these en- 
closures are known as "pounds," and enclose the traces of hut-sites and 
cattle-pens. Grimspound seems to have a passage in the thickness of the 
wall, which is 20 feet wide. There is a well in the rampart. Throwleigh 
is of better masonry than Grimspound, but its walls are only 7 feet thick. 

The promontory forts on the spurs of inland hills are especially abundant 
in Yorkshire, along the Esk Valley from Guisborough to Whitby. Eight 
or nine of the spui's, mostly fortified with a single rampart of earth, some- 
times with a core of loose stones, more rarely with a facing of dry masonr}- 
of large blocks; in a few cases several fosses and mounds occur. The fort 
on the third spur from the west has a double earthwork with a ditch, and 
farther back three earthworks and two fosses. In the rere of these is a 

* For pillars embedded in the -n-aUs of forts, see Annual Reports of the Royal Institute 
of Cornwall (1865) p. 65. "Journal of the Archaeological Association," vol. xto., p. 1. 
Duu Bharpa as described in " The Reliquary," vol. i. (1895) p. 203. 

Westropp— r/^e Ancient Forts of Ireland. 


ring-fort ; still farther back a single mound crossing the ridge Then a 
mound ,, birds of the ridge from the west, and anoLr overlap 

ping It from the east, runnmg down the eastern slope to a bog. Behind 
he second rampart is a hut-site and several tumuli, hundreds of the latter 

IZnXir^ ""t"'' ""' '^""^^ ^ ^^^^"^^^ '' '^^-^ — d them. 
Among the tumuh are a flat-topped fort, with fosses and ring, and a circular 

earthwork contamn.g a monolith. The forts have been found to contain 

antiq-ties of the Bronze Age, while (as a rule) the tumuli belong to tl 

Stone Age. Of such forts on the coast the largest and most complex 

example xs probably Hillsborough, near Ilfracontbe, in Devonshire!' It 

occup:es a rocky promontory 300 feet high and about 40 acres in extent over- 

ri . ^ ' entrenchments which are parallel for half their exteni 

and then diverge. The entrance is placed so as to expose the unshielded 
ught szde of an assailant to the defenders. The walls are of loose and 
broken rocks, and a spring wells out beside them. 

aJ.T '"!"''^'^"/ '^' ''''''"* P^"" ""^ ^'^^t^^'^g ^^ '^^^ -"d steep slopes 
(hke the cahers of Feenagh and Cahercommaun, in Ireland, and perhaps 
Dun Aenghus) are not unrepresented in England. Two " horseshoe forts " 
each with four ramparts, occur in Northumberland in the valleys of the 
Breamish and TiH ; in them were found hut-sites, and stones witlf cup and 
ring markings Others occur near Bristol ; three existed at the cliffs at the 
Suspension Bridge two of which were unfortunately levelled and built over. 
Ihe Uifton fort had a rampart 455 yards long with a double fosse, and a 
heap of stones between ; Stokeleigh had a similar defence, and its well 
lay at some distance from the rampart. A horseshoe fort, with a straight- 
sided outer enclosure, remains abutting on a steep bluff at Bannishead 
near (Joniston. ' 

As a good example of a hill-fort we cannot omit the great Worle Hill 
tort, near Weston-super-Mare, on a hill overlooking the Bristol Channel 
It IS a quarter of a mile long and 240 feet wide, enclosing fifteen to twenty 
acres. Seven dykes cross the ridge, and in front of the caaip is a sort of 
abattis of loose stones. The cross ramparts turn westward at the ends to 
protect the flanks, those on the north being unnecessary from the steepness 


42 "Wkstropp — The Ancient Forts of Ireland. 

of the slope. The fifth and seventh ramparts are piles of loose liraestone 
12 to 14 feet high and 25 feet thick, recalling the description by Tacitus, 
"in modum valli saxa praestruit."* The fort has been much ruined by 
the builders of the neighbouring town. 

The English motes are from 12 feet to 50 feet high. Their builders 
sometimes took advantage of a natural mound (as in the case of those carved 
out of the eskars in King's County, Ireland). The base court was circular, 
oval, or crescent-shaped in plan, and the whole was girt with a deep ditch, 
which, in some cases, as at Great Canfield, in Essex, was partly formed by 
a natural stream which filled the ditch. f Many of these motes only date 
from Saxon times, the construction of some twenty being recorded in the 
Anglo-Saxon Chronicle from the eighth to the tenth century ; they formed 
the citadel of the "ton" or village. About 265 remain in England; they 
are scax'ce in the three northern counties, but are evenly distributed over 
the rest of the country. 

Terraced iiills like the notable " Beacon" of Herefordshire, and great lines 
of earthwork like the " Devil's Dyke," barely call for mention. Vitrified 
forts are not known to occur in England. J 

31. Wales. — We have separated the Welsh from other British forts rather 
for the benefit of those of our students who can study them from Dublin 
with less inconvenience than they can explore those of Galway or Kerry 
than for any great difference from other forts in Great Britain. Irish 
influence is apparent in the ruins no less than in the jDoems of ancient 

* Ann. xii., c. 33. 

t Great Canfield Mote, by Rev. E. A. Doromnan. 

X The authorities are far too numerous to cite ; omitting the larger works, some of those more 
especially quoted above may be given :— Royal Institution of Corn-wall Annual Reports (1846); 
Henry M'Lauchlan, " Giants' Hedges," church in fort, &c. (1848-56), plans. Plates xxi-xxvii. 
( 1 865), p. 65. Pillars set in walls ; ring-wall round Church of St. Denis, &c. ( 1 864), Maen, by J. T. 
Blight, &c. Archaeological Association, e.g. vol. xvii., " British walls with inserted or included 
pillars." Yorkshire Archaeological and Topogiaphical Joui'nal, eg. vol. i., "\^'est Tanfield. Somer- 
Betshii-e Archaeological and Katm-al History Society, e.g. (1851) "Worle Hill. "Perambulation 
of Dartmoor" (J. Rowe). Gentleman's Magazine, especially the recent reprints in its "Library 
of Archaeology " for inland promontory forts. And " Archsologia," especially v., Hengistbury, 
Francis Grose ; vi., six., Gloucestershii-e, T. J. LI. Baker; xlii., p. 32, Cissbmy and High Doon, 
by Col. A. H. Lane Fox; xliv., p. 428,Clifton, &c., Rev. H. M. Scarth. 

Westropp — The Ancient Forts of Ireland. 43 

Wales. We find hut-hollows called " Irishmen's huts,"* and raths 
(occurring with the legend of Irish settlers) in Pembrokeshire. Ring-walls 
are not uncommon. A good example, with a chambered terraced wall like 
the Irish forts and a side enclosure, may be noted at Pentyrch, in Carnar- 
vonshii-e.f Caer Drewyn, near Bala, has compound walls 15 feet to 20 feet 
thick, with a terrace ; along the top of the wall are hollows with regular 
faces supposed to have been chambers ; the rampart has several sallyports 
and is nearly a mile in girth. Tre Ceiri, Pen y Gaer, and Carn Goch forts 
have also got terraced walls.J This is a notable feature, as we have not 
met it in Continental or English forts ; while the traces (if any) in Scotch 
forts are very vague. Indeed, as a rule, it is absent even in Ireland, 
though (from its occurrence in such remarkable examples as Dun Aenghus 
and other Aran forts, Ballykinvarga, Cahercommaun, and other important 
Clare forts, Grianan Aileach, Caherdorgan, and several notable cahers in 
Kerry and Galway) most archaeologists have come to regard it as typical 
and not exceptional in Ireland. 

Dun Sylwy, in Anglesey, and Caer Creini have got an arrangement of 
stones laid on edge in their masonry, recalling forts near Lough Gur in 
Limerick, and Cahernaspekee, the baun near Cashlaun Gar, and the caher of 
Carrahan in Clare. Caer Creini has also got a rock cut "way" over its 

The ordinary mote is found, but not in great numbers. About nineteen 
occur, eight being in Radnor, five in Montgomeryshire, and three in Denbigh- 
shire. Single examples are found in Glamorgan, Pembroke, and Flint. For 
example, Hendomen, in Montgomery, closely resembles in plan Dundermot 
in Antrim. Rhy yn Owen seems to be a combination of a mote and a pro- 
montory fort, as it occupies a spur.§ Nantcribben mote is 120 feet in 
diameter, no uncommon size in Ireland. 

Promontory forts abound as much as in Ireland or Brittany. A few 
examples will suffice. Penrhyn Coch or Castell Coch consists of three 

* ArchsBologia Cambrensis, ser. iv., vol. iii., p. 239. 

f Plan, vol. iv., ser. iii.. Arch. Cambrensis. Plan of Pentyrch herewith. Fig. 4. 

X Archoeologia Cambrensis, Ser. v., vol. iv. (1887), pp. 247-254. 

§ Similarly, the mote of Ardniircher, Westmeath, had fosses across its spur. 



Wkstropp — The Ancirnt Forts of Ireland. 

straight earthworks across a ueck of land. There is a dohiien in the 
neighbourhood. Caerfai lias three curved works and the remains of a 
fourth, convex towards the land side as is usual. St. David's Head, besides 
a group of huts, has three lines of stone walls, and an outer wall enclosing 
between itself and the three walls several huts and a dolmen ; while 
Llanunwas has evidently been cut deeply by the sea since it was dug, as 
a creek runs in directly behind the earthwork, and there is no evidence 
that the earthworks were purposely formed to cover the creek, as suggested 
by Mr. Barnwell, while the inroads of tlie sea on some of our Irish forts 
are well recognised. 

Fig;. 6.— Pen C»er Helen. 

The important fort of Pen Caer Helen has the rare feature of an 
abattis among its defences. 

Hut groups occur, the most notable being in the great fortresses of 
Braich y Ddinas above Penmaenmaur, Tre Ceiri, and Dun Sylwy. The 
Irishmen's huts, in the latter, show those curious slab structures and 
kerbings which appear in some of the huts at Fahan in Kerry. 

Of " horseshoe " rings abutting on a cliff, we have Marloes, in Pembroke- 
shire ; an inner enclosure with three outer rings and a deep fosse, on the 
edge of a sea cliff. 

Tre Ceiri and Dinas Dinorwig have been described in forms so accessible 
that we need only go very generally into their salient features. The first- 
named fortress rests on a steep mountain 1500 feet above the sea. It is 
about 1000 feet long and from 180 to 300 feet wide. It is girt by a wall 
about 12 feet thick and high. There are several outworks and lines of 

Westropp — The Ancient Forts of Ireland. 


Fig. 7.— Gate of Tre Ceiri. 

defence to the west and south. The lintel of the N.W. gateway is in position ; 
the wall has at least one terrace, and is believed to have had two. The 
garth is about five acres in extent, 
and crowded with the basements of 
huts in groups or rows. They were 
probably not beehive huts, but, like 
those in the Clare cahers, thatched 
or sodded. We have seen very effi- 
cient roofs made in Connemara by 
herdsmen out of long "scraws'' 
of sod thrown like tablecloths over 
a little oval enclosure, with low dry-stone walls, and not even propped 
by timber. Perhaps in the caher huts this was often the case, and it 
would account for the small amount of stones and rubbish. The site 
slopes southward, and near the lower end is a small well. The local name 
for the ruins is also "Irishmen's huts," and it has been supposed to be 
"a last stronghold of the Gael against the Cymri." Dinas Dinorwig, in 
Carnarvonshire, occupies a lower but commanding hill, and overlooks the 
lowlands from the forts on Penmaenmaur on the north to Tre Ceiri on the 
south. It has two bold earthworks of irregular plan and an inner and 
massive stone wall, with a garth about 500 feet by 380 feet. A small ring- 
wall about 42 feet wide stands on a neck of crag at the northern end ; the 
main approach turns to the left, and exposed the right sides of assailants to 
the defenders, who could also make a long stand in the looped ends of the 
outer earthworks. 

Mr. Robert Burnard informs me, with regard to the age of the forts, that 
of those he has excavated, Carn Brea has been occupied as a place of 
defence from the Bronze Age to the Iron Period, while St. David's Head and 
Trigarn seem to be of the Iron Age. The Dartmoor forts yielded only 
flint chippings. These facts are parallel with finds in Irish forts, where 
certain raths in county Galway only yielded flint; Dun Aenghus and 
Cahermacrole flint and later bronze finds ; the Dunbell raths and forts 
(such as Knockgerranebane) in Counties Galway and Clare, bronze ; and 
Caherspeenaun, Cahercalla, and Tara, iron objects. It is by no means 

46 Westropp — The Ancient Forts of Ireland. 

improbable that Wales may have been invaded by Irish predatory bands 
and forts built or dug by tliem, but as we have striven to show the types 
of Irish forts have their equivalents, not only in Welsh forts, but even far 
to the east across Europe.* 

III. — The Age of the Forts. 

In the important question of the age of the construction of the Irish 
forts, this paper rather strives to bring together evidence than to state (still 
less assert) any very definite view. Facts seem to point to a date at least 
B.C. 800 for the occupation of some of the Bosnian and Hungarian forts, 
while some of the Scotch andli-ish ones were either built (" construitur " is 
used in Latin annals) or entirely rebuilt between 800 and 1100 of our 
era. Some facts tell in favour of an early date for some of our Irish 
forts; it is, for example, impossible to attribute Moghane or Caher- 
shaughnessy to a period later than the conquest of Thomond by the 
Dalcassians, circa a.d. 370, and what tribe of sufficient importance to 
have built Dun Aenghus held Aran since the same date would be hard 
to conjecture. The Pagans of Aran, for example, seem to have been 
few, and with little powers of resistance, when St. Enda established 
the first Christian mission in Aranmore, at the end of the fifth century, 
while the Dalcassian princes resided near Limerick about a.d. 440, and 
did not need large residences north of the Shannon. A mass of tradi- 
tions, records, and the unconscious allusions in Irish laws and literature 
show still more cleai'ly that fort-building flourished in Ireland down 
to the rise of the peel-towers under English example. More than this 
suggestion it would hardly be safe to state, for the evidence is at present 

* Pennant's " Toiu- to Snowdon," p. 174 ; Archreologia Cambrensis, ser. iii., vol. iv. (1858), 
especially " Earthworks and llotes " ; vol. vi., " Carn Gogh " ; vol. xi., " CUff Castle of Maen " ; 
vol. X., " Eaths in Pembrokeshire." Ser. iv., vol. ii., " Tre Ceiri " ; vol. iv., "Pentyrrch"; 
vol. vi. (1875), " Cliff Castles in Pembrokeshire," forts on St. David's Head, &c. ; iloated Monnds, 
vol. ix., " Craig y Dinas " ; vol. xii., " Din Silwy, Pen Caer Helen," Promontory Forts, Tre Ceiri ; 
vol. xiv., "Pen Caer Helen." Ser. v., vol. iv., "Caer Drewy," "Craig y Dinas," &c. 
Montgomeryshire Historical and Archaeological Collections, vol. x. (1877), " Hendomen Moats," 
&c. ; vol. xvii., 1884, "Moated Mounds." 

Westropp— I%e Ancient Forts of Ireland. 47 

equivocal; and whatever dates may be hereafter fixed, it is probable 
that such forts were made and the types and details handed down unaltered 
from remote prehistoric times to the thirteenth century. We find (before the 
year 1242) the rath of Clouroad "a princely circular abode of earth" made 
for Donchadh Cairbreach O'Brien, while his grandson built six towers, 
and in the days of his great-grandsons the cahers were grass-topped and 
deserted, save by a few outcasts lurking in their souterrains (a.d. L'-ilT).* 

32. Doubtful Criteria. — Despite the assertions of several antiquaries 
whose opinion carries much weight, we cannot consider that anything 
even approaching an approximate date has been fixed for any prehistoric 
period in Ireland : the Age of Bronze in one district in eastern Europe 
may have coincided with the Stone Age or Iron Age in another, and 
similar ornaments or implements in Mycenae and the Boyne or 
Shannon Valley may be very differently placed in the centuries. 
Ireland, in its artistic conservatism, reproduced features and ornaments 
of eighth century buildings in the fifteenth century, and even if older 
art reached here 500 years before Christ, it might by analogy have 
lingered on to the third or fourth century. We must bear in mind 
this caution when dealing with finds in forts. Another serious doubt 
might arise, namely, the possibility of a caher having been built (like many 
a modern garden -wall) round a spot enclosing earlier objects of antiquity. 
Thus the flint implements found in Dun Aenghus may have been lost on 
the hill by hunters ages before one stone of the great walls rested on another, 
while the fifth or sixth century bronze brooch found near them may have been 
lost when the tops of the abattis were already worn with centuries of storm. 
Neither is more useful for accurately dating the fort than a Roman coin, 
and a coin of Victoria found in a modern garden would be for dating its 
walls which were built ages after the Roman Emperor, and perhaps a 
century before the later monarch. We know of bronze celts found in 
modern yards and a cinerary urn under the floor of Monasterboice Church, 
and all these things teach us great caution in trying to fix dates. 

*• " Wars of Turlough," 1317, " Euan of the grass-topped hollow (Ooans) cahers." " Even 
a man iu au Ooan," i.e. a caher us still used in the district names. 

48 Westropp — The Ancient Forts of Ireland. 

We have also to consider the possibility of rebuilding having taken 
jilace. Did (for example) the Clancys, O'Davorens. O'Drineens, the 
O'Briens of Inishere, or the 0' Conors never rebuild the ring-walls in 
which they lived, till the sixteenth or seventeenth century ? 

The rebuilding of the Board of Works at Dun Aeughus* or Inismurray 
is now nearly equalised by the Aveather with the early work. The forts 
are less weather-worn than some of our Irish churches of the eighth or 
ninth century. The material most jirobably had been weather-beaten for 
generations before it was levered up from the surface of the crag to build 
a fort. Only the weather wear of the tops of pillars can be necessarily 
attributed to the period since their erection. We could not be sure, even 
if O'Dunovan's theory was correct, and the Dubh Cathair really dated 
1000 years before Christ, that we have a single fort as it left the builder's 
hands, and the defaced inner wall of this fort is now rebuilt into terraces 
and steps which, to those who did not see the entire wreckage of the 
interior in 1878, seem genuinely ancient. Can we be more certain that 
the lintelled doors and steps of the dry-stone forts are more certainly 
"original" work than the mortar-built cut-stone steps and gate of Caher- 
ahoagh or Cahercugeola ? The gateway of Dun Aenghus has joints beside 
it which factf warrants Mr. P. Lynch in his belief that it is a later feature. 
It is hardly possible to question the marks of rebuilding at Caherfeenagh, 
Langough, and Caherdoonerish. The material admitted little difference 
of treatment at any period, and the hammer-marks on the stone-work 
of some of the forts occur on more than one of the dolmens in order to 

* The inroads of the sea do not supijly reliable data. It is quite possible that Dun Aenghus 
may have resembled Moghane in girding a hilltop with three ring-walls, but it may with equal proba- 
bility have resembled inland forts like Cahercommane over a di'y valley, Bau'nsdale in Scotland, and 
Beny in Hungary. The central enclosure may have alone been a ring, and the two other walls 
may have abutted on the clifi. The eastern part of Doonmore fort, Loop Head, is now isolated 
by the fall of a natural arch ; but a similar and even larger arch, not far from its site, was made 
in 1897, in one night, and pieces of cHfE 10 or 12 feet deep have collapsed in the last thirty years. 
The breaking of Illaun Fitae, on the same coast, into three is recorded in our Annals, about 
A.n. 902. 

f See Plate II. On the other hand, the joint through a flight of steps at Staigue implies 
that the work was mainly of one period. 

Westeopp — The Ancient Forts of Ireland. 49 

dress the sides to a straight edge before laying on the top slab,* and thus 
cannot be used for fixing any very definite date. 

33. The Older Legends. — What can we say of the legends or even 
the annals ? Tlie oldest and clearest are doubtful for the remoter past, 
and the use of "building" for "rebuilding" is common. Nevertheless 
there may be a certainty apart from historic genuineness — circumstances 
favoured the preservation of genuine legends apart from names and dates 
— and the impression left by our early literature, as a whole, is certainly 
that some forts, both of earth and stone, were no mysterious and half- 
forgotten objects, but were built in the writers' day, while others were even 
then supposed to have been built in remote and even in fabulous times. 

The Latin annals apply the word " construitur" to the building of a 
fort, and speak of such structures as existing long after their " destructio" 
and "demolitio" were recorded, thereby implying an entire rebuilding 
in the historic period. Some particular cases will be extracted here- 
after ; meanwhile it may be well to note a few of the legends in less 
historic works. 

Of course, we cannot, like Eugene O'Curry, gravely treat all (if we can 
treat any) of such legendary statements as hard fact. O'Curry and not a 
few other ardent students of later days seem to be strangely devoid of 
even elementary critical feelings ; else how could a poem of the seventeenth 
century be gravely quoted for facts of the fifth century or even a thousand 
years earlier, and such descriptions as that of Bricriu's " grianan," with 
its glass windows, liave been cited to illustrate ancient Irish residences ? 
Even the mention of a "rath-maker," or " casliel-builder," in a really 
ancient work, carries little conviction, for the "Book of Leinster " 
mentions Ileam, Solomon's cashel-builder, and Buchat, the rath-builder of 
Nimrod. We do not wish to quote more than a few of the allusions to forts, 
and select, in those cases, legends of actual value for elucidating the building 
or features of early forts apart from mere mention of a name or legend. 

The Grianan of Aileach is alleged to be of great antiquity, " authorities " 

* Journal R.S.A.I., vol. X3viii. (1898), p. 356. Later experience has confirmed these obser- 
vations by traces of hammer-dresBJDg ou several other dolmens. 


50 Westropp — The Ancient Forts of Ireland. 

varying in placing its foundation from 1700 to 670 before Christ. The 
Dagda, " Eochy Ollahir divided all Ireland between his sons; greyer than 
the grey mist was the man " : he also had determined to build a notable 
fort. " Hereupon were brought the two good men in art expert — Garvan 
and Imcheall " ; he told them to build " a rath of beauteous circles . . . 
Active Garvan proceeded to work with art and to chip. Imcheall placed 
a scaffolding of wood (or proceeded to cut the dressed stones) round the 
building, and finished the erection of the dangan of Aileach." " The 
oldest of the works of Erin is Aileach Frigrinn."* We may further learn 
from the Dindsenchas that the stones for the building were drawn by 
horses. The same work tells of the building of Emania, about 400 B.C., 
its plan marked out by Macha, daughter of Cimbaith, with her brooch, and 
dug by her rivals ; and the Book of Feenagh tells of a caher built about 
the same time (a fastness and a stone cashel) at Feenagh. Art, son of 
Setna, excavated the ramparts of Dun Ailenn in Kildare, and it was 
finished by Fiach and Ururus. In the first century B.C., Rathcrogan was 
made by Eochy Fidleach, father of Queen Maeve. The three chief rath- 
builders of Erin (Nas, Rone, and Alestair) to redeem their lives, forfeited 
to Eochy, son of Dua, for a supposed slight on his daughter Taltiu, built 
for the jjrincess the forts of Naas, in Kildare, Rathruinc, in Connaught. 
and Cluanalestair, on Slieve Callan, in Clare. Curoi, son of Daire, a 
generation later, by the treacherous counsel of his wife, dispersed his 
clans to erect Caherconree with " every pillar-stone in Erin whether 
standing or lying."t In the Christian era, Tuathal Techtmar founded 
Usnach about a.d. 80, while Luighdech Eithlenn built (or restored) Naas 
about A.D. 277. 

In other works we find of Tara that (except for a few structures of 
fabulous antiquity, such as Caher Crofinn, the fort of Cuchullin, and the 
triple fort of Nessa, mother of King Conor, in the first century B.C.) 
the majority of the buildings dated from the time of Cormac Mac Airt, in 
the possibly semi-historical period of the third century of our era. J 

* " Dindsenclias," Eevue Celtique, vol. xvi, (1895), pp. 41-42. Ordnance Survey of Ireland, 
Parish of Templemorc, Londonderry, vol. i., pp. 223-227. 

t "Dindsenclias," Revue Celtique, vol. xvi., p. 279; vol. xv., pp. 309, 463, 317, 448. 
X Trans. ll.I.A., vol. xvii. Journal E..S.A.I., vol. xxiv. (1894), pp. 233-240. 

Westropp — The Ancient Forts of Ireland. 51 

84. The Historic Period.— To come to historic times, Laoghaire, 
King of Ireland, in the early fifth century, made a rath (which is 
again called after his name) on the southern slope of Tara. Luirig 
forcibly built a caher at his brother's monastery, a.d. 513-534.* Grianan 
Aileach was destroyed by Finnsneachta, son of Donchad, King of 
Erin, a.d. 674, and demolished by the Danes in a.d. 937, and again by 
Murchad O'Brien in a.d. 1101; this implies at least two rebuildings in 
the seventh and tenth century, yet the remains are very primitive. 
Dun Onlaig was destroyed in a.d. 700, and rebuilt in a.d. 710 or 714. f 
Caisteal Mac Tuathal, in Scotland, a fort of early type, was built by a 
chieftain, Tuathal, who died in a.d. 865 ; Grianan Lachtna, a fort of 
earth and stonework, was built on Craglea, above Killaloe, by King 
Lachtna, great-grandfather of Brian Boru, before a.d. 840. 

King Brian, at the close of the tenth and dawn of the eleventh 
centuries, strengthened the duns, dangans, crannoges, and royal forts of 
Munster. He built Cashel, Cenn Abrat, Duncrot, Kincora, and Boruma, 
Duntrileague, Dun Cliach, and Island forts at Lough Gur and elsewhere.J 
The stone fort of Kincora was demolished in a.d. 1062; and again in 
A.D. 1098, when its stones and timber were thrown into the Shamion ; so 
evidently a true caher had been built and rebuilt in the eleventh century, 
even if the other caher on Lough Derg, which gave its name to King 
Conor na Cathrach (a.d. 1080-1120), was not, as has been alleged, actually 
built by him. Lastly, Donchadh Cairbreach O'Brien, Prince of Thomond, 
built his "princely circular palace of earth" at Clonroad before a.d. 1240, 
and we find the rath further defended with a ' mur,' or stone rampart ; 
about A.D. 1287, at which date his descendant, King Turlough, strengtliened 
it with a peel tower.§ 

35. Familiar to the Early Literary Men.— Apart from the allusions 
to traditions of the early fort-builders, one feels in reading the 
works of the pre-Norman poets and monks that a caher, or rath, 

* Irish "Nennius," p. 181. 

t "Ann. Ulster" and "Ann. Foui- Masters." 

X " Wars of the Gaedhil with the Gaill " (Ed. Todd), p. 141. 

§ " Wars of Turlough," 1240, 1306. 

H 2 

52 Westeopp — The Ancient Forts of Ireland. 

was a mere familiar object of daily life, not simply a relic of the 
remote past. Tlie Book of Lecan (p. 17) copies an authentic poem of 
Seanchan, circa a.d. 640, which mentions a battle fought in Burren, in 
county Clare, "from cloch comuir, the stone of meeting, by the three 
mounds of walled fortresses" — an evident allusion to triple forts, which 
find a more curious illustration in an ancient description of the Heavenly 
City, which evidently was founded on recollections of a triple caher, each 
enclosure one-third larger than the last, and a square fort in the centre,* 
like the cahers near Tuam. Nothing but great familiarity with such 
buildings in both poet and audience could have led a bard to illustrate the 
size of a huge ollapiast, or monster, by stating that "its ears were larger 
than the gateway of a caher. "t " The Battle of Moylena "J sings of the 
building of " three strong duns, three lofty murs of assembly, and three 
strong cahers." " The Battle of Ventry " tells of the destruction of three 
cahers — Dun Cais, Dun Aedha, and Dun Cearban — each with thrice fifty 
men in it, besides women and children, horses, and dogs ; and, as these 
lie west from Ventry, Mr. R, Macalister is most probably right in identi- 
fying them with the three larger ring forts of Fahan.§ These allusions, 
not intended for the learned, but for a company wanting amusement, were 
surely proofs that the fort was a living and familiar institution even in 
later mediaeval times. 

36. Gradual Desertion of the Forts. — Even so early as when the 
Calendar of Oengus was written, some of the forts were deserted and 
ruined. Of course, some imj^ortant forts had been destroyed or deserted 
from early times: — Emania fell in a raid of the three Collas in a.d. 321 ;|| 
Tara before the blight of St. Ruadhau, about a.d. 563 ]% Rathcroghan 
ceased to be a palace in a.d. 645 ; Naas was deserted in a.d. 904, and 
Aileach in a.d. 937; Kincora was destroyed finally in a.d. 1098. But 

*• " Leabhar Breac," in Todd Lecture Series, R.I. A., vol. iii.. No. 830. 

t" Hunting of Sliab Trium," p. 115. 

X " Battle of Moylena," p. 79. 

§ Trans. R.I. A., sxxi., p. 313. 

II Or 331. Tigberuacli gives the date as 322, and the Four Masters 321. 

^ " Anuals of Clonmacnoise " (Ed. Rev. Denis Murphy), p. 87. 

Westropp— r//e Ancient Forts of Ireland. 53 

more plainly than these exceptional eases comes the generalised statement 
of " Oengus"* : " Guilty gentiles are carried off, their raths are not dwelt 
in. ... Eman's burgh has vanished, save that its stones remain. f 
The gentiles' ancient cahers, vphereon great duration was wrought, they 
are waste, without adoration, like Lugaid's house-site." 

At a much later date (a.d. 1317), as we have pointed out, the cahers 
round Ruan, in Clare, were grass-topped; and in Prince Donchad's 
despairing muster, before the battle of Corcomroe, that same year, "even 
every man in a caher's souterrain" was summoned. J 

Peel towers were built in a few ring-forts, such as Cahercloggaun and 
Ballyganner, in Clare ; Cahercullaun and Rahinnane, in Kerry ; Inishere, 
in Aran ; and on the great motes, as Knockgraffan, Dunohill, and Kilfeakle^ 
in Tipperary, in a.d. 1192; Durrow, and more than one mote in Louth! 
The Desmond's Castle, at Adare, in Limerick, was planted in an early earth 
fort in the thirteenth century. § Askeaton Castle, in the same county, 
stands on the island where probably stood the fort of Geohthine, named 
in the Book of Rights,|| Dunamase on the fort, which probably was known 
to Ptolemy as Dunum. While round the headlands of our coast many 
a promontory fort was strengthened by walls and towers— Dun Cearnmna 
to the south and Dunseverick to the north— two out of the three oldest 
fortresses of Ireland, if the Triads are true ; Ferriter's Castle, in Kerry • 
the shattered walls of Dunlecky, in Clare ; and probably the nearly isolated 
Dunluce, in Antrim, are on ancient sites. Even the fortified islet was not 
neglected. King Torlough O'Brien (after a.d. 1287) built a peel tower on 
a small island, with traces of ancient piling, in Inchiquin Lough, in Clare, 
and other lakes in the same county had similar buildings. Castle Hag, 
in Lough Mask, and Doonvinalla promontory fort. Mayo, are virtually 
mortar-built cahers. 

A very full account of an ancient caher, with its great house, kitchen, 

* " Calendar of Oengus" (Ed. Whitley Stokes), p. 18. 

t See infra, section 71. 

t " Wars of Turlougli." 

§ " Memorials of Adare" (Lady Dunraven), plan of the Castle, p. 105. 

II " Book of Rights," p. 89-91 n. 

54 Westropp — The Ancient Forts of Ireland. 

gateway, &c., recalling the monastic caher in the Ti'ipartite Life of St. 
Patrick,* was written down in a partition deed of the O'Davorens of 
Cahermacnaughten, Clare, in the reign of Charles II., 1679 ;t while, in 
the same primitive district of the Barren, the forts of Ballyganner and 
Caheranardurrish were inhabited, at any rate, till 1840, and the caher 
of Balliny, not far away, is inhabited, and likely to continue so even 
in the twentieth century. 

37. The Age of Forts from Other Sources. — It is interesting to 
note that in cases (all unfortunately outside our island) we are able 
to fix at any rate a minimum date for cex'tain forts, and that the 
date fixes their origin to periods comparable with the Irish legendary 
statements. For example, in the far east of Europe finds of the 
early Bronze Age have been found in the forts, under circumstances 
connecting them with the inhabitants of the fortresses, so far back, it 
is stated, as the tenth or twelfth century before our era. In Brittany 
and in Switzerland (and some also suppose in Scotland), there is un- 
mistakeable evidence that Roman occupation of the forts took place in the 
early centuries of the Empire, as, for example, in Castel Coz, and the 
great earthen " Lisses " at Caudebec, Gaulish in origin, one occupied by a 
Roman villa.J The dry-stone ramparts of Vercingetorix, Caractacus, and 
others in Gaul and Britain will occur to readers of Caesar and Tacitus. 
It will also be remembered that these structures were built in the first 
century B.C., and its successor, the very period when, according to Irish 
legends, the Huamorian forts, Caherconree, Rathcroghan and the Treduma 
Nesi at Tara were constructed. If, indeed, the smoother surface of the 
gateway passage of Grianan Aileach owes its better preservation to shelter, 
and not to the selection of smoother blocks by the builders ; it would 

* See infra, section 42. " The Tripartite Life of St. Patrick" (Ed. Whitley Stokes), p. 44, 
uses ' cathair ' for an enclosed monastery, " Thy cathair on earth shall be low," p. 74, " build a 
cathair on its brink " ; but the word is also used for a lay building, p. 112, " That he should take 
a cathair at Achad Fobuir." The Patrician Monastery is described, p. 237 and p. civ. 

t Joirrnal, Roy. Soc. Ant. Ireland, xxvii. (1897) p. 121. 

J See also Revue Archeologique, vol. xvii.. No. 16, for an account of a Roman camp over 
a Gaulish stone fort in the department of Lot. 

Westropp — The Ancient Forts of Ireland. 55 

imply a considerable antiquity for the fort; and as already mentioned, 
the less equivocal weathering of the tops of the pillars at Dun Aenghus 
and Ballykinvarga tells a tale of great age, perhaps slightly modified by 
the undoubted weathering and channelling of the upper surfaces of the 
bases and arms of crosses dating from the tenth to the twelfth centuries. 
The rock-cut fosses at the King's Chair and the Rath of the Synods at 
Tara are deeply covered with earth ; and the late ill-starred search for the 
"Ark of the Covenant" laid them open, and disclosed a probable Pagan 
burial in a rampart of the former mound, in which the bones had been 
taken asunder and packed together with the skull underneath. 

38. Finds. — Flint implements have been found in many forts. Arrow- 
heads, with, however, a brooch considered to be of the fifth or sixth 
century, were found in Dun Aenghus. Arrow-heads were also found in 
Cahermacnole (Cahermackirilla), Clare, Rahinnane, Kerry, and in several 
of the raths near Galway Bay, and in Waterford and Kilkenny. A 
beautiful jjolished stone axe was found beside a fort near Mullingar,* 
and basalt axes, granite spear-heads, and tiint arrows in Dungorkin. 
I found a small chij^ped flint in the so-called Dun Criffan, a promontory 
fort on Howth. 

Gold (as a rule, of the Bronze Age) has been found in several forts. 
For example a gold fibula was found in Rathkenny, near Cootehill ; and 
two splendid torques were found on Tara Hill. 

If we could connect the " great Clare gold find" with the inhabitants 
of the neighbouring cahers of Moghane and Langough, exjierts would 
consider those forts as dating from four or five centuries B.C., but the 
question does not admit of profitable discussion in this essay. A gold 
bracelet was found covered by an earthen vessel in the fort of Lisline, 
near Tramore, Waterford, before 1746. f 

Bronze must be discussed with equal caution, for when Brian Boru 
captured the Danish fort of Dublin, he found " a great quantity of bronze " 
among the other spoils, a.d. 1000. J 

* Laid, before the Academy, March, 1901, by Mr. (j. Kinahan. 

t Smith's " State of the County and City of "Waterford," 17-16, p. 98. 

X "Wars of the Gaedhil and Gaill," p. 115. 


Westropp — The Ancient Forts of Ireland. 

Fio. 8. — Mould for casting Spear-head, Caber, Knockgarranbane. 

Bronze not referable to Christian times has been found in many forts. 
A socketed celt was found, it is stated, in a fort near Lough Derg, in 

eastern Clare. We have 
seen the object, but could 
not ascertain the actual 
locality. A stone mould 
for casting a beautiful 
bronze spear-head, fluted, 
and with two loops, was 
found built into the wall 
of the caher at Knockgar- 
ranbane,* near Clarinbridge, at the head of Galway Bay ; but this, far from 
fixing a date, may only imply a rebuilding after the metal and style of 
weapon had gone out of use. The Dunbell raths yielded bronze and jet 
as well as stone objects,t and the second cashel amid the wonderful cists 
and trilithons of the Deerpark,J near Sligo, yielded a bronze "buckle." 
Bronze implements have been found at Tara.§ Later bronze objects, such 
as the brooch found in Dun Aenghus, the bronze sword label with the runic 
inscription, " Domnal Selshofoth a soerth theta," " Domnall Sealshead 
owns this sword, "|| found in the mote of Greenmount, in Louth, or the 
bronze slip with late mediseval lettering found in tlie Dunbell rath, tell 
us as little about the date as the silver coins of Edward XL, found in 
the abattis of Bally kin varga, or the base Tudor coins found inside 
Cahei-macnole, along with the pointed flint implements. These manifestly 
serve as little for a date as the golden tores found at Tara, or the beautiful 
chalice in the rath of Ardagh, county Limerick. 

Iron has been frequently found in forts ; it is said to have been dug out 
from a considerable depth in the forts of Tara, and to have been found 
in a demolished wall at the triple fort of Cahercalla, near Quin, in Clare. 

* " ArchEeologia," xv. (1805), p. 394, Plate xxiv. 
t Journal E.S.A.I., vol. iii. (1854), pp. 133, 175. 
X Hid., vol. xxi. (1891), p. 581. 
§ Proc. ll.I.A., 8er. iii. (1870-1879), p. 25. 
II Journal ll.b.A.l., vol. xi. (1870-71), p. 487. 

Westropp— 7%e Ancient Forts of Ireland. 57 

Iron axes were also found built up in the walls of Caherspeenaun and 
Caherbiel, near Cong, on the borders of Mayo and Gal way.* We have 
found primitive '< corn crushers," long hollowed stones, at Caherahooan, 
Moheramoylan, and Eallyganner cahers. The pottery found in the 
souterrains and forts, as those of Waterford and Kilkenny, is of the 
rudest description. In short, like the legends, the actual finds fix no 
" fort-building period," but show during how vast a period these structures 
were actually raised in Ireland from " the twilight waste where pale 
Tradition sits by Memory's grave," to the time of Henry III., and in 
continental Europe from the days of the strong men before Agamemnon 
to the days of the Crusaders. 

39. Theories regarding the Fort-Builders. 

The Sons of Huamore. — The Firbolgic origin of the cahers has been im- 
pressed on Irish Archaaology by the great names of Petrie and O'Donovan, 
supported by Loi'd Dunraven and Miss Stokes, popularised by many writers 
and accepted by a large body of antiquaries without any thought 
of the vast impossibility involved in the legend and its hopelessly 
weak foundation. Even if the legend of the sons of Huamore be not a sun 
myth, as Professor Rhys suggests, even if it rested on some earlier and 
better authority than (it should appear) a poem of the tenth century, still, 
the story in that poem is alone enough to undermine the popular belief ; and 
it is surprising that any of the above antiquaries should have been carried 
away by so wild a theory. We are called on to believe that several 
hundred, if not a couple of thousand, stone forts were built by a liandful of 
fugitives who were able to live in nine raths in Meath, and were exter- 
minated or scattered in a year or two after settling in Galway, Mayo and 
Clare. The prose version only names Dun Aenghus ; the poem in addition 
tells how Ennach built a fort in Clare in the neighbourhood of Dael ; and 
one manuscript adds " thus they dwelt in fortresses." On this tiny base tlie 
vast inverted pyramid of theory which attributes the cahers of Kerry and 
Cork to a tribe never even stated to have settled in those counties, and tlio 
innumerable cahers of Clare, Galway, Mayo, Sligo, and other districts, to 
this short-lived little band. After this utter impossibility, the question of 
* 8ir W. Wilde, "Lough Corrib," pjj. 330-338. 


58 Westropp — The Ancient Forts of Ireland. 

the historic value of the legend sinks into unimportance ; and the question 
of the vast labour imjjlied in the building of even a single large caher, or 
the fact that the principal centres of Firbolg legend display earthen, 
rather than stone, forts, may be disregarded. 

The Sea-Rovers. — In a natural reaction against the last overweighted 
theory, some, with more apparent reason, attributed the great stone forts 
to sea-rovers. As with the advocates of the former view, it would almost 
seem as if the authors of the "rover theory" only thought of the forts 
described by Lord Dunraven, and overlooked the many thousand enclo- 
sures in nearly inaccessible valleys, and on plateaux far from the sea. 
Many of our promontoiy forts are on headlands flanked by harbourless 
and precipitous coast for many miles. Why did the "wanderers on the 
whale's path," who were very practical people, devise such useless and 
inconvenient abodes, while they never seem to have built any such great 
fortresses to hold the rich meadows of the Shannon and other rivers most 
suitable for the safety and convenience of their ships, and more profitable 
either for plunder or settlement. 

The Danes. — Giraldus Cambrensis, with countless other errors, origi- 
nated the theory that our raths and lisses had been made by the Danes.* 
This was developed and published by Thomas Molyneux in the eighteenth 
century, and has never died down, nay more, has been spread wide-cast 
amongst the peasantry, and received the sanction of not a few of our later 
writers. We may well ask whether the Norsemen on princij^le adopted a 
style of fortification abundant in lands where the ravens of Odin never 
preyed, and whether the invaders carefully fortified districts in which 
they never settled, or, so far as our records extend, never overran, while 
erecting no .such works in their own country or Iceland. We can only 
recall one really great Irish fort (Moghane) in a Danish district, and it 
is never mentioned as having been used in the deadly guerilla warfare 
of Brien in the woods of Tradree at the end of the tenth century. 

* It lias been a growing custom since, at any rate, 1868 (R.S.A.I., ser. iii., vol. i., p. 22), to 
state that Dane is a mistake of the peasantry for Danann. There is no evidence for this, and the 
peasantry probably derive it from conversation with the followers of Giraldus and Molyneux. 
The Scotch peasants, however, used to attribute the forts to the Danes, as does the elder Borlasc 
in "Antiquities of Cornwall." See M. Martin's " Western Islands of Scotland," 1703, p. 34. 

WEaxEopp — The Ancient Forts of Ireland. 


Other views.— The theories attributing our stone forts to Phcenicians 
or monks are practically dead. The Vallancey school failed to prove its 
case, and modern archjeologj seems to have cast very grave doubts on 
the existence of any regular Carthaginian commerce with Ireland, where 
it certainly left no indisputable trace. The monks certainly built stone 
cashels, but usually of irregular plan and without terraces or steps. A 
very interesting relic of these builders is found at Termonfeckin in 
Louth— an inscribed stone with the inscription : Opoir Do Ulcan -j Do 
Dubrhach Do pigni in caippel, " Pray for Ultan and Dubthach who made 
this stone fort."* 

Fio. 9.— Fort Builder's Monument, Termonfeckin, Louth. 

It was more usual, however, for the monks to build their " cathair " or 
" conghabhaile " in some existing fort which some newly converted chief- 
tain gave to God and the Church. Skellig, Caher Island, and Magharees, 
Grlendalough, and Sier Kieran are good examples of the former class of 
works. Cashel in Cork, Temple na raha near Ruan, Clare (where the foun- 
dations of a venerable oratory lie within a ring-wall of massive blocks), 
the Rock of Cashel, Innismurray, and, possibly, Rathmichael in Dublin, 
were secular forts before they were granted to the monks. 

IV. UsK OF THK Forts. 

40. The most widespread views regard the forts as fortifications or as 
cattle bawns, and each contains a certain element of truth. The idea that 
they were j^laces of burial, though apparent both in our literature and the 

* " Christian Inscriptions in the Irish Language " (Miss M. Stokes), vol. ii., p. 70. 


60 Westropp — The Ancient Forts of Ireland. 

ruins has been less advanced. Popular legend of our own time supports, 
in some cases, Spenser's statement* that some of the forts were places of 
assembly. Other legends, found at Moghane and in Germany (also in 
*' Marmion"), consider the forts as places for tournaments and combats, 
and this view has been elaborated by Vallancey in his account of Staigue 
fort. One writer fancies that the latter may have been a Phoenician 
emjDorium connected with certain traces of ancient mines, while others 
fancied it a temple or observatory. We only deal here with the first 
three and the temple and assembly theories. 

41. Fortresses. — The first two theories, like most half truths, obscure 
some points and raise some unnecessary difficulties. In the first place, 
the modern (or mediaeval) notion of a "fortress" is so complex and so 
different from a Celtic fort that it is better to dismiss the idea from 
our minds, and to think of the cahers and raths as moated or walled 
residences such as were common at all times in insecure states of society. 
In their inclosures stood, as a rule, groups of small houses : in other cases 
the whole space or summit must have been occupied by a single large 
house. The strong wall or palisaded earthwork was merely a passive 
defence for these houses, and was only raised against a sudden attack, 
not against undermining, battering, or other siege work. In short, the 
house or group of houses forms the essential feature of a Celtic fort ; the 
rampart or earthwork was merely an accessory. Even in Algeria many 
a supposed prehistoric trilithon was more probably the gateway of a de- 
molished dry-stone " cashel" which defended a farmhouse early in our era. 

In view of this design, the reasons often urged as to the impossibility 
of certain apparent facts, such as the building of the wall in two or three 
sections, and the excluded water supply, lose all weight. Tlie picture of 
the Ventry fortsf crowded with people and animals, and taken by storm 
and bm-ned, is probably true to fact. The dependents lived round the fort, 
and would have naturally crowded into it on any alarm. We find in Kerry 
and Aran, where timber was scarce, both single huts and groups in the fields 

* " View of the State of Ireland." This is borne out by the Annals of Ulster, a.d. 803 : " An 
Assembly of the senators of the TJi Neill in Dun Cuair." 
t " Cath Finntraga" (Ed. Kuno Meyer), pp. 5, 6. 

Webtrofp— The Ancient Forts of Ireland. 61 

round the forts or in their garths. In Clare, on the other hand, where wood 
was plentiful, even in Burren, few huts or traces other than the boundary 
walls of the enclosures, and more rarely slab basements,* remain in or near 
the cahers. The Anglo-Saxon 'town,' with its hall and huts crowded 
together in the midst of the cultivated land, affords a close analoo-v. 
but mstead of a single fort, as in England, a group of so many as ten or 
twelve fair-sized forts might remain within call of each other in Ireland. 

In the legend of the three forts near Ventry, each of these settlements 
fell by itself. There was no attempt made to join forces against the 
invaders. This lack of organisation was probably common, and was 
possibly based on the rarity of successful attack, as the examples of the 
storming of forts are comparatively few in Irish literature. It is easy to 
see how, in an undisciplined raid (indeed we have noted it recently even 
in modern warfare), raiders were more anxious to sweep away cattle and 
plunder from the open country and unfenced villages than to assail (still 
less besiege) even slightly fortified places. Save that the " glory" to be 
gained by sacking the residence of a king or chief led to an assault 
and the destruction of his house, our annals would be nearly devoid of 
such incidents. As it is, the very same assailants seem to have swept 
past dozens of other forts without attacking them. 

One more fact of interest needs to be recorded. The caher of Balliny, 
near Black Head, Clare, has been inhabited from beyond human memory 
down into the twentieth century. We see it with its houses and enclosures 
both inside and surrounding the ring-wall. Looking on the simple life 
of its inmates, we are compelled to feel how much nearer it is to the life of 
even a pre-Christian settlement than it is to the life of its contemporaries 
in the great cities far away. 

42. The Ecclesiastical Cathair was (save for its churches and crosses) 
nearly identical in its arrangements with the dun of a secular chieftain. 

* Professor Sullivan's Introduction to O'CuiTy's " Manners and Customs" makes the start- 
lingly incorrect statements (p. 74) that no clocliauns remain round the forts of Aran, and that there 
was no bmlding material in Daelach, in Clai'e, except stones. The fact was that thick woods 
existed down to the eighteenth century, and trees still grow freely, as even the maps clearly show. 

62 Westropp — The Ancient Forts of Ireland. 

Indeed, in the first generations of Christianity in Ireland, we read of circular 
churches* with crosses, or a holy word "Jesus," or " Soter,"t rudely engraved 
on the pillar-stones which often accompanied a lay fort ; and such features 
must have greatly added to the similarity. When a chief gave his fort to an 
early missionary, the latter probably did nothing to alter the structure of 
the establishment. The monastery was organised on tribal lines ; the great 
hall became a church ; religious observance took the place of festivity ; the 
huts of the retainers outside the fort were filled with catechumens, but, in 
other respects, the rude and simple life of the community probably differed 
little from that of their predecessors. 

In the "Tripartite Life of St. Patrick "J we find a description of a 
monastic cathair presumably as existing in the latter half of the fifth 
century: it consisted of a great house, a church, an "aregal," a kitchen, 
a "prauntech" (refectory), a guest-house, and a graveyard; the whole 
was enclosed by a " vallum." The saint on one occasion laid out a 
rath 140 feet in diameter, and, a little later, St. Enda, brother of 
St. Fainchea "made deep fosses round her monastery."§ 

To show how unaltered was this t3'pe over twelve centuries later, we 
may take the enumeration of the buildings in Cahermacnaughteu, Clare, 
as described in the will and deed of partition made by Gillananaeve 
O'Davoren in 1675.|| The structure still remains, a very massive, and pro- 
bably prehistoric ring-wall, some of whose crowded house-sites can still be 
sufficiently identified to enable us to follow the description. The " kean- 
nait" contained "the site of the large house of the caher within, the site 
of the kitchen house, which belongs to the house within the caher, and 
the site of the house of the churchyard on the west side of the caher, and all 
the gardens extending westward from the road of the garden of Teige Roe 
MacGrillapheen (not including Teige Roe's house and garden), the house site 
between the front of the large house and the door of the caher at the N.-W. 
{sic), and the large house which is outside the door of the caher." Save for 
the lack of a church, and one existed west of the caher at no great distance, 

* Doubtless closely resembling in external appearance certain Abyssinian cburclies. 

t " Tripartite Life of St. Patrick" (Ed. Whitley Stokes), p. 107. 

\ Hid., p. 237. § Acta SS., Jan. 1. || Journal U.S. A.I. , toI. xxyii. (1897), p. 121. 

Westeopp — The Ancient Forts of Ireland. 63 

this might read for the description of a monastic caher in the days of 
Hengist, rather than a law scliool in the days of Newton and Milton. 
The similarity of Skellig Monastery to the secular cahers and huts at 
Fahan is very marked ; the huts may be reckoned a little better, but not 
more so than Grallerus oratory is to the ruder oratory on the great sea-rock. 

43. Cattle Pens. — This theory only errs in being too sweeping. Doubt- 
less many of the slighter ring- walls and straight walled " mohers" were 
for cattle ; but who would think of building a fort like the Grianan or Dun 
Aenghus, Moghane or Staigue, Ballykinvarga or Dunbeg, for such a purpose? 

The bawn, or boen, was usually distinguished from the residential fort 
by being of less imposing massiveness and having no terraces or steps ; 
little more was attempted than to establish a place for cattle, lofty enough 
to exclude the wolf and strong enough to be an obstacle to the robber. It 
was, however, not unusual to keep the cattle in the residential fort ; we 
find this in legend, as in the case of the cattle of luchna the curly-haired,* 
and in that story, so often quoted, of the three forts of Veutry. What is 
stronger evidence is that the ancient laws of Ireland made provision for 
seizing cattle kept in forts, and even for keeping them impounded therein 
on dark nights. t That this extended to later times we have seen in the 
fort-names Caheruagree, Lisnagry, &c., and perhaps even in the "pounds" 
of Dartmoor and the local name for Staigue fort " Pounda-na-Staigue." 

44. Sepulchral. — As regards sepulture in forts, we find abundant 
examples both in early Irish literature and in the ruins themselves. 

Of course, in this place, as always through this paper, the extracts are 
quoted to illustrate customs or the structural features of the forts without 
any question as to the historic truth of the relation. In the legend of the 
battle of Moytura-Cong we hear how Slainge pursued the sons of Caelchu 
and their followers, when they fled from the left wing of the Tuatha De 
Danann and slew them near the margin of Lough Corrib, setting up 

* " Silva Gadelica" (S. H. O'Grady), vol. ii., p. 131. 

f " Senchas Mor," vol. i., p. 131, for joint labour on forts ; p. 137, for provisioning forts ; 
vol. ii., p. 61, cattle can be kept in forts on dark nights. 


Westropp — The Ancient Forts of Ireland. 

seventeen flagstones over their graves. These slabs Sir W. Wilde identifies 
with thirteen slabs still standing in an oval fort on the shore of that lake.* 
The "Colloquy of the Ancients" mentions "a fort, within this again a 
colossal sepulchre."t The Lady T^a, wife of Erimon, was buried in the fort 
of Tara in imitation of another princess, Tephe, daughter of Bachter, King 
of Spain, buried in the " mur" of Tephe, in Spain. J In the same work 
we find the cashel of Aengus, son of Cruindmael, among the burial-places 
of the Brugh na Boinn. Crimthann, son of Lugaid, dying of his fatal love 
for the Banshee Nar, was buried in his fort on Howth,§ while the bones of 
some 10,000 slain soldiers of Cairbre Liffechair were buried in the rath of 

FiQ. 10.— "Tomb o£ Dathi," Eathcroghan. 

Cnamross.|| In more historic times we find King Dathi's tomb at Rath- 
croghan to be a small fort with a fosse and pillar stone, and King Laoghaire, 
son of Niall of the Nine Hostages, was buried upright in the rampart of his 
rath, armed, and with his face turned towards the land of his enemies, in 
enmity unappeased by death. It is remarkable that an interment was 
found in the rampart of a rath, the King's Chair, at the same place. 

* Since the date of this paper Mi-. P. Lynch showed me a phm and views of a most inter- 
esting monument in Kerry, an are of a small ring wall mth a " chord" of pillai- stones, probably 
sepulchral. It is intended to publish it in the Jom-nal E. S.A.I. 

t " Silva Gadelica," ii., p. 131. 

\ "Dindsenchas of Tara," Revue C'eltique (1894), p. 277 ; the more usual version was that 
Tephe was buried at Tai'a, and gave if the name of " Tephe Mm-." 

§ Ibid., p. 332. II Ibid., p. 333. 

Westropp— I%e Ancient Forfs of Ireland. 65 

The remains themselves tell the same story. The ancient cemeteries 
at Usnach and Rathcroghan are scarcely distinguishable from ordinary 
ring-forts, and may have been first designed for residence. We see a 
dolmen in the middle of the vast earthwork of the " Giant's Ring" in 
Down, and others in the ring-walls 
of Ballj'ganner and Creevagh in 
Clare, and a rath near Kilpeacon, 
Limerick ; while the " Doon fort," 
on a bold headland south of Dingle 
in Kerry, encloses a " giant's 
grave." A double cist remains in 
the levelled fort of Kilcameen, 
near Kilfenora, Clare. Molyneux* 
mentions and figures an urn found 
in a cist in a "Danish" fort at 
Stillorgan, Dublin, in June, 1716. 
Rude pottery and numerous human 
bones were also found in a cist 
in the great rath of Rathcoran, 






%. ^^ ^^^"^ 

Fig. U.— Cemetery of Eatheroghan. 

Wicklow, on a lofty hill above 

Baltinglas. These facts did not 

escape the well-stored mind of Sir Samuel Ferguson, who, in one of lils 

best known poems, uses it with fine effect : — 

" No more — dispelling battle's gloom — 
Shall son to mo from war return, 
The great green rath's ten-acred tomb 
Lies heavy on his uni."f 

Pillar-stones in raths are not uncommon in Munster, and occur in a 
stone fort at Edentinny, Leitrim.J Ogham-inscribed stones have been found 

* " Danish Mounts," p. 201. 

f " The Cromlech on Howth." Urns are frequently found in earth forts. 
X O'Hanlon, " Lives of the Irish Saints," vol. iii., p. 581. We have noted an example iu 
Yorkshire, supra, section 30. 


66 , Westropp — The Ancient Forts of Ireland. 

in forts, as at Doonmore, Kerry, and Lisheenagreine, Cork.* Cairns 
occur inside ring-walls at Ballyganner (near the enwalled dolmen), and 
a small one in Caheranardurrish fort in Glensleade, Clare, was recently 
demolished, and disclosed a small cist of at least three compartments, 
the finds being thus in complete agreement with the allusions in our 
oldest legends and history. 

Burial in one's fort or house was an ancient and widespread custom ; 
the ancient princes of Mycense and Iberia were laid in state within their 
palaces. Even among the Israelites, who dreaded defilement from the 
dead, Joab was buried " in his own house in the wilderness." We have 
noted cairns and burial mounds enclosed in the ancient forts of Ograch 
and ]\Ialagradina in Bosnia ;t while tlie stone fort of Ismanstorpsborgen 
in Sweden is crowded with ancient burials, J 

This tradition has probably led to the usage of numerous earthen and 
stone forts for burial in Ireland, sometimes for general burial, sometimes 
only for the bui'ial of children or for unbaptized infants. 

Finally, in the case of the motes, several have yielded evidence of burials, 
even the complex mote of Greenmount in Louth. Waringstown " Dane's 
Mound" in Down, when opened in 1684, yielded a handsome urn covering 
burned bones and charcoal in a beehive cell with a passage 10 feet long.§ 
In these cases the unaccountable neglect with which these very interesting 
antiquities have been treated prevents our generalizing ; and we leave for 
fuller light the question whether the defensive mound was eventually used 
for burial or the sepulchral mount adapted for defence. 

45. "Worship. — This is a problem too important to be passed over, 
and too obscure to be treated with more than the slightest allusion. 
We liave seen the weighty name of Virchow attached to the theory 
that the fort with an annexe was an ancient temple, and the resem- 
blance of tlie shrine of Suantowit at Rugen to one of tlic promontory 

* Trans. E.I.A., vol. xxxi., p. 279, and E.S.A.I., ser. iii., vol. i. (1868), p. 260. 
t "Bosnia-Herzegovina," Dr. E. Munro, pp. 197, 203. 
X "Dolmens of Ireland" (W. Borlase), vol. iii., p. 1133, and supra, fig. 4. 
§ " Ajicient and present state of the county of Down, 1744," p. 212. 

Westropp — The Ancient Forts of Ireland. 67 

forts has been pointed out, while Cormac Mac Airt is said to have been 
worshijDped at Tara. The remains throw little, if any, light on the subject. 
The mote of Skirk in the townland of Newtown Skirk, Queen's County 
(0. S., map 21), has a circle of upright stones, which Sir Charles Coote* 
says enclosed an altar, and, like a defensive mote, had a conical mound 
of earth and stone, circumscribed by a rampart or ditch. Human bones 
and urns were found "when the altar or mound is opened." Coote goes 
on to quote Vallancey's unfounded assertion that sucli places "were called 
Magh Adhair, the sanctuary of the wise divinity of the tombs, and were 
dedicated to Magh or Sodorn and the manes of heroes." It is probable 
that if any rites were celebrated, they were rather sepulchral than directed 
to the national deities. 

46. Ceremonial. — Many forts became centres for aenaghs, great fairs 
and merrymakings of possibly religious origin. We need only name the 
Feis of Tara, and the aenaghs of Tailtinn and Carman ; while such names 
as Caherwarraga, Ballykinvarga, and Eanty, attaching to forts, attest the 
existence of similar gatherings. The aenagh of Magh Adhair in Clare was 
older than the invasion of Thomond by King Flan Sunach in a.d. 877,t 
and lasted as a local gathering down to the Great Famine. It is still 
remembered by the older people in that part of Clare as taking place 
round the mote. Races were held down to the nineteenth century at a 
barrow and fort, near Mallow, but were then transferred to Bally clough. 
The barrow on being opened was found to contain a fine cist, with a 
skeleton and bronze sword. J Indeed it is not impossible that the great 
present-day fair of Cahirmee may have owed its remote origin to some 
aenagh held at the ancient caher of that name. 

The forts occasionally enclosed objects of popular veneration (if not 
formerly of worship), Magh Adhair, Clare, possessed a "Bill" or ancient 
tree, connected with the inauguration of the Dalcassian chiefs. Roevehagh 
in Co. Galway takes its name from a famous "Red birch tree" (Ruaidh 

* " Statistical Survey of Queen's County," p. 92. 
t "Book of Munster," O'Eeilly, MSS., R.I.A., vol. iii., pp. 39-42. 

I " The Early Age of Greece," Professor Kidgeway quoting letter from late Kev. T. Oklcn. 
For games at Caherachladdy, Cork, see Journal R.R.A.I., vol. ii. (1852), p. 231. 


68 Westkopp — The Ancieni Forts of Ireland. 

Bheitheacli). The Clare tree was maliciously cut down by the Ard Righ 
Malachi in 982, and its very roots dug up. Its successor met the same 
fate from the troops of Aed O'Conor, King of Connaught, in 1051. The 
Roevehagh tree was cut down and its stone fort demolished by Turlough 
O'Brien, King of Thomond, in 1143, vendettas being long-lived at that 

The fort of Tullaghog contained the inauguration stone of O'Neill, 
and the cliff fort of Dunadd in Argyllshire, with the basin stone and 
rock-cut footprint thereat, was used for the inauguration of the Dalriadic 
kings,* while other Irish forts (as Naas and Cairnfree) served a like 
purpose. The oblong fort at Edentinny, in Leitrim, has two lai'ge pillar- 
stones (one standing and one prostrate), the former 12 feet high, and 
has been supposed to have been a place of pillar-worship.f 

V. — Structural Features in the Forts. 

We now turn to the important subject of the structural features of the 
early forts. Leaving to Irish scholars the task of collecting the ancient 
nomenclatui'e, a task which they have up to this neglected to perform, 
we may be permitted to turn to the buildings themselves, with no further 
preamble, using (as all thi'ough this paper) the facts we have collected 
from ancient Irish writings only so far as the}^ seem to elucidate any 
features of the ancient buildings. J 

As might be expected, the earthen forts, although by far the more 
abundant, fall into the background in this section. Nearly all the 
"featm-es," apart from the mere plans, being confined to the stone forts, 

* Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, (1878-9), p. 28, paper by Capt. F. Thomas, E.N. 

t Canon O'Hanlon, "Lives of tlie Irish Saints," vol. iii., p. 581. It is not marked in the 
townland on the Ordnance Sm-rey map of 6-inches to the mile. 

\ Very few have been collected. We find in the " Mesca Ulad," Todd Lcct. Series, E.I. A., 
p. 47, and Professor Sullivan's Introduction to O'Cui-i-y's "Manners and Customs of the Ancient 
Irish," p. 107, a few of the old names for various portions of the forts. As " tulchin," the flat 
top of a rath or mote : " iarom," the garth or enclosure ; " mur," the rampart ; " fordorus," the 
gate in the outer wall; "auiiand," the slope before that gateway. We hope for more light on 
this interesting and important study fiom some of the many earnest students of Irish. 

Westropp — The Ancient Forts of Ireland. 69 

and being on that account taken in a vast preponderance from the 
counties in which lie the best preserved cahers, i.e. in Donegal, Cavan, 
Sligo, Mayo, Galway, Clare, Kerry, and Cork. 

47. Ramparts. — In stud3^ing the structural anatomy of the walls, we 
not unfrequently meet the curious method of construction in which the 
face of the masonry exhibits continuous upright joints. These were at 
one time supposed (from the two joints occurring close to each other in 
Staigue fort) to have marked an opening left for the convenience of the 
builders, and afterwards closed ; but numerous other forts, notably, those 
in Aran and Clare, exhibit many joints at approximately regular intervals 
and 25i"eclude the older idea. It is more than probable that each section 
marks the work of a different gang. This system was adopted by 
Nehemiah when repairing the walls of Jerusalem, and very possibly was 
not unknown in other times and countries. 

In at least one interesting example, the fort of Caherdooneerish on 
Black Head, overlooking Galway Bay, we see marks of three periods, the 
joints running for perhaps 6 feet from the ground ; other joints running 
at other places from 5 or 6 feet above the ground to 10 or 12 feet; and still 
other joints confined to the topmost part of the wall ; other divergencies in 
the masonry being also apparent, which evidently mark at least two 
successive rebuildings. 

The legends in the Dinsenchas tell us that the stones were drawn by 
horses or collected by the inmates of the fort, who took pillar-stones, both 
standing and prostrate ; the blocks were " chipped " to make them fit better 
in the wall,* and (if the translation given by Petrie, in his account of 
Grianan Aileach, be correct) were put up with the aid of scaffolds. f With 
regard to the latter question, however, the occurrence of smaller stonework 
in certain forts, from a height of 6 or 7 feet above the ground, seems 
rather to imply that the stones were sometimes lifted by mere strength 

* " Dindsenchas" {Revue Celttque, 1894) pp. 41, 42, 448. " Ordnance Survey of the County 
of Londonderry" (1837) vol.i., p. 226. 

f O'Curry renders the line " proceeded to set them (the blocks) rouiid the house," " Manners 
and Customs," vol. ii., p. 9. 


Westropp — The Ancient Forts of Ireland. 

up to the builders, who stood upon the wall, and by the aid of the terraces 
and steps, frequently occurring in the forts, such work could have been 
easilj^ carried out without scaffolds.* 

Signs of ancient rebuilding are not lacking. Sometimes a patch of the 
wall is of a poor and hurried character, the stones set on the slope and not 
fitting against the other blocks. A good example of this in the outer ram- 
part of Cahercommaun has been illustrated.f Another very interesting 
example of rebuilding occui's in the caher of Langough in Clare. The 
central caher appears to have belonged to the original design and to have 
had a large annexe, j^ear-shaped in plan, covering the top of the rocky 
knoll on whose precijiitous flank the ring-fort stands. Two long walls, 

1 which, after running nearly 
parallel to each other for 400 
feet, turn inward and probably 
formed a loop, extend into the 
adjoining townland of Rath- 
foland. In the rebuilding, 
these long walls and the pear- 
shaped annexe were levelled, 
though the large foundation 
blocks remain, and in their 
stead was made a strong, but 
smaller annexe, crossing and 
covering the foundations of 
the older walls. Curiously enough, the radiating walls of the stone 
forts of Ballykinvarga and Cahershaughnessy seem to pass through the 
central ring-walls, but closer examination shows that their lines are alone 
continuous, and that they abut against the faces of the ring-wall instead of 
being covered by it as at Langough. 

Tlie rampart, besides being built in longitudinal sections, was sometimes 
formed of a series of thinner layers, one behind the other, and each complete 

* For this reason we greatly question the probability of the theory that the builders of the 
Cashel of Skellig stood on the stones projecting from the outer face of the wall over the steep 
descent to the sea. f Journal R.S.A.I., vol. xxvi. (1896) p. 165, 

Westropp — The Ancient Forts of Ireland. 71 

in itself. This has been recently denied ; but no one who saw the ramparts 
of Dun Aenghus before its "destructive re-edification," or the caher of 
Feenagli, in Burren, or (as we had the "sad good fortune" to see) the 
demolition of the upper caher of Ballyallaban, could have any doubt as to 
the fact. To argue that " it would weaken the wall against hostile attack " 
is beside the question ; for escalade and capture, not the overthrow of the 
wall, was the besetting peril of the older fort-builders. 

In Dun Aenghus, Feenagh, Caherbullog, and probably Ball^'kinvarga, 
we have seen the well-built face of the inner wall exposed by the fall of 
the outer portion ; while at Ballyallaban, the two sections were separate 
down to the crag on which the fort stood. This was not, however, the 
usual method, which was effected by building two faces of large blocks, 
4 to 12 feet apart, the outer face set to a slight batter, and filling the 
interspace with a packed mass of smaller stones ; these eventually settling 
down distorted the even batter into a curve, simple or slightly S-shaped, 
and eventually, in certain cases, burst out the facing altogether ; it also led 
to distortion and settlement in the upright joints,* and to the sloping 
inward of the top stones, and thereby the retention of wet in the walls. 
Altogether, it is a far inferior method than where the wall was built in 
layers where such destructive settlement is less apparent. It is very pro- 
bable that later facings of wall were added in some forts — the cases of 
Caherbullog, Caherscrebeen, and Dunbeg, near Fahan, are evidently cases 
in point. In the first two it j^receded the demolition of the inner and older 
ring-wall to the level of the garth, in order to widen the area ; in the last 
it was evidently intended to contract the outer opening of the gateway and 
to strengthen the face ; and, from the curious fact that it was a little lower 
than the inner wall, it was probably never completed. Dun Aenghus, 
early in the last century, possessed the unusual feature of a sunken way 
between the outer and inner faces of the upper part of the central wall. 

The usual method of construction was evidently as follows : — The 
laying out of a roughly circular area, marked with foundation blocks. 
Such a marked- out semicircle may still be seen near Cahernaspekee, near 

*• This is well seen in Lord Dimraven's large views of Staigue and Dun Conor, and the 
views of Caherdooneerish in Jom-nal of R.S.A.I., xxxi., p. 4. 

72 Westropp — The Ancient Forts of Ireland. 

Ballyganner. Then, if no plinth was made, the foundation blocks were 
set and the facings continued upwards. The outer face was usually built 
to a straight batter with great neatness and skill and the filling laid or 
thrown in as the face layers were raised. In some cases other thicknesses 
of the wall were subsequently added, and where there was a terrace its 
steps wei'e possibly utilised to bring stones to the builders working on the 
summit. In some cases various gangs worked on certain sections of the 
wall, which were not bonded, but only abutted against the contiguous 
sections leaving long upright joints. 

48. Masonry. — The masonry varies with the rocks of the district. In 
cases where boulders abound, the stonework is rude, and the crannies 
packed with smaller stones ; in shale districts, the facing is regular, but 
small, and has rarely escaped collapse, while in limestone districts the 
masonry is often coursed or polygonal, often as regular as ashlar, and 
sometimes showing traces of hammer-work. In Kerry we see igneous 
rocks, which break into " diamond-shaped" fragments, used with excellent 
effect to form a reticulated pattern. The regularity of the limestone 
blocks sometimes led the builders into neglecting to " break joint"; and 
as a result we see at Cahercloggaun, near Lisdoonvarna, closely occurring 
upright joints a few feet apart.* 

Another kind of masonry, though somewhat rarer than the more or less 
oblong blocks, is the " cyclopean." To it such undue importance has been 
attached, that it has come to be regarded as the common type of masonry 
in our ancient cahers. Vallancey and Betham affected Petrie and his 
school to an extent which the latter would have indignantly repudiated. It 
became a fashion to treat of the Irish forts as though they were as massive 
as those of Greece or Etruria ; and though there are, as we have seen, 
striking points of resemblance between the fortifications of early Grreece 
and Ireland, this fact was overstated. Styles of masonry, as apparent in 
Mashonaland and Peru as in Greece, were made the basis of clear-cut 
theories where clearness is not possible, and the largest and most excep- 
tional blocks were taken as a standard of comparison in size with the 

* Journal R.S.A.L, vol. xxxi. (1901), p. 12, illustrated. 

Westropp — The Ancient Forts of Ireland. 73 

average masonry of southern Europe, till readers were imjiressed with 
the belief that Dun Aenghus was as "well walled" as Tiryns itself. 
This exaggeration went further and further, till (carried away by the 
" Cyclopean " masonry and features of some early churches, which no 
architect outside Ireland would now date before the eighth century) the 
theoretic pre-Christian origin of our churches and carved higli-crosses was 
evolved and published to the great detriment of our reputation for sober 
study in archaeology. 

In fact, we have seen clever modern "cyclopean" masonry built, and 
have admired the great skill and judgment of the workmen in fitting 
blocks into others already laid, or adapting them by a few strokes of the 
hammer; however, none of this "cyclopean" masonry fails to date itself, 
whereas the modern building with rude blocks is deceptively like the 
early stonework, and requires caution to detect it. 

The forts in Clare occasionally show hammer-work ; but all these 
examj)les lie along the southern border of the Burren. The "chipping" 
of the stones of Grianan Aileach, mentioned in the Dindsenchas, is also 
borne out by the ruin.* 

In a few (possibly) later forts the lower face of the wall or terrace is 
" veneered" with large slabs set on edge; as, for example, at Poulacarran, 
Cahernaspekee, and the square "moher" near Cashlaun Gar. 

The blocks are variously laid, but nearly always with much skill ; 
sometimes the length appears in the face (stretchers) ; at others, the 
stronger plan is adopted of laying the blocks across the wall, the ends 
appearing in the face (headers). The inner facing is usually smaller than 
the outer. 

The batter varies from 1 in 12, to as much as 1 in 5 ; and the wall 
has a cornice of larger slabs at Staigue and at Dunbeg, where it still 
remains. A plinth or projecting base course is found at Ballyallaban 
and Kilcashel, resembling those in early churches and tlie round towers. 
A higher plinth, scarcely a foot wide, rises about 3 or 4 feet from the 
ground, round the inner face of Cahercuttine fort near Noughaval, and in 
a stone fort in Morbihan, France. Steps or very small terraces run for a 

* Brash, "Ancient Architecture uf Irdund," p. 4. 


74 Wkstropp — The Ancient Forts of Ireland. 

considerable distance along the inner face of the wall at Dunbeg, and 
on a larger scale, at Caherconree. Curious arrangements of blocks with 
radiating joints occur in the outer faces of Cahercommaun and Caher- 
screbeen, near Lemaneagh Castle, Clare : it is doubtful whether these were 
accidental or ornamental. As for the thickness and height of the walls 
the}' are very variant even in the one fort. A few examples from various 
counties are here given in feet, the height being given last. 

Donegal : Grianau Aileaeh, 12 to 15 by 6 ; Loughadoon, 14 by lOA. <S7/^o : Cashelore, 10 by 10 
Deerpark Cashel, 8 thick; Carrowmore, 10 thick; InnismuiTay, 7 to 15 by 13. Caran: Money- 
gashel, 10 by 8. Mayo : Doonamoe, 8 by 18 ; Kilcashel 13 to 12 by 9. Galwaij : Caheradi-ineen, 
7 by 7; Cahcr Aiclne, 6 by 10; Dun Aenghus, 12= by 18; Dim Conor, 18^ by 20; 
Dun Onaght, 16 by 16; Dun Oghil, 11 by 16; Dubh Cathair, 16 to 18 by 30; Dun 
Moher, 11 by 15; Caheimugachane, 14 by 11; Cahereugeola, 18 to 13 by 13. Clare: 
Caherdooneerish, 13 by 13^; Cahercloggaun, 9 by 15; Caherbullog, 11 by 7; Caher- 
macnaughten, 10 by 10; Lismacsbecdy, 19 by 9 ; Feenagh, 13A by 14^; Ballyallaban, 10 
by 9 ; Caheranardurrish, 8 by 8 ; Cahcrconnell, 12 by 14; Cahermacnole, 1 5 by 8 ; Cahergrillaun 

10 to 15 ; Ballykinvarga, 14 to 19Jby 15; Cahenninane, 8 by 9 ; Cahercuttinc, ll^to 12^ by 10 
Cahercommaun, 20 to 22 by 14; Cashlaun Gar, 10 to ll|by 13^; Caherscrebcen, 12 to 17 
by 7; liallyganner, 12 by 8; Roughan, 10 by 7; Glenquin, 10 by lU; Mullach, 9 by 9 ; Cahcr- 
shaughnessy, 12 by 18; Cahercalla, 17 by 8; Creevagh, 8 by 8 ; Moghane, 13 to 17 (and 
perhaps 21) thick. Kerry: Caherconor, 8J by 7 ; CahcrcuUaun, 9 by 12; Dunbeg, 22 by 8 ; 
Caherconree, 14 to 17; Staigue, 13 by 18; Cahergel, 19^ to 12 by 14; Caherdorgan, 9 by 9 ; 
Ballynavenooragh, 11 by 8 ; Cahercrovdearg, lOJ^ by 12. Corlt: Cashel Knockanimid, 10 to 

11 by 6 ; Cahermoygliar, 12 by 8. 

The thickness of the walls thus varies from 4 to 22 feet, and the height 
extends to at least 20 feet. The earth works in the motes rise to over 
50 feet, but do not admit of very accurate treatment ; they were originally 
palisaded or planted with thorn bushes. We have noted an eleventh- 
century representation of a palisaded mote on the Ba3'eux tapestry in the 
attack of Duke William's soldiers on Dinan.* In about 1788 we find an 
Irish rath still used for defence. " The garrison, as it was called, was a 
Danish fort in form circular, and planted with fir trees that made the place 
so dark as not to be able to see into it. The banks round about it were 
about 18 feet high, with a stake hedge at top, and a deep fosse around this 
in an open field on a rising ground." Sir John Carden (writer of the 

*■ others arc shown at Dul, Konncs and (perhaps) Bayeux. 

Fig. 13.— details OF IRISH FORTS 


Westeopp — The Ancient Forts of Ireland. 

letter, and the sheriff, we think, of Tipperary) agreed that this fort could 
not be taken without artillery.* 

49. Terraces and Steps. — Some forts have been alleged to have re- 
tained as many as four terraces. We have never observed more than three. 
SUgo, 3Iayo, Cauan, and Donegal. — The forts are so much defaced as 
a rule that nearly every trace of the terraces seem to have disaj^peared. 
Only one ancient terrace, 2^ feet wide, remains at Grianan Aileach ; it is 

probable that others existed, 
though there is, of course, 
no actual warrant for the ex- 
tensive modern rebuilding. 
To the right of the entrance 
is a wedge-like flight of steps 
widening upwards and other 
double flights (V-arrangement) 
were found under the debris. 
Inismurray Cashel had till 
1880 wedge-like (V) an-ange- 
inent of steps up the wall, but 
unfortunately the unguided 
restorers built the recesses 
into fanciful niches, each con- 
taining an inscribed slab. The steps at Moneygashel caher, Cavan, rise 
in a V arrangement like the last; it has two flights of steps. 

Clare and Galwaij. — The straight form predominated, the steps being 
very narrow. In Cahercuttine, near Noughaval, they are from 3 to 
5 inches deep; and at Caherahoagh they form an actual ladder hardly 
projecting be^^ond each otlier, but having spaces under each block for 
foot-holds. Cahermoyle, in Dangan, near Ballyvaughan, has a recess in 
its terrace,t with only one step like a rung across it. A flight turns 

*■■ " Appendix to 31st Eeport of the Deputy Keeper of the Records," p. 96. I have to thank 
Mr. James Mills for pointing out this letter to me before it was published, 
f The terrace is paved with large slabs. 


Fig. 14. — Steps at Moneygashpl, Pavon. 

Westropp — The Ancient Forts of Ireland. 77 

to the right from the terrace at Cahergrillaun to the top of the wall. 
Caherahoagh has two sloped flights rising in opposite directions. The 
best remaining examples of steps in that county are at Caherfeenagh, 
Caherahoagh ("ladder steps"), Cahercuttine, and Cahergrillaun, but there 
are remains at Caherminane, Cahercommaun, Ballyallaban, &c. Dun 
Onacht in Aran, Mullach and Cahercommaun, in Clare, have recesses 
probably for ladders in the terrace walls ; there is a trace of a long 
slojjing ascent at Caherdooneerish. 

The Aran forts have been so much restored, and that without proper 
record of the remains on which that restoration was based, that it is not 
safe to rely on them in their present condition. There were, however, 
in 1878, when we first examined them, both straiglit and sloped flights 
of steps in Dun Aenghus, and straiglit flights in Dun Oghil, Dun Conor, 
and Dun Moher. Dun Oghil then possessed three flights to the S.W., 
S., and N.E., seven steps in the first, 4 feet wide, and leading up to the 
terrace, and a continuation to the top ; the steps 13 inches high, and 
6 inches to 8 inches deep. The south flight had only three stones 
16 inches high and 7 inches deep ; and the last was entirely defaced, 
but led to the platform. Dun Moher had four flights of steps, the 
western 3 feet 8 inches wide, the north-eastern broken, and the eastern 
with three steps, while the fourth led from the terrace (which was flagged) 
to the top of the wall. Abundant flights have since been built. In Dun 
Conor there were, before the restoration, four flights of steps, about five in 
each, though some must have been covered ; another flight led from left 
to right from the terrace to the top, at the north. Now it and the then 
utterly defaced inner wall-face of Dubh Cathair have got elaborate terraces 
and steps. The lower part of a massive flight of sloping steps rising from 
left to right remains at Cahergel, near Headford, Galway. Like a fort at 
Mary Gray Hill, Tyrone, they are of unusual construction, for the blocks 
project from the face of the wall like the steps of a modern stile. 

The actual terraces in these forts are very variable in width and height. For example : — 
Caherdooneerish, 5 feet wide hy 5 feet high; Feenagh, lower terrace, 4 feet by 4 feet; second, 
2 feet by 4 feet ; and upper terrace, perhaps, 4 feet by 4^ feet. Ballykinvarga, lower, 4 feet by 
4 feet ; second, 2 feet to 4 feet by 4 feet to 5 feet ; upper broken. Cahermoyle Bangan, 2J feet 

78 Westropp — The Ancient Forts of Ireland. 

by 3 feet; Cahercuttine, 9 to 12 inches, and 4 feet to 5 feet high; Cahergrillaun, 1 foot to \h 
feet wide ; Glenqiiin, 2 feet to 4 feet, and 4 feet to 5 feet high ; MuUach, lower ten-ace, 2 J feet 
by 5 feet; upper, 4 feet by 4 feet; Caherahoagh, 3J feet by 4 to 5 feet high; Cahermorp 
Killeen, 3 feet by 5 feet high. The terraces of Dun Aenghus, about 3^ feet to 4 feet. Dun 
Onacht, 3 feet deep, and 6 feet or 7 feet high, with 3 recesses, 4 feet or 5 feet deep, as at 
Mullach in Clare. 

The size of the steps vary, as larger blocks could in some cases be procui'ed and were 
always preferred. They were, in Caherdooneerish, 2^ feet long ; Cahergrillaun, IJ feet 
long, 10 inches to 15 inches high, and 12 inches to 16 inches tread ; Caherfeenagh, 3 feet long, 
10 inches high, 3 inches or 4 inches tread; Cahercuttine, 3} feet long, 10 inches high, 3 inches or 
4 inches deep ; and 2^ feet long, 6 inches to 8 inches high, and 3 inches to 4 inches deep. 

Kerry. — The terraces are sometimes replaced by platforms, and the 
steps run up the wall in X shaped arrangements or bays, as strikingly seen 
at Staigue fort and Ballycarberry. Staigue has ten bays of X steps ; and 
though the steps are of small shapeless blocks, far inferior to those in Galway 

Fig. 15.— Staigue Fort, Kerry. 

and aare, the arrangement is easily discernable. For defensive purposes it 
was inferior to the terraces and steps, as one could only pass on the level at 
the top and bottom of the wall. Cahergel has three terraces 2 feet, 2| feet, 
and 21 feet wide, the wall being 12| feet at top and 19 feet at base, and the 
whole 14 feet high. It has eight bays of X steps. Cahersavane has con- 
tinuous terraces and no steps. Dunbeg has three low steps or terraces ; 
and the liss of Caherdorgan to the south of the stone fort of that name 
and the "Rath Caher" of Bally heabought, have low earthen terraces 
faced with dry stone. 

For steps other than in the terraces and inner face of the wall we only 
know of five flights : tlie rock cut steps ascending the east face of Doon 
hill fort, above Kilfenora, Clare, the block steps leading up the knoll to 

Westropp — The Ancient Forts of Ireland. 79 

the ruined gate of Ballyshanny fort near the same village, two at Lough- 
nacrannagh, Antrim, and those at the Giant's Sconce in Londonderry. 

50. Gateways. — The regularly-built gateways of early stone forts are 
some of the most interesting features of primitive building, and are very 
rare outside Ireland, the best examples being, perhaps, tliose of Tre Ceiri 
in Wales and Maen promontory fort in Cornwall ;* but tlie doorways of 
clochauns and those of the Scottish brochs ai'e closely similar. 

In Irish literature we find many allusions showing us how familiar to 
the ancient inhabitants was the stone gateway of a fort. It is noteworthy, 
however, that the gateway with side posts, though most frequently named 
in our books, is rarest in our ruins. | A poem of Flan Mainistrech (c. 1050) 
mentions "a pillar stone in the principal gate of the caher";J and in the 
Mesca Ulad,^ warriors are mistaken for "stone columns at the doors of 
these royal raths," which gets an interesting illustration from our ruins, 
notably the trilithon gate of the rath near Renvyle, Galway. One of the 
stone forts named in the Voyage of Maelduin had a stone slab with a hole 
in it, closing its gateway on the seaside, and had another gateway facing 
the plain. II The outer entrance of the souterrain in the fort of Mortyclough, 
Clare, was actually closed by a movable slab. Another fort in the same 
story had a " brazen door and drawbridge," while " The Demon Chariot of 
Cuchullin "^ tells us of Dunsciath with doors and ramjoarts of iron. For 
the holed slab we probably find equivalents in those lying near the gate 
of Dunbeg, near Fahan, and at Cahercullane, near Dingle. One has also been 
found in a promontory fort in Dalmatia. Traces of a drawbridge jjrobably 
exist in Doon Fort near Kilf enora ; we find a gaj) in the rampart and a 
square jjlatform projecting fi'om the ojiposite side of the rock-cut fosse, 
evidently to su^iport a removable plank or bridge. 

Trilithon doorways with side-posts and lintels are found at Renvyle 
and Caherribert, in Galway, Cahercuttine, Caherminane, Dangan, Bally- 
kinvarga, and Rannagh, in Clare; and some other forts. Upright slabs 

* Royal Inst. Cornwall, vol. i. (1864), p. 8. § Todd Lectui'e Series, R.I.A., p. 21. 

t " Hunting of Sliabh Triiim," p.ll5. || Bevtie. Celtiqtie, ix. (1888), p. 451, &c. 

X "Book of Feenagh," p. 131. ^ R.S.A.I., i., ser. iv. (1870), p. 385. 

80 Westropp — The Ancient Forts of Ireland. 

form gateposts at Ballynavenooragh and Fahan in Kerry, or great side- 
blocks, as in the Cashel of Rathmichael in Dublin and Caheradrine in 
Galway. The more common type has got sides of coursed masonry, 
slightly inclined jambs, and large lintels. In some cases double lintels occur, 
a relieving one lying overhead, as at Staigue in Kerry and Caheranardur- 
rish, Clare. Perfect examples of such doors are found at Inismurray, 
Sligo ; Dun Aenghus (two), Galway ; Kilcashel, Mayo ; Caheranardurrish, 
Poulcaragharush, Lisananima and Moheramoylan, Clare ; Dunbeg, Kerry ; 
and Cahermoygliar, Cork.* Defaced ones are found in numerous forts. 
For example, at Grianan Aileach, Dun Oghil, Dun Conor, and many 
Galway forts ; Caherconree, Caherconor, and many other Kerry forts; Caher- 
grillaun (a most massive examjjle) and many other Clare forts, and several 
in Mayo, Sligo, Donegal, and Cork. The type is also familiar in Scottish 
brochs and forts. 

Variants of this type have a corbelling towards the upper part to reduce 
the unsupported span of the lintel, as at the cliff fort of Cashlaun Gar, and 
in Kilcashel, or slabs projecting like door-jambs from the sides of the 
passage, as in Ballynavenooragh and the Fahan forts. We also noticed 
this feature in the shore brochs of Keiss in northern Scotland. 

Dunbeg fort near Fahanf has one of the most elaborate and interesting 
gateways occurring in early forts. It consists of a large passage from 
3 feet 6 inches to 4 feet 6 inches wide ; and at about 9 feet from the entrance 
it abruptly widens to 7 feet. The whole is paved and roofed with lai-ge 
slabs. Closer examination shows that the wide passage is original and ran 
through the older wall for about 16 feet. A later wall, 7^ feet thick, Avas 
built outside of, but in contact with, the older, having a contracted entrance 
and a recess on each side, probably for a beam or sliding barrier. The older 
part had on each side a small guard-room, each with a " spy hole " running 

* To give a few examples of large lintels, we select: — Ballykinvarga, 6 ft'et by 12 inches 
by 2 feet 7 incbes ; Cabercuttiue, 8 feet 6 inches by 2 feet by 1 foot 2 inches ; Caheranardurrish, 
8 feet 2 inches by 1 foot 6 inches by 9 inches ; Staigue, 5 feet 10 inches by 9 inches by 2 feet ; 
Dangan (Burren), 8 feet 10 inches by 1 foot 6 inches by 10 inches. 

I See excellent plans by Mr. E. A. S. Macalister, Trans. E.I. A., vol. xxxi., plate xx., and 
ilr. Lynch, E.S.A.I., vol. xxviii. (1898), pp. 325-328. 

Westropp— ?%e Ancient Forts of Ireland. 


aslant and looking across the entrance. Tlie right or western room had 
also a long recess continued into the passage, and at the opposite side of 
the latter for a sliding beam. The spy-hole of the left or eastern guard- 
room is closed by the later pier. It has been carefully planned by Mr, 
P. J. Lynch, by myself, and by Mr. R. Macalister, the plan by Du Noyer 
being undoubtedly most inaccurate. An underground passage remains 
beneath the entrance, and raised way through the outworks. It was 
probably intended to enable the garrison to sally and assail an attacking 
band in the rear. 

The gateway of Ballykinvarga Caher is approached by a sunken 
passage through the abattis, tliis passage, as at Tiryns and elsewhere, 
turning to the right (and possibly intended to expose the right and 
unshielded side) of anyone approaching the wall.* 

The low doors of Innismurray cashel are also exceptional in forts, 
but are similar to entrances not uncommon in souterrains ; the outer ope 

* Can this approach with the right side to the object have only had a luck-bringing 
intention? and did friendly visitors make a "desiul" round the fort before entering? 


82 Westropp — The Ancient Forts of Ireland. 

is much lower than the inner, an abrupt rise in the floor taking place in 
a domed chamber where an enemy would lie at a deadly disadvantage 
against any defender of the passage. 

The doors, as a rule, face the south or east, though, where the fort is 
built among rocks, the position of the gateway depends on the ground, 
being turned to some accessible ledge or track ; but the gateway at 
Cashlaun Gar is built upon the only precipitous ridge less than 10 feet 
high and was evidently reached by a ladder. At all other points 
were either a high cliff or accessible slopes, and both were avoided by 
the door-builders. 

Some forts present a perfect face without any trace of a gateway ; 
they may have been also intended to be entered by a ladder, but care has 
to be used in asserting the fact, for unless the whole outer face can be 
examined, a doorway may have existed ; for example, at Roughan fort, we 
long believed we had established the want of a gateway, but found that 
remains existed under bushes on the inner side, and that its narrow ope 
less than a yard wide was hidden on the outer face by bushes and debris. 

To enumerate the size of a few gateways (giving the compass point, and, if possible, the 
height) we may select : — Li Donegal — Grianan Aileach (S.), 3 feet 8 inches to 3 feet 10 inches ; 
Cashelore, 2 feet by 2 feet 6 inches high. In Londonderry — Giants' Sconce, 5 feet. In SUgo — Innis- 
murray, main gate (W.), 3 feet 5 inches to 3 feet by 6 feet 3 inches high. In Galtcag— Dim 
Aenghus (E.), 3 feet 5 inches, and 6 feet 6 inches high ; Dim Onacht (E.), 5 feet 9 inches ; Dun 
Conor (N.E.), 6 feet 3 inches; BaUynasean, 2 feet 6 inches ; Caherribert (W.), 3 feet 2 inches 
to 2 feet 10 inches by 4 feet 10 inches. In Cavan — Moneygashel, 3 feet 8 inches. In Mayo — 
Dunnamoe (E), 3 feet 8 inches. Kilcashel 4 feet 9 inches wide and about 6 feet high. In 
Clare — Caheimoyle-Dangan, 2 feet 6 inches; Caherdoonerish (E.), 2 feet 8 inches; Ballyganner 
South, 2 feet 9 inches, passage, 6 feet 9 inches (E.); Ballyelly (W.), 2 feet 10 inches; Caher- 
commaun (N.), Poulacarran (N.E.), Caheimore Eoughan (E.), all 3 feet; C'ahercuttine (S.S.E.), 
Ballyganner North (E.), all 4 feet 2 inches; Caheranardunish (E.), 6 feet high, Eannagh 
(S.S.E.), Poulcaragharush (E.), Moheramoylan (S.), and Caherahoagh (S.E.), all 4 feet 4 inches; 
Cashlaun Gar (E.N.E.), 5 feet 2 inches; Ballykinvarga (S.S.E.), 5 feet 9 inches; Cahermacrole 
(E.S.E.), and Cahergrillaun (S.S.E.), 8 feet and 8^ feet, but perhaps only in the passage, and 
not at the gateway. In Kerry — Dunbeg (N.), 3 feet 6 inches ; Caherconor, " Fort of the 
"Wolves" (E.), 4 feet 4 inches; Caherdonnell (Cahemamairtinigh) (E.), 3 feet 9 inches; Staigue, 
inner 3 feet 6 inches, outer 5 feet 2 inches ; Ballynavenooragh, 4 feet 6 inches ; Caherconree 
(E.), 7 feet 6 inches, perhaps only in passage ; Cahermurphy (^N.W.), 2 feet 3 inches to 3 feet. 
In Cork — Caheimoygliar, 2 feet 8 inches. 

Westijopp — The Ancient Forts of Ireland. 


It may be seen that among these examples the width varies from 
2 feet 6 inches to 5 feet 2 inches, and the height from 2 feet 6 inches to 
6 feet 6 inches. 

51. Abattis and Pillars. — In ancient Ireland pillars were set near 
forts, frequently close to the entrance. Several of these occur at 
the forts of Cork and Kerry ; we only recall, in Clare, a small 
example in the fosse of a rath, on the hill overlooking the great 
stone fort of Cahershaughnessy. 

r A 

•^n. '^ " - ft 

In mediaeval Irish literature, the 
Tdin B6 Cuailgne mentions "a 
pillar-stone on the green before a 
dun"; the "Mesca Ulad " speaks 
of a "pillar-stone outside the fort 
which all the Clanna Degad could 
not lift," and of stone columns 
raised to shelter horses and houses 
from the snow near Knockaney 
fort in Limerick* ; but we are 
not aware of the existence of any 
certain allusion to an abattis or 
chevaux defrise. This is not sur- 
prising when we consider that 
these obstacles are only found 
in wild and remote corners of 
Ireland, the only ones of any 

importance being in North-western Clare and the neighbouring Isle of 
Aran. We find at Dun Aenghus, between the second and outer ramparts, a 
band of fixed pillar-stones 60 to 80 feet wide ; the pillars as a rule 3 and 
4 feet high, and set closely together. A still more interesting example 
girds the great caher of Ballykinvarga in Clare ; it varies from 50 to 
100 feet wide, of close set, low pillars, jagged, and sharp, and smaller 
spikes set between them ; a most painful and dangerous tract to traverse in 




100 F! 

Fig. 17. — Abattis, Ballykinvarga, Clare. 

* " Tain," as quoted in " Feis tighe Chonain," p. 79. " Mesca Ulad," pp. 17-21 

M 2 

84 Westropp — The Ancient Forts of Ireland. 

peace, and probably too dangerous for attack in war. The outer edge is 
kerbed with large blocks and an earth mound ; the greater width to the 
N.W. is accounted for by a decided alteration in the setting at about 40 
or 50 feet from the fort whence the spikes are more apart, and were 
probably an afterthought or a still later addition. The largest block 
in the outer kerbing is 7 feet by 2 feet 7 inches by 1 foot thick,* and, with 
its smaller but massive neighbours, forms, to modern minds, a most 
dangerous shelter for an attacking force, once they had rushed over the 
open field. The abattis at Dubh Cathair in Aran is a slight structure 
compared to the two first examples, and still less (scarcely worthy of the 
name) is that at Dunnamoe, Mayo, a band of small blocks scarcely rising 
a foot above the soil. The late Dr. Frazer had, in his collection, a plan 
of a cliif fort in the mountains north of Anascaul to the west of Dingle, 
in Keriy, the ground before which was sti'ewn with large, loose blocks. 

The feature is not confined to the forts of Ireland ; we find it at Pen 
Caer Helen in Wales, the pillars standing in rather open ranks with sharp 
slate splinters set between the larger stones ; and otliers exist at Cademuir 
and Dreva in Scotland. f Castel Coz, at Finist^re, in Brittany, has a double 
line of pillars as an obstacle between the walls, and running across the 
headland. J A " Ring-berg " at Laufen, in Berne, Switzerland, has a semi- 
circle of stones on its defended side ; and the outer ring of the great 
" Bauerberge " on Mohne, in the Baltic, has an earth-mound set with large 
stones closely resembling Ballykinvarga. Perhaps, akin to such defences 
is the line of pillar-stones across a projecting headland in Kerry, the clifF 
near it bearing the suggestive name of Doonroe. 

Pillars exist in groups near certain forts in Cork and Kerry : in 
the former we find a " gallan," or pillar, and a defaced dolmen at Bally- 
nabortagh fort (0. S. Map 52), and others at forts near Cahertruce and 
Cappaboy ; but the subject of Cork forts lias been, as usual, unworked, 
and we have been able to do ver}' little in the district which (save for 

* Journal, U.S.A. I., vol. xxvii. (1897), p. 125, illustration. 

f Archaeological Journal, vol. sxv., p. 228. ArcLEeologia Cambrensis, ser. iv., vol. xii., 
p. 345. Dr. Christison's " Early Foi-tifications of Scotland," pp. 22.5, 226. See fig. 4, supra. 
\ " Archseologia Cambrensis," ser. iv., vol. i. (1870), p. 286 ; and fig. 4, supra. 

Westropp — The Ancient Forts of Ireland. 85 

the endless labours of John Windele, so forg'otten and neglected by j^resent 
antiquaries) has been almost unnoticed by Irish workers. Not far from 
Annagh Church, Kerry, are a caher and eight pillars, 10 feet apart; six 
of these have fallen. Various theories have been put forward, the least 
satisfactory of which the "monumental" theory* supposes the abattis of 
Dun Aenghus to be a cemetery. No one who had seen the serried ranks 
of pillars at it or Ballykinvarga could have ever for an instant conceived 
of such an explanation for such defences, but in the case of the above 
"detached" gallans it may hold good. For other purposes of such 
"detached" pillars, we may perhaps find a clue in a poem of Seanchan 
{c. A.D. 640) in the Book of Lecan,t which mentions "a stone of meeting 
by the three mounds of walled fortresses"; and in the chartulary of 
Aberdeen, where Alexander Steuart, Lord of Badenoch, is recorded to 
have held a court of regalityj " apud le standand stanes de la Rath de 
Kingusie." The latter earthen fort is still extant, but the pillars have 
been removed, doubtless for building material. The Lebor na hUidhre 
mentions "pillar-stones erected to commemorate victories"; but without 
records we cannot tell whether any of these gallans are dumb witnesses 
of forgotten bloodshed. We have noted the pillars in a stone fort at 
Edentinny, and there are others in forts in Cork, Armagh, Donegal, 
Tip])erary, and one in a small ring at Rathcroghan. 

52. Traverses. — The absence of walls to embarrass any assailant who 
gained the interior of the fort has been noticed in Scotland and other 
countries. Many of the Irish cahers, however, have an elaborate and 
confusing system of radiating walls, small enclosures, and other impedi- 
ments; some of these maybe of modern date (" folds," &c.), but many 
command or obstruct the entrance in a way suggestive of defence. The 
gateway of Caherconor (the so-called "Fort of the Wolves") in Kerry 
opened into a small court, whence a narrow passage ran between two 
huts into a maze of other passages and open spaces. In Cahermurphy, 
not far away, a successful capture of the gateway would have left the 

* " Pagan Ireland," p. 186. Col. Wood-Martin doubts this theory. 

t " Book of Lecan," p. 17. % Dr. Christison, " Early Fortifications of Scotland,'' p. 13. 

86 Westropp — The Ancient Forts of Ireland. 

enemy hampered in another deathtrap. Cahercommaun, in Clare,* has a 
most curious arrangement of radiating walls and a long passage. Caher- 
connell, Ballyallaban, and Caherscrebeen have cross walls. Ballykinvarga, 
Clare (like Castle Chun in Cornwall), has a close row of small enclosures 
projecting from the wall and one loop beside the gate. Dun Oghil, in 
Aran, seems to have had ancient radiating walls, and sucli occur at 
Cahershaughnessy and Cahercalla, near Quin ; Cashel, in Cork ; Mogliane 
and the Grianan Aileach ; while the earthen fort near Sliannid, Limerick, 
has cross mounds populai-ly said to have been made for cannon. 

53. Streets and Greens. — Cormac's Glossaryf mentions a ramhat, 
"an open space or street, before the forts of Kings every neighbour 
whose land comes up to it is bound to clear it." The green was a 
sufficiently important feature in tribal life to be regulated by the ancient 
laws ; so we find the Book of AicillJ alluding to rules for hurling on the 
green of a chief cathair, and for preventing the erection of structures on 
it, save when connected with the games. In some cases the green was 
elaborately fenced, if we may trust the " Mesca Ulad,"§ which names 
" chains firmly fastened to the seven pillars that are on the green outside" 
the fort. We do not know any example of an enclosed or marked green, 
but at Caheraneden, near Ballyganner, Clare, a broad roadway leads 
southward from the fort for about 500 feet, as far as a fallen dolmen. 
It was evidently formed by removing the uneven upper surface of the 
rock, leaving the lower and less weathered layer to form a pavement. 
The traces of another ancient road at Usnach is well marked ; another 
roadway connected with the legend of the Black Pig remains in Kildare, 
running from a fort to a mote, and straight for Dun Ailinn, and an ancient 
paved road adjoins Knockra Caher in Donegal. It has been suggested, 
but perhaps doubtfully, that the lower enclosures^ of motes may represent 
such "greens." 

* See plan, section 96. 

f Quoted in the Introduction to the " Book of Rights." It is noteworthy that " Raw " in 
Scotch and English names is ' straight street ' or ' row.' 

\ "Book of Aicill," (Senchus Mor, vol. iii.), p. 253. § "Mesca Iliad," p. 43. 

Westropp — The Ancient Forts of Ireland. 87 

54. Outworks. — We may class outworks as bastions, annexes, bauns, 
fosses, earthworks and sunken ways. The loop of wall, forming a side en- 
closure to so many of our forts, and rising to no little size and importance, 
at Dun Conor, in Aran, is nearly always less thick and lofty than the main 
fort. Ithas equivalent enclosures in earthen forts and probably was used as 
a baun, and marks an advance in comfort and cleanliness. The presence of 
thin-walled, circular, or straight-sided enclosures, without steps, terraces or 
hut-sites, near several cahers in Clare and Kerry {e.g. Cahernaspekee, Cash- 
laun Gar and Cahercullaun) are also very probably for cattle, as wolves and 
marauders must have abounded in those wild j^laces and times. We must, 
it is true, regard DuNoyer's " Fort of the Wolves"— Cahernamactirech— as a 
misreading of " Cahernamartinech " the name of a neighbouring fort; but 
there was a " Cahernam'^tire " in Clare in Elizabethan times, which is pro- 
bably the fort still named Cahermacateer ; and the many places (with forts) 
called Breffy tell of the presence of "the grey beast" near human settle- 
ments. Near the massive stone fort of Cahermacrea, Clare, we find a thin- 
walled oval ring-wall enclosing a space three times the diameter of the caher ; 
it was very probably a baun, and is called Cahermacrea on the maps. 
Smaller forts are sometimes embedded in the ramparts of larger ring-walls 
in Scotland, Wales, and Ireland, Moghane being the most noteworthy 
Irish example. They could scarcely have preceded the great walls, as 
these are far more defaced and of different and ruder blocks. We might 
regard them as precursors of the bastions and towers in later fortresses ; but 
it is equally possible that they were built upon and out of the main walls, 
because the latter had fallen, and were too extensive for the wants of the 
later iudwellers. We see forts, one on a rock, included in the lines of the 
huge "Dane's Cast" in Down, and of the "Worm-ditch" in Cavan, but 
not (so far as I know) in the extensive lines of Duncladh in Longford, 
which has forts lying near it, but never seems to have joined them or had 
any such constructions in its own earthworks. 

Sometimes a stone fort had a trench round it, like Staigue, or a 
rock-cut fosse, like the forts of Doon (Clare), Tara, and the great Mote of 
Slane (Meath). The Doon fosse is a beautiful work curved and sloped 
most regularly, with a square projection for a drawbridge or foot-plank 
and rock-cut steps. There is a rock-cutting faced with a dry-stone wall 

88 Westropp — The Ancient Forts of Ireland. 

before the gate of Ballyallaban calier, Clare. Sunken ways are found 
leading from some motes to rivers ; they are found in several British 
forts, e.g. Linhope in Yorkshire and also at the great motes of Dromore, 
Down, and Dundermot, Antrim, Dunbought rock fort near the last, and 
MuHacreevagh, Westmeath. Tlie covered way at Mycenae vnll be re- 
membered as leading to a well outside the fortress. The walled sunken 
way through the abattis of Ballyldnvarga, and the long souterrain under 
the raised entrance mound of Dunbeg (at any rate, in the latter case) 
more propei'ly belong to defences unconnected with the water-supply. 
The trenches, concentric or otherwise, girding so many of our forts, will 
be noted in the section treating of the typical examples. 

55. Souterrains and Cells in Ramparts. — The subject of souterrains, 
" caves," " ooans," &c., is of sufficient inde^Dendent importance to 
form the subject of a separate essay, but a brief notice of those 
forming essential features in forts is necessary for the greater 
completeness of our studies. Caesar, in his Commentaries, notes the 
skill of the Gauls in making subterranean retreats. Souterrains a^^jjear 
in Irish works, and one Irish "earth-house" is recorded in the Landna- 
mabok. Leif, the first Norwegian settler in Ireland, found a great under- 
ground house (lardhus), nearly dark, and inhabited by an Irishman 
whom he slew, and took his goods and sword, being ever after called 
Hiorleif, or "Leif of the Sword."* The Dindsenchas,t in its legend 
of Tipra Sengarman, tells how Finn (after the avengers of his victim 
Cuirech had wrecked Croch, Dun, Cathair Comfossad, and Caisil 
Gannain) found that the raiders were hidden in an underground cave at 
Carn daim derg, and dug them out; only one escaped, "for there is no 
destruction without at least one fugitive." The spirit of Chuchullin, in the 
legend of the "Demon Chariot," tells King Laoghaire of his plundering 
raid to the horrible fort of Dunsciath, which had iron ramparts, doors, and 
souterrain. In " Cormac's Glossar)^,"J Nede pursues Caier with dogs into 
a fort, and finds him hidden under the flagstone behind it.§ 

* "Landnamabok," Parti., chap. v. f Revue Celtiqtie, 1894, p. 447. 

X " Coi-mac's Glossary," p. xxxix. 

§ The previous papers on fort souterrains are given in the excellent list in Col. Wood-Martin's 
" I'agan Ireland," pp. 204-212 and p. 647. 

Westropp — The Ancient Forts of Ireland. 


The simplest form of souterrain is walled with dry masonry, and 
covered with long slabs or pillars. Several of these " caves" have yielded 
ogham inscriptions, on roof-stones which had been taken from some old 
burial-place, as at Drumloghan in Waterford, Dunloe, near Killarney, 
the "cave" at Rathcroghan in Roscommon, and one at Carncomb, near 
Connor in Antrim. The last had a side passage, and varied from 5 feet 
3 inches to 2 feet 9 inches wide, tapering upwards. The souterrains in 



Fig. 18. — Soutorrain in Gurteen Fort, Westmeath, 

cahers in the Burren are usually a natui'al cleft or a quarried passage in 
he rock, the sides built with small stones, and a roof of slabs, hut no 
pillars. These passages are straight, " C " curved or " S " curved, or " L " 
shaped in plan, and are seldom more than 3 feet wide, though some are 
6 feet high ; they sometimes lead outside the fort passing under the wall. 
One in Cahermacnole, near Carran, is of considerable length, close on 

From UL. lu. acad. tuans., vol. xxxi. — pari xiv. 


90 Westropp — The Ancient Forts of Ireland. 

100 feet, but with that exception the longest measured in that district 
seldom exceeded 20 feet. The curved souterrain in the western caher 
at Ballyganner South is 6 feet 8 inches wide and 5 feet high ; the roof 
slabs rest on cornices projecting 12 inches on either side. 

A more elaborate form has got boat-shaped or bee-hive cells with 
corbelled roofs ; these seem widespread from Meath to Kerry. A beautiful 
example has been described by Rev. W. Falkiner in the Proceedings of 
the Royal Irish Academy.* It is in the inner earthwork of a rath at 
Gurteen (Westmeath), and has three domed chambers ; the most note- 
worthy feature is a shelf across the under passage giving access to the 
main gallery. 

A very fine souterrain over 50 feet long lies under the graveyard to the 
S.E. of Killala Cathedral (Mayo). In digging a grave, the roof of a bee- 
hive cell was broken in, and by this means only access is given to the 
structure. From the circular cell which is 6 feet in diameter, narrow 
passages about 2 feet wide run east and west, and from the eastern side wing, 
which is 25 feet long, but is partly stopped, a similar passage leads south- 
ward ; while a larger opening to the north gives entrance to three oblong 
chambers, two 6 feet wide by 18 feet and 8 feet 6 inches long, and 4 feet 
high ; and a thii'd 5 by 15 feet, which has an opening to a chamber of 
equal size to the east. The shape of the ground, and a considerable bank 
show that this was the souterrain of a large rath in which the church was 
founded, t The church of Glencolumbkill (Donegal) has near it a souter- 
rain, and is in the ambit of another rath. 

Meath abounds in such structures ; they are frequently disclosed, like 
that of Killala, by a collapse of a domed cell ; we need only cite a good 
example with two cells near Clady Church, and others at Blackcastle and 
Slane, but in many instances there is no evidence to connect them with 
forts. The most remarkable feature in any souterrain connected with a 
fort in Meath is at Crossdrum, near Oldcastle, where Mr. E. C. Rotheram 
discovered two "ventilating" shafts, one in the innermost cell. This 

* Vol. v., ser. iii., p. 211. We utilise the accompanjing plan. 
t Explored by Mr. R. Cochi'ane, Journ. R.S.A.I., 1898, p. 292. 

Westropp — The Ancient Forts of Ireland. 91 

"cave" had also an excellent example of an "obstacle" entrance from 
the outer passage through the floor of the inner one.* 

Perhaps some of the most curious in western Ireland are those near 
Mortyclough (Clare), at the S.E. corner of Galway Bay. One lies in Park- 
more rath, a double ringed, circular fort, 120 feet internally, and 214 feet 
over the fosses, the ramparts being stone-faced. The souterrain is about 
6 feet square ; it opens in the middle of the fort, and runs S.W. for 20 feet 

6 inches, being built with fair-sized stones, and roofed with slabs. The 
passage ends in a wall ; but an opening in the roof gives access to a chamber 

7 feet by 6 feet by 4 feet, and a second trap-door leads down to another 
chamber at right angles to the first, 14 feet by 10 feet by 6 feet, whence, 
from the end farthest from the entrance, another small passage leads out 
through the rampart ; its opening was closed by a slab 4 feet square. 

A somewliat similar " cave " remains in Mortyclogh fort ; and lesser 
but equally complex passages are found in the angle of Clare near Kilkee 
and Carrigaholt. One passage in the stone fort of Cahermaclancy, near 
Lisdoonvarna, ended in a very deep pit leading down to water at an 
unknown depth, and another in the neighbouring fort of Caherglasha 
had side cells. The Kerry "caves" are numerous, and of great interest. 
Those under the gateway of Dunbeg, and in the caher of Ballynave- 
nooragh, are noted elsewhere, and we need only allude to those connected, 
not only with forts, but even with detached huts, at Fahan. Many are 
only straight, without side cells; but we meet exami)les, "dumbbell shaped" 
in plan, and one "wine-glass shaped" in plan lies in Cahernuadh.f 
Cooslughoga "cave," Mayo, has cup-marks on its pillars. J 

Closely cognate with the souterrain, and also with the passages in the 
Scottish brochs, are the passages and cells in the thickness of the walls of 
certain cahers. We have noted the strange recesses in the great rampart 
of Dunbeg. The entrance to a cell (but no chamber) is found in the inner 

* Jouriiiil E.S.A.I., vol. xxvii., p. 426. For other information by the same author, see 
" Caves in tlie Slieve na Callighe district," Proc. R.I. A., ser. iii., vol. iii. ; and " Ballinvally Stone 
Fort," Journal R.S.A.I., vol. xxix., p. 259. Ventilating shafts also occiu- at Ardflnnan Rath. 

t See Mr. R. Maoalistcr's plans in Trans. R.I. A., vol. xxxi., plates xxi. and xxii. 

\ Sir W. Wilde's "Lough Corrib," p. 206. 

N 2 

92 Westropp — The Ancient Forts of Ireland. 

wall of Dun Aenghus, and tradition told of others, not now discoverable, 
in Dun Conor and Dubh Cathair. A passage " high enough for a man to 
stand up in," but now inaccessible, occurs inside the rampart of the caher of 
Kilcashel (Maj-o) for about 20 feet. A small oblong chamber remains in the 
monastic casliel round the cells and oratory on Illaunatannig, but the most 
striking examples are in the forts of Grianan Aileach and Caherconor(" the 
Fort of the Wolves") at Fahan. From the plans of these forts, as given 
by DuNoyer, it would appear that (as is supposed to have been the case in 
some of the Dartmoor "pounds," where walls with hollow centres remain) 
these passages ran tln-ough the greater part (if not all) of the wall. The 
detached passage, in the southern segment of Caherconor, was probably 
continuous with the N.W. segment, and it should seem that the builders of 
the large hut (marked "h" by DuNoyer, and "b" by Mr. Macalister*) 
broke into and closed the passage; the northern section has now nearly dis- 
appeared, and the other reaches are inaccessible. But as Mr. Macalister's 
researches do not bear this out, we write with every reserve. 

The recesses in the entrance of Grianan Aileach (if not for doors) may 
be built-up portions of the passages remaining in the walls to either side of 
the gate. A passage remains in the eastern segment of Cahernamairtin- 
each (DuNoyer's caher, No. 8, Windele's Caherdonnell), which, strange to 
say, is (like the fort-name) overlooked in DuNoyer's plan, though Windelef 
mentions its existence, and it is now sufficiently visible. DuNoyer's plan 
of this caher, and indeed all the plans in his paper on Fahan are very far 
from accurate. 

Cells in the wall occur in several Kerry forts beside Dunbeg. Staigue 
has two, neatly domed and with low doors ; defaced cells occur in the 
wall of Ballynavenooragh, as given in a plan in Dr. Frazer's collection ;% 
there is also a fine souterrain 15 or 20 feet long, 10 feet high, and 5 feet 
wide, with a lateral chamber in the middle of the fort, and within a hut- 
site. A cell is shown in the wall of a nameless clifE-fort in a plan in the 
same collection. So far as we can identify it, it is on Dromaville Mountain, 

* Archaeological Journal, xv., 1858, pp. 9-10. Trans. R.I. A., vol. xxsi., Plate xii. 
f Mss. R.I. A., Windele's Sketches, vol. 2, p. 238, Supplement. 
% See figure 2 1 . 

Westropp — The Ancient Forts of Ireland. 93 

2 or 3 miles north of Annascaul (Kerry), at Carrig-na-Spania, and is three- 
quarters of a mile from the ruin or house locally attributed to Cuchullin. 
That hero is said to have carried off a Spanish lady who, endeavouring 
to escape down the cliff, fell and was killed, giving her name to the rocks 
on the summit of which the caher is placed. A cell (not noticed by Mr. 
Wakeman) is traceable in the wall of Dunnamoe, Mayo. 

56. Wardens' Huts. — Wardens' huts present a difficult subject ; although 
a " seat" before the fort is mentioned, and in some cases watch was kept 
therefrom, there is little, if anything, in the ruins which even externally 
resembles a guard-house. The most authentic case is Dunbeg (Kerry), where 
we have two cells with "squints" and straight opes commanding the entrance 
passage. If the galleries in the wall at Grianan Aileach, Caherconor 
(Fahan), and Cahernamairtineach, ever opened into the door-passage, we 
might put them into the category. Huts frequently remain inside the forts 
near the gateway ; but then others existed in other places in the garth. 
At the time of the first Ordnance Survey there were two huts (one to each 
side of the gateway) outside the wall of Dunnamoe (Mayo) ; but these are 
not shown in Mr. Wakeman's plan. DuNoyer shows a small cell in the 
wall as opening outwards beside the gate of Caherconor (" the Fort of the 
Wolves ") ; but we could not find it in the ruin or any other examples 
except of the most doubtful nature in some hundreds of cahers which we 
have been able to examine in the west of Munster and Connaught. 

57. Holed Stones, Bullauns, Oghams, and Carvings. — Holed stones 
were found at CahercuUaun and Dunbeg, and bullauns near a nameless 
caher in Tullycommaun, Clare. Natural basins, closely resembling the 
worked bullauns, appear near other forts in Clare and Galway ; but, as 
similar examples are found in the crags far from any fort, and numbers 
of artificial basins are found near dolmens and in old " killeens," we 
may regard their appearance near forts as accidental. 

Stones, with Ogham inscriptions, have been found in forts, for exanijjle, 
the Dunbell raths and the remarkable pillar in Dunmore, near Slea Head 
(Kerry) ; their consideration lies outside the present essay. As for non- 
religious (Christian) carvings, Mr. Macalister has figured some curious 

94 Wkstropp — The Ancient Forts of Ireland. 

ones of uncertain age, but probably post-Christian, from the Fahan group ; 
those at Clochan-bothair-an-trasnuig display crosses, stars, and nondescript 
scorings and figures. One at Catbairmurphy (Caber of Glenfaban) 
has Maltese and other crosses, spirals, and waved lines, forming a rude 
guilloche, and ruder interlacings, a conventional human figure, and a 
cryptic Ogham stem, "lmcbtm", perhaps a mere charm. Another, 
from Cahernamairtineacb, has "O+Vre." We have found among the 
Clare forts a scribing at Cahercommaun resembling "yoc§-|-" ; and one, a 
line with five cross-strokes, in the caber near Newmarket House, Clare. 
A few rude circles and crosses occur on stones in forts at Ballyganner 
and Caberfenagh. The Cahercommaun stone seems to be worked by some 
idler, who scraped the mark of a weathered-out fossil brachiopod into an 
" (•," and by some other cuttings joined and made shapely tlie natural 
weatber-cracks. Indeed we may question whether any purpose, deeper or 
more intellectual than the idler's natural love for scribbling and whittling, 
underlies these mysterious markings. It is much more wonderful that a 
people with so exquisite a taste for ornament in metal, &c., and who, even 
in a remoter past, could cover the graves of their chieftains with elaborate 
ornaments and hide their work in darkness and " long night," could not 
(or would not) spend some of their abundant leisure by carving, were it 
ever so rudely, the door-posts, lintels and pillar-stones of their ancient 

58. Remains of Dwellings. — The timber structures in our forts have 
of course perished without leaving a trace, and we can only replace them 
doubtfully from our literature, which is often very rhetorical and exagger- 
ated in such matters. Of those buildings, in which stone was only partly 
used, we cannot speak with very much confidence ; but of the stone huts 
numbers remain in such excellent preservation that the difficulty lies rather 
in selecting and condensing than in procuring the material. 

Connuught. — The huts in the Sligo forts have left little trace ;* those 
in the Cashel of Innismurray are very probabl}^ entirely monastic. At 
Dunnamoe (we learn) that tbe circular clochauns before the door have 

* The building- within Grianan Aileach was mortar-liiiilt, ;ind is said to have been a late chapel. 

Westropp — The Ancient Forts of Ireland. 95 

vanished ; but three huts remain against the inner face of the main 
rampart. Tliey are built against the wall near the entrance, and form 
semicircles ; they are beehive huts, averaging 9 feet across, and 4 feet 
6 inches the height from the ground to the spring of the roof ; the 
doorway of the more eastern remains, facing the north.* The huts, if any, 
have entirely vanished from Dun Aenghus, and were reduced to almost 
untraceable rings of foundation in Dubh Cathair. In Dun Conor a very 
interesting group remains at the southern end of the garth which strongly 
suggests a group in Tre Ceiri. It has been largely rebuilt ; but, so far as 
we can judge, it preserves the plan of the foundations as we saw them in 
1878, long before the wholesale rebuilding was inaugurated. 

Clare. — The Clare forts are not rich in huts, and those that remain, from 
the small amount of debris and other indications, were probably roofed with 
timber and " scraws" of sod, like the " booley huts," put up by herdsmen 
in summer in the Connemara district, which consist of low, dry-stone 
walls, and are covered with a "tent" of " scraws." A hut-site, D-shaped 
in plan, and 18 feet internally, remains in the garth of Lismacsheedy cliff 
fort, near Ballyvaughan. A group of five conjoined cells abut against the 
rampart of Mohernacartan, on Slievenaglasha. There is a souterrain in 
the same fort. The four neighbouring forts of Cahercommaun, Cashlaun- 
gar, Knockaun, and Mohernaglasha, all exhibit huts, but of somewhat 
doubtful age. Cahercommaun had five small huts inside its outer wall ; 
three were oblong ; two of these adjoin radius walls, and two were semi- 
circles, a third semicircular hut is against the outer face of the second wall, 
and a round hut is embedded in the line of the central radius wall, just 
within the foundation of the second ring. The only hut of any size, 27 feet 
by 18 feet, lies about 50 feet outside the fort. The ruins of four round 
huts, two conjoined, remain in Cashlaun Gar, also one beehive hut, the 
dome of which has collapsed ; another remains in Mohernaglasha ; its low, 
lintelled door was on the point of falling five years ago. The structure 
does not appear to be very ancient. In Knockaun Fort is a much more 
curious structm-e. The fort itself is a thin-walled, rude rectangle, and 

* Mr. W. F. Wakeman, in Joui'iial R.S.A.I., 1889, p. 182. 

96 Westropp — The Ancient Forts of Ireland. 

within it lies a straight-sided enclosure of slabs set on end. There was a 
doorway in the middle of the southern line, and it had a flat block on 
either side, most probably for a seat.* On the north side a jjassage ran 
under the blocks to a short souterrain covered by one large slab, 7 feet 
square ; the enclosure is about 20 feet each way, and is not square. In the 
Glensleade group, we only recall one well-marked hut-site, a semicircle, 
inside the wall and adjoining the gateway of Cahernamweela. Ballyallaban 
Caher has the foundation of a circular hut and an oblong building, 36 feet 
by 15 feet, with sloped walls. In the Ballyganner forts there are no 
apparent foundations of circular huts ; but one enclosure of thin walls 
faced with slabs surrounds a small oblong foundation of slabs set on end 
— a more perfect example, illustrated in the Journal of the Royal Society 
of Antiquaries of Ireland, f lies a short distance outside the wall of 
Caheraneden, and rings of slabs set on end remain in Ballyganner 
South, near the forts on the hill ; near the walled cromlech in Ballyganner 
North, and near Cahercuttine, in the latter townland, where one encloses 
the entrance of a small souterrain. 

Three small round huts lay in the middle of the garth of Ballykinvarga 
caher, and a large oval hut in the neighbouring Caherlahertagh ; and 
except three of those very small huts (usually considered to be kennels) 
in the upper Cahei-bullog, one in the Ballyelly group, and traces of three 
in Cahershaughnessy, the remains in the other forts are doubtful, while 
all have suffered the extreme of overthrow and nearly the extreme of 

Kerry. — Kerry, undoubtedly, holds the key to the study of Irish 
Clochauns in forts ; they exist in hundreds, and many are quite perfect. 
We will only note a few of the more typical, none the less that, in a 
previous part of Transactions R.I. A., Mr. R. A. S. Macalister has most fully 
examined and given many plans of the magnificent group at and near 
Fahan. We have as yet noted only two huts consisting of a group of 
cells, namely, those at Dun Conor and Mohernacartan ; groups of cells, 
now become common enough, and are as a rule well preserved. 

* See figure 13. A seat also occurs in a recess of the passage in Grianan Ailcach. 
t Journal, vol. xxvi., p. 120. 

Westropp — The Ancient Forts of Ireland. 97 

We find in Ballyheabought caher not only a semicircular hut against 
the wall but a round clochaun divided into two by a later wall and opening 
into a " bedchamber or small semicircular annexed liut," a passage of 
flags set on end leads from the door round the northern side of the main 
clochaun into an oblong hut, now much demolished. The clochaun in 
Caher Gel is 8 feet high, the wall 5 feet thick. In Cahirdorgan, near the 
deeply interesting church of Kilmalkedar, is a group of beehive huts ; the 
north-western is about 15 feet diameter, and 9 feet high ; the south door 
oblong and lintelled ; the north-eastern is the same size, the door facing the 
east ; south of it is a large cell ; its top, as usual in the Smerwick forts, has 
collapsed; it measures 12 feet in diameter, and is about 10 feet high ; the 
door facing the S.W. is lintelled, and measures 2 feet 4 inches by 4 feet. 
Attached to the south side of the last is a small hut, which is 11 feet 9 inches 
long and 5 feet wide; the ridge is of 7 flags, and the door faces N. W., 
2 feet 10 inches high, and 1 foot 4 inches wide, the wall being 2 feet thick. 
Near the gate, if indeed the gap be a gate, is a very small oval hut or 
kennel. A souterrain is said to reach from this fort to the village ; the fort 
has a wall from 9 feet to 13 feet thick, and the garth is nearly 90 feet 

Six huts adjoin the inner face of the wall at Carrig-na-Spania fort, and 
three lie outside. A fort at Ballynavenooragh, near Dingle, is noteworthy 
for its souterrain, and also has two conjoined cells, the eastern 21 feet 
in diameter, the walls from 3 feet 9 inches to 4 feet 6 inches thick; it 
has doors to the east and west, the former 3 feet wide, and has a paved 
and kerbed path to the eastern gateway which is 4 feet wide with sideposts 
of slabs set in the centre of the wall, as at Fahan and the Keiss brochs. The 
western door 4 feet 9 inches wide opens into a second cell 9 feet wide, and 
over the souterrain ; it has a second door to the north 2 feet 6 inches wide. 
There are some of those small slabs set on end in the floors of huts such 
as are found at Fahan and Holyhead in Anglesea ; the ope or trap-door 
leading to the souterrain is 3 feet wide ; as already noted, there are defaced 
chambers or passages in the wall which is 1 1 feet thick and had steps and 
tkree terraces. 

To deal with the Fahan huts (such as lie in cahers) would be going over 


98 Westkopp — The Ancient Forts of Ireland. 

well-worked ground ; Caheruamairtineacli has a " warden's hut " in the 
gateway ; it looks into the passage in the wall ; north of this are two oval 
foundations and the remains of two curious cells conjoined, and almost 
B-shaped in plan ; farther westward is a fairly perfect hut forming one of 
a conjoined group of three ; the southern portion of the middle room was 
screened ofif by a curved wall ; the third, a southern hut, is rudely rect- 
angular, with rounded corners ; in Du Noyer's time a very small round 
"kennel" remained to the north of the main door. Behind this triple hut 
are two other sites, one irregular in plan, but perfect, and 6 feet high ; the 
other was circular and nearly levelled.* 

Sometimes circular pits occur in or round forts of sufficient regularity 
to suggest " dug-out" huts. We have found them round a fort in Caher- 
minane ; numerous circular hollows down the green slope on which the 
caher stands. They possibly resembled one we noted a few years ago at 
Mweenish in Connemara. It was dug out of a sandhill, the roof resting 
like a cover over it, and was sheltered by a low wall.f It is of modern date. 

59. Water Supply. — So far from endeavouring to secure an unfailing- 
supply of water within their walls, the fort-builders were careful rather 
to exclude any well or spring that rose near the site selected for their 
enclosure. Strange to say, this curious fact was not confined to Ireland ; 
it has left its mark on the greatest literatures of the world. We recall 
the pathetic incident of the well at the gate of Bethlehem whence intruders, 
though with risk of bloodshed, could draw water; or those springs before 
the gates of Ilium, where the ladies had washed their robes in peace 
before the Achaeans came, and to which the fated Hector ran, pursued 
by his deadly foe. Schliemann found two springs 400 yards from the 
citadel of Hissarlik,J and Tsountas mentions a spring 325 feet east from 
Mycenae, which fortress had to trust to water-supply outside its walls. 

* Fully described, Trans. R.I.A., xxsi., p. 247. 

f An illustration appears in a paper by Charles Browne, M.U., in Proe. K. I. A., ser. iii., 
vol. vi., p. 524, Plate. 

J Scliliemami, " Troy and its remains," p. 194. " Mycense and Tiryns," p. 40. Tsountas, 
"Mycenaean Age," p. 40. 

Westropp — The Ancient Forts of Ireland. 99 

Hirtius also records how Uxellodunum was reduced by the Romans, 
because its only spring lay outside the walls.* The same fact appears 
in Irish Literature. Columba, Adamnan tells us, j^rophesied that the 
well near the fort Dun Ceithern (The Giant's Sconce) should be defiled 
with human blood. "The Colloquy of the Ancients" mentions "a 
hidden well to the south side of a fort " which is suggestive of the 
spring hidden in the abattis to the south of Ballykinvarga caher.f The 
"Voyage of Maelduin"J also tells of a "fountain flowing past a fortress," 
and apparently filling its fosse. 

This peculiarity probably sprang from a wish to avoid the pollution 
of the water supply ; there was, too, comparatively little risk of blockade. 

Lack of water in the "Celtic" forts seems the rule everywhere. 
We find no example of an included well in any description of a fort in 
Bosnia or Bohemia. The Schlossberg, in Alsace, has a spring a short dis- 
tance from its wall. Dr. Christison notes that nineteen out of twenty forts 
in Pembrokeshire have no water-supply, and that the same is generally true 
of Scottish forts. § Caerconing, in Cornwall, has a well 40 or 50 yards 
distant from its rampart. St. Margaret's Well, in Kirkcudbright, lies near 
the promontory fort called Raehurn Castle. While Stokesleigh Camp, near 
Clifton Suspension Bridge, on the Avon, has an ancient pool outside its 
enclosure, II and the promontory fort of Llanunwas, in Pembrokeshire, has 
a well and stream before its outer mound. 

Among Irish forts we may note that the wells Neamhneach and Laegh 
lie respectively 70 and 230 yards from the nearest forts at Tara. The 
Mote of Slane is 160 yards from the Abbey well. The nearest water 
to Dun Aenghus is at least a quarter of a mile distant. Cahercommaun 
is 730 yards from the streams of Teeskagh ;5| while at Innismurray the 

* " De Bello Gallico" (appendix by Aldus Hirtius), Lib. vui., cap. xli. 

t Adamnan's " Life of St. Columba " (Ed. Eeeves), pp. 93-96. " Silva Gadelica," vol ii., 
p. 195; see also pp. 103-131. 

\ "Voyage of Maelduin" {Revue Celtique, vol. ix., 1898), section xvii. 

§ Dr. Christison, " Early Fortifications of Scotland," pp. 227, 228. 

II " Bristol, Past and Present" (Nicbolls and Taylor), vol. i., p. 7. 

^ There may have been a nearer spring, but, if so, it lay some distance down a steep crevice 
path called Scalpduff leading down the precipice to the east. 


100 Westropp — The Ancient Forts of Ireland. 

wall of the Cashel actually bends from the circle to exclude a spring. 
The promontory forts are usually waterless, but the motes are fre- 
quently on or near a stream, and sometimes had a sunken way leading 
to the water. 

Occasionally, however, a well is found in a "Celtic" fort. We hear 
of a well with three pillars in the fort of Duntrileague in Limerick,* and 
of the " lowly fort in which is a little well."t Grimspound, on Dartmoor, 
has a well in its rampart. Chun Castle stone fort in Cornwall has one in 
its garth ; and Berry Hill fort, near Winterbourne, not very far from 
Bristol, has a well inside. In Ireland, Cahercrovdearg, Kerry, has an 
undoubted holy well with a rude altar and stations ; while Cahermackerrila, 
in Killeany parish, Clare, is said to enclose another well dedicated to St. 
Colman Mac Duach. We do not recall other examples in the fort-abound- 
ing districts along the Atlantic, but a few inland raths have springs in their 
fosses or in the outer rings. 

60. Places of Assembly. — Both in Scotland and Ireland, as was to be 
expected, assemblies were held at or in forts. This was especially the 
case with the motes, and is maintained to this day at the Tyndwall in the 
Isle of Man. Most unfortunately the ancient Thingmote of the Norsemen 
of Dublin (which stood between St. Andrew's Church and Trinity College, 
on the site occupied by a block of houses) was levelled to fill up the lower 
edge of the College Park when the present Nassau-street was made. The 
Thingmote was a large terraced mound, apparently without a fosse. At 
Greenmount mote in Louth, and several motes in Wicklow and 
Wexford, similar traditions of assembly or " jDarliament " exist. The 
mote of Magh Adhair was the actual mound used for the inauguration 
of the Dalcassian Kings and as such was used down to the reign of 
Elizabeth. In it we apparently find a good example of the sepulchral 
mound becoming the place of an assembly or fair, and thence for its 
publicity becoming the place of installation for the local kings. Professor 

* " Silva Gadelica," vol. ii., p. 130, " a good caher, in the midst was a well." 
t Cormac's " Glossary" (Ed. W. Stokes), p. liii. 

Wksteopp — The Ancient Forts of Ireland. 101 

Sullivan cites a case of a king using a sepulchral mound as a place 
of council.* The " Annals of Ulster," in a.d. 803, tell how " the senators 
of the Qi Neill met in Dun Cuair." 

The place of inauguration of Hy Fiachra Aidne, in southern Galway, 
consisted of a stone fort enclosing a venerated birch tree, the 
" Rovehagh." It was destroyed, as already related, in 1143, but has 
left its name to our davs. 

61. The Question of the Heights of the Forts above the Sea.— 
This has, perhaps, been made too weighty a question. On our mild 
western coast, a fort on the sheltered side of a mountain, 1000 feet above 
the sea, would have been a more comfortable, if not also a safer and 
healthier, residence than on a bleak inland plain or a stormy valley ; and 
how a valley can concentrate a fierce and bitter storm into an intensity 
unknown even on the plateaux above it, those best can know who have 
worked in the field as well as in the study. The following are the heights 
of a few of our most loftily-seated forts: — Mac Art's fort, Antrim, 1181 
feet above the sea; Caherconree, on Slieve Mish, Kerry, 2050 feet; 
Aghaglinny, near Black Head, Clare, 1045 feet; Rathcoran, Wicklow, 
1256 feet; Cuchullin's House, Kerry, about 1700 f ee't ; Caherbla, Kerry, 
about 1926 feet. At Fahan and in the Burren, the forts and clochauns 
seldom lie farther up the hillsides than 700 or 800 feet. 

62. Forts lie across the Country in line with each other. — Many ex- 
amples might be given in Ireland, and some in Scotland and Hungary ; but 
we need only consider the very striking cross-lines of forts near Kilfenora, 
Clare— the one begins at Caherkyletaan, running southward through Caher- 
cuttine, a dolmen, Caherawalsh, Cahernaspekee, a nameless square "moher," 
and the fort of Ballyganner south, to the great dolmen on the hill above 
Bally ganner Castle. The cross-line commences at the " moher," above 
the wall-circled dolmen in Ballyganner north, and passes through Caher- 
aneden, a ring-wall with a slab-hut, Cahernaspekee and the lesser and 
greater cahers of Ballykinvarga, to the prominent hill fort of Doon. 

* " Manners and Customs of the Ancient Irish," p. 638. 

102 Westropp — The Ancient Forts of Ireland. 

63. The occurrence of Forts close to Dolmens, Pillars, and Circles, is 
a very equivocal fact. Whether one of them, or, if so, which object, was 
first constructed is hard to say. In some cases we may presume that the 
pillars and smaller cists and cairns were later than the fort ; but the 
comparative ages have yet to be fixed.* 

64. Selection of a Sloping Site for a Fort. — This was recognised 
by the ancient Irish in such names as Claen rath, and is a phenomenon 
of very common occurrence among both Irish and Scotch forts. The 
selection, apart from questions of drainage, may have arisen from a 
wish to secure a situation at once lifted above the mists of the plain, and 
yet sheltered from some prevailing wind, which would have been violent 
on the more level summit. Strange to say. however, the garth is not as a 
rule " terraced-up " to a level, as could very easily have been done ; but a 
similar carelessness of an uneven garth appears in many cahers whose 
interior has rough outcrops of rock, and is often more uneven than the 
fields outside the walls. 

VI. — Distribution of Types. 

This section is intended to describe briefly the distribution of various 
kinds of forts in Ireland with typical examples of each kind. In order to 
minimise the risk of losing sight of the common type by only studying 
the more remarkable forts, it is endeavoured to collect examples from 
various districts. Reference is also made to any full descriptions already 
published. A few of the districts in which the stone forts exceptionally 
abound are described as groups ; but of course there are many other parts 
of the country, as, for example, the Curragh of Kildare, where the less 
interesting earth-forts are equally abundant, and we cannot refrain from 
mention of one group in Tipperary. 

65. Groups. — Corcaguiny. Kerry (Ordnance Survey Maps, six inches to 
one mile. Kerry, Sheets Nos. 33, 34, 42, 43, 52, 54).— Without doubt, the 
most important group in Ireland of 210 forts, 56 gallauns, Ogham pillars, 

* Noteworthy groups of forts, pillars, and dolmens occur, as for example : at Feenagh, 
Leitrim ; Deerpark, SUgo ; Ballyganner, Cluru ; and Itallynabortagh, Cork. 

Westropp — The Ancient Forts of Ireland. 103 

509 clochauns, souterrains, and promontory forts, besides 15 churches and 
3 castles, lies in the barony of Corcaguiny, at the end of that great 
peninsula, and to the west of a line from Miuard Head to Brandon 
Head. The beauty of the surroundings and interest to naturalists, 
botanists, and geologists add to its attractions ; and yet, as a " pleasure 
resort " of the first-class for scientific people it is known to compara- 
tively few. It is to be regretted that, by the imprudence of tourists, 
the younger population of tlie Fahan townlands (as in Inishere and 
elsewhere), is deteriorating into what must soon prove to be very little 
better than a band of persecutors, to the great annoyance of visitors to 
that group of ruins. Elsewhere the peasantry usually retain their old 
courtesy, kindness, and self-respect. The district covers about twelve 
by seven miles. 

The Coreaguiny group may be divided into sub-districts. Only one group has been successfully 
worked out by the industry of the late John Windele, George DuNoyer, and Mr. R. A. S. 
Maoalister. This is the Fahan group of 460 remains, including the important ring-forts of 
Caherconor, Cahernuadh, Cahernamairtineach, and 27 others, the promontory forts of Doonbeg 
and Doonmore, 414 clochauns, 18 pillars, and 2 Ogham inscriptions, besides, doubtless, some 
other antiquities as yet unrecorded. 

The Smerwich group, round the pictui-esque bay of that name, comprises some 33 forts, 1 1 
clochauns, 12 gallauns, and the probable remains of a promontory fort at Doon Point, now occupied 
by Ferriter's Castle. Among the forts are included the two called Cahcrdorgan, the two called 
Cahernagat, and those of Ulligadi-evil and Eahinnane ; the latter occupied by a late castle, and 
figuring in the legend of " the Battle of Ventry." 

The BallyheaboiigU group, some 51 forts, 49 clochauns, and 18 gallauns; some of unusual interest. 
The Ventry and Dingle shore groups, 49 forts, including the great ringed cliil fort of Doon, on a 
headland of the small peninsula south of Dingle bay (it encloses a giant's grave) ; also a 
dolmen, 6 gaUauns, and the extensive group of Ogham monuments in the fuchsia-planted fort of 

The Bally navenooragh group, on the western slopes of Mount Brandon, some 9 forts, 24 cloghauns, 
2 calluraghs. 

From Minard Head to BulVs Head and Anascaul, some 40 forts, 1 1 cloghauns, and 7 gallauns. 

66. The South Burren Group, Clare (0. S. Maps, Nos. 5, 9, 10, 16, 17).— 
Inferior to Corcaguiny alone, stands the great group of prehistoric remains 
on the limestone slopes of Burren. The chief group extends, roughly 
speaking, as an isosceles triangle, with a base of six miles and a height 
of seven, from Kilfenora and Leanna to the hill above Ballyallaban. It 

104 Westropp — The Ancient Forts of Ireland. 

comprises in all 189 forts, 3 tumuli, 3 large cairns, 47 dolmens, 3 pillars, 
6 churches, 4 castles, and smaller cairns and hut-sites innumerable, and 
has been described (though much is briefly and imperfectly treated) by the 
author of this paper.* 

It, too, can be classed into lesser groups, though by a some-what arbitrary division, as there is 
no absolutely isolated collection of ruius anywhere in the main dish'ict. Kilfenora-Ballyganner 
group with the important cahers of Bally kinvai'ga, Caherlahertagh, Caherminane, Ballyshanny, 
two in Ballyganiier North, one with a small ring- wall, which once was of unusual height, the 
other encloses a dolmen partly embedded in its wall. The fine fort of Cahercuttine, Caherwalsh, 
Caherkyletaan, Cahernaspekee, and thirty-eight others, ten dolmens, several souterrains and 
countless eaims, three of some size, hut-sites, slab-huts, a rock-eut road, etc., etc. 

The district from Lemancagh to Kilcomey, with Cahermore, Sheshy, Caheraclarig, and sixteen 
other forts, and two dolmens. The Slievenaglaslia group (from Parknabinnia to Castletown and 
Cappaghkennedy) with the forts of Cahermore-Roughan, Cahennore-Glenquin, the great triple 
fort of Cahercommaun, the rock-fort of Cashlaun Gar, Mohemacartan, Knockans Fort, the 
lake fort of Cahersavaim, and thirty-six others, two great cairns and many lesser ones, seventeen 
dolmens and a tumulus. The group of Eanty, Potdacarran and the plateau of Commons with 
the forts of Poulacarran, Poulcaragharush, Cahermacnole (Cahermacldrilla), Cahergrillaun, 
Moheramoylan and forty-six others, two tumuli, four dolmens, three pillai's, and niunerous catms. 

The Kilcorney and Glensleade group, with the forts of Caherconnell, Cragballyconoal, Caher- 
cashlaun and Caheranardurrish and forty-four others, eight dolmens, the cairn of Poulawack, and 
many other lesser cairns. The Gleninshen and BuUyallahan group with the fort of Cahermore- 
BaUyallaban, and six others, five dolmens, and uncounted cairns. 

67. Lough Hackett Group ^ Galway (O. S., Nos. 42, 53, 56). — The great 
group to the north-east of Lough Corrib covers a district 7 by 14 miles in 
extent. It lies round Lough Hackett, the ancient Lough Cime, connected 
traditionally with Cimbe Cetharcenn, one of the sons of Huamore. It is 
as yet undescribed, save Cahergel. It consists of ninety-one foi'ts and 
numerous other remains. 

It contains Caherman, a triple fort, Cahernaheeny, Caherachoola, Caherconnaught, Cahermore, 
Caherlustraun, Caherkeeny, Cahergortmore, Cahereenard, Caherduff, CaherbaUycolgan, Caherbo- 
hercuUl, Cahii'ebrick, Carheenard, Caherabeg, Lisheenacama, Caherhugh, Cashlaunfeekul, Caher- 

* Journal U.S.A. I., xxvi., 1896, pp. 142, 363; xxvii., 1897, p. 116; xxviii., 1898, p. 353; 
xxix., 1899, p. 367; xxx., 1900, p. 400; xxxi., 1901, pp. 1, 273. Proceedings R.I. A., vol. v., 
ser. iii., p. 544. 

Westropp — The Ancient Forts of Ireland. 105 

biggora, Cahermoneonkirka, Lisnabrock, Cahermacanally. Southward, towards Lough Corrib, lie 
Cahemagat, Cahermon-is, Lisheen, Caheranairgid, Caheranorc, C'aheranane, Caherhughy, a 
large fort with high ivied walls ; and further westward, Milla fort, Cahergel, a fine stone fort 
with steps, &c. (section 93, infra), Cahernadane and the fortified island of Illaunacarbry. 

68. The Dunkellin Group, Galioaij (0. S., Nos. 83-85, 96-98, 103, 
104, 113).— The district is about 10 miles by 7 miles in extent, and lies at 
the eastern end of Gal way Bay from Oranmore to Craughwell, and south- 
ward to Ardrahan and Finvarra. It is connected traditionally with Taman 
and Beara, the sons of Huamore, and possesses over 50 cahers, beside other 
remains. The district of Roevehagh contained a venerated birch tree and 
was a place of inauguration. The forts of Caheradrineen,* Cahercugeola, 
and a neighbouring fort have been described ; it may be remembered that 
in the Caher of Knockgarranebane were found stone-moulds for casting 
two-looped bronze spears. Caherpeak is a large fort enclosing a church. 

It includes Caherroe, CaheraciiUin, Caheradrine, Cahernalee, Caherfinesker or Cahermore, 
Carheenascovoge, Cahercrin, Caheraphuca, Caherlisdacus, Carheenadiveane, Caherfiu'vaus, Cahcr- 
caltragh, Cahernanoole, Caher, Cahcrybrogan, Cahermore, Caherbeg, Cahershanbacky, Cuheraloggy, 
Cahei-more, near Eoevehagh, Lachtloughlin fort, Caherlissagunna, Caherbeg, Caherpheepa, 
Cahergorman, Caheririllaun, Caherweelter, Caheryrory, Cahercuildoish, Cahergalloon, Cahershaney- 
kelly, Cahernalinsky, Caherateigc, Caherdaly, and the large earth-fort of Rathmonissy. 

69. The Aranmore Group, Galway (0. S., Nos. 110, 119).— The group 
in the North Isle of Aran, though numerically small, is of great import- 
ance, and was of still greater value to archaeology in recent memory, but 
within the last quarter of a century the defacement of the village ruins 
at lararna and Ballynasean, and the rebuilding of so much of the 
interiors and tops of several of the cahers not a little diminished the value 
of many of the remains. It possessed 9 cahers, 2 dolmens (at least), about 
50 clochauns, with pillars and other remains, beside two castles, a round 
tower, twelve churches, and two high crosses. 

It comprises the great forts of Dun Aenghus, Muirbheach Mil, Dun Onacut, Dun Oghil, Dubh 
Cathair, four defaced cahers near Dun Oghil and Cowroogh, besides other remains. 

* Caheradrine on maps, see section 95, inj'ra. 


106 Westropp — The Ancient Forts of Ireland. 

70. The Cooleagh Group, Tipperary (0. S., 62). — This is as yet unde- 
scribed, and we may ho^ie that ere long this omission may be made 
good by local archaeologists, who would find in Cooleagh and the district 
near Cash el a subject for several valuable papers. 

It consists of tkree small ring-forts and a curious village site in Mortlestown Castle demesne ; 
a straight-sided fort named Lismortlagh, a rath, a rath in an in-egular straight- sided enclosure ; 
a four-ringed-fort with a bastion at the enti'ance ; two douhle-ringed-forts in Grangeharry, eight 
lesser ring-forts in Coolbaun and Cooleagh ; near one is a " diamond " fort, and close to it a 
double-ringed-fort 350 feet across, with curious enclosures adjoining it. A large fort 550 feet by 
500 feet in Shanakyle, and two ling-forts. Three double-iinged-forts and ancient roads in 
St. Johnstown and Higginstown. 

As for the distribution of the various t3'pes of forts we may briefly note 
that the ring-forts abound all over the country and do not seem to have any 
marked racial peculiarities or bearing. The square forts, though much less 
plentiful, are equally widely distributed ; they seem to be most abundant in 
county Wexford. The promontory forts abound all round the coast 
wherever the builder could find a suitable headland : in many cases they 
have been nearly defaced, and the name Doon often attaches to heads 
where no trace is now discoverable. The motes, whether simple or complex, 
are most plentiful in the eastern half of Ireland, and few are found in 
Munster or beyond the Shannon and Lagan. The rock-forts and walled 
islands are only varieties of the ring-fort, and are practically confined to the 
northern and western coast counties. Long entreuclimeuts occur chiefly in 
Ulster, those in Munster not being well mai-ked. 

The succeeding notes are to be understood as rather forming an excursus 
or appendix, not being in the least degree intended to supply full descrip- 
tions, but rather to bring together the more instructive facts about the 
structures, and to supply a partial bibliography of the forts. 

Ring Forts. — Royal Residences : — 

71. Emania, Armagh (0. S., Ko. 12). — Chief in importance among the royal residences of the 
old Ii-ish mythology and legend stands Emauia. The great Tltonian rath lies on a hill slope not 
far to the west of the Axchiepiscopal city of Armagh. The legend of how Queen Macha marked 
out its plan with her broach and its connexion with the heroes of the Red Branch (still recalled by 




Fig. 19.— typical IRISH FORTS. 

108 Westropp — The Ancient Forts of Ireland. 

the townland name of Creeveroe, near it) are well-known. It was devastated in a.d. 322 in the 
"Wars of the Collas. The ancient name has ever since clung to the site, " Emhain of the Fairs " 
in the Annals in a.d. 898, and (as Bishop Reeves has shown from various Latin and Irish docu- 
ments) Hewynna 1374, Eawayn 1524, Eawyn 1609, and "The Navan fort," its present name, 
1633. It is possible that it is the more northern " Rigia" of Ptolemy," the word being possibly 
connected with the term " Eamhain of Kings." 

It was probably at one time a stone fort, for the Calendar of Oengus, when contrasting the fates 
of the pious and theu- cities with those of " the Princes of the world that have come to nought," 
records that — "Eman's burgh has perished save that the stones remain."* It is not wonder- 
ful that no trace of the stonework exists in our day for, in 1 145, " a limekiln, 60 feet every way, 
was erected opposite Eamhain Maohaby Patrick's successor." The eastern segment and one of the 
inner forts were levelled even since the date of the first Ordnance Sm'vey maps. 

The fort consists of a great earthwork forming an irregular circle 850 feet across, perhaps 
at one time consisting of two mounds. Within the garth were a mote and fort, the latter 
remains — an oval rath on the higher slope. Descriptions — "Ancient Churches of Armagh," 
Dr. (afterwards Bishop) "W. Reeves (1860). Journal R.S.A.I., vol. xvi., 1884, p. '^09.— Revue 
CeUique, vol. xviii. Emania, M. D'Arbois de Jubainvillc, fi-om notes by Rev. Maxwell Close. 
View, plan and section. See figure 19, supra. 

72. Tara, Meath (0. S., No. 31, 37). — This deeply interesting group of forts, the residence 
of the Ardi'ighs of Ireland, subsisted from prehistoric times as a most important social and political 
centre. Having been cursed by Ruadhan of Lorrha in consequence of a quarrel with King Deimot, 
it became deserted on the death of that monarch a.d. 567. The Dindsenchas gives elaborate de- 
scriptions of the names and positions of the various forts, wells, and monuments. The whole having 
been treated at great length in the Transactions of the Royal Irish Academy, we must confine 
ourselves to brief notes of the existing remains alone. Cathair Crofinn or Rath na Riogh, a large, 
nearly oval earthwork 853 feet across, but much levelled, consisting of a fosse and mound ; inside 
it are two conjoined high raths, the Forradh, 276 feet in diameter and Teach Cormaic, 244 feet 
in diameter. Towards the northern segment of the great enclosm-e were two tumuli, the Dumha 
na nGiall and the Dumha na mBo ; the former was crowned by the pillar-stone now set on the 
Forradh. Rath Laoghaire, the latest of the forts, and dating from the first half of the fifth 
century, is a largo defaced ring on the hill slope south of Cahercrofinn. It was made by the 
Ardrigh Laoghaii-e, son of Niall of the Nine Hostages, and is 300 feet in diameter. Its builder 
was buried in its rampart to the south. A triple ringed, circulai-, low fort, the "King's Chair," or 
the " Rath of the Synods," lies to the north ; it has been recklessly out into and defaced in the ill- 
eonceived search for the "Ark of the Covenant" (1899). Nothing was found but animals' bones, 
rusted iron, and one burial; the trenches were cut into the rock. There were two tumuli towards 
the N.W., and Teach Mairiseo (built in the 3rd century by the Ardi-igh Cormac Mac Au't) to the 
S.'V^''., but they are now entirely defaced, though traces of the tumuli were extant when the first 
Ordnance Siu-vey took place. The Protestant Church stands in another rath ; near it is a sand- 

' Calendar of Oengus." Ed. "W. Stokes, p. 18. 

Westropp — The Ancient Forts of Ireland. 109 

stone pillar Trith a sheelanagig cut in relief. Teach Miodtchuarta, the banquetting hall, lies 
down the northern slope. The great side mounds remain with foiu-teen entrances, and enclose a 
space 760 feet long and 46 feet wide. To the west lies another group of raths, the northern, 
Eathgrania, lies on the steep edge of the hill, its deep fosse dipping boldly down the slope ; it is 
260 feet in diameter. Close to it, on the south and east, are two more forts, Fothath Eatha 
Graine and Eathcaelchon ; the latter is a commonplace rath with a fosse and mound, and is 
220 feet in diameter. The well of Laoc lay near Eathgrania and is stopped, but the site is 
known ; the same remark applies to the well Laegh. The well Neamhneach is still flowing down 
the slope to the east of Cahercrofinn. 

The large group of forts down the northern slope has perished ; it included Treduma Nesi 
and the Eaths of Conor MacFessa and Cuchullin, the monument over the latter waii-ior's 
head and neck and many other remains. Descriptions — The standard work is of course 
Dr. Petrie's essay in the Transactions of the Eoyal Irish Academy, vol. svii. Some smaller 
additions appear in a paper by Eev. Denis Mui-phy and T. J. "Westropp in the Journal E.S.A.I. 
(xxiv.), 1894, p. 232. No scientific account of the recent unfortunate excavations has as yet 
been published. See figure 19, supra. 

73. Rathcroghan, Roscommon (0. S., No. 22). — The palace of Ailill and ilaeve, which figm-es 
conspicuously in the legend of the Tain bo Cuailgne. "Were it not for this fact the remains of the 
forts would have attracted but little notice. Eathcroghan itself is a large, flat-topped, earthen 
fort (225 feet by 170 feet, and 995 feet round the base ; it is 35 feet high). It has no fosse, and 
still preserves it sancient name. O'Donovan, in his notes for the Ordnance Survey, 1837, thinks 
that it had formerly an outer circumvallation. A large prostrate pillar 9 feet by 2^ inches by 
2 feet 2i inches called Misgaun Meva, and another large block called Milleen Meva preserve the 
memoiy of the Amazonian Queen, and lie to the N."W. and N.E. of the rath. 

There are five other forts scattered around it, Eathnascreg, Eathmore, Eathnadarv and two 
others. Fui'therto the south are Cahernabavalady (the caher of the feasting party), the grave of 
Ceat Mac Magach, and the remarkable bui-ial-places and souterrains of KJnockaunagoi-p ; the Cair- 
the dhearg, or red sandstone pillar of the Ardrigh Dathi (died a.d. 428), a stone 6 feet high and 
from 5 feet to 2 feet 8 inches wide ;* Eelig na ree and Owneynagat. The Ogham inscription 
"Fhaicci M£DFri,"or, "Feaicci Mengfi," formerly attributed to a son of Queen Maeve, was 
found on a roof support of the latter souterrain. The " cave" exists in the remains of an ancient 
tumulus 50 feet or 60 feet in diameter ; there are fallen cists. There ai-e slight traces of the 
Cashel of Mannanan, three-quarters of a mile to the S.W. of Eathcroghan. The Eelig na Eee 
is an irregular ring enelosui-e, with stone facing, 800 yards south of the rath, 336 feet in 
diameter: touching its northern segment is a smaU circular enclosure 100 feet in diameter; 
another low wall crosses the Eelig, and there is a " cave " in its garth. Description — Eelig na 
Eee and Dathi's Pillar are figured and described by Sir Samuel Ferguson, Proceedings E.I. A., 
vol. i., Series ii., p. 114. The Eath, by E. E. Brash "Ogham Inscribed Monuments," chapter 
xiii., p. 299. 

See supra, section 44. 


Westropp — The Ancient Forts of Ireland. 

74. Umach, IVestmeafh (0. S., No. 24). —A remarkable hill-towu, four- miles north-west 
from Castletown railway station. The hill is grassy, and has two low summits ; an ancient road 
led lip the southern slope to the enclosures. The cemetery is an irregular circular earthwork, 
250 feet across, with a lesser enclosure, 180 feet across, to the west. The main division (like the 
Relig na ree at Ruthcroghan) has five enclosures, with tumuli and chambers. A " cave " and 
other collapsed chambers remain in the western division. The "Cat Stone" (a singular and 
cromlech-like group of stones, but probably a natural out-crop of rock) and an enclosure of stones 
set on edge, called " St. Patrick's bed," lie near the fort. TJsnach is attributed to Tuathal 
Techtmar, c. a.d. 80. Description — Sii- Samuel Ferguson, in Proceedings R.I.A., vol. i.. Second 
Series, p. 140. 

75. Kincora, Clare (0. S., No. 36). — Only two forts remain to represent the dwellings of 
the early Dalcassian princes near Killaloe. G-rianan Lachtna occupies a noble position on a 
shordder of Craglea overlooking the lower end of Lough Derg, the Shannon, and Silver-Mine hills, 





f i". 20. — Usnacli, Westmealh. 

to Slieve Kimalta, the Keeper Hill. It is an oval fort, 134 feet to 116 feet in diameter, with 
a fosse, 17 feet wide, and an earthwork. In the centre rises an oblong heap of stones, 80 feet by 
50 feet. The fort was built by Lachtna (great-gi'andfather of Brian Boru, circa, a.d. 840).* 
Beal Boru derived its name from the ford " Bcal atha Boroimhe," or "Borama." Mahon, 
King of Munster (brother of Brian), is called "fiery King of Boroimhe"; and it is most 
probable that from it, and not from the alleged re-imposition of the Leinster tribute, that Brian 
received his surname. The >rt is a high earthwork, 20 feet high, with ramparts and a fosse, 
now nearly filled up ; it measures 380 feet round the top, and 650 feet round the base. It is dug 

* See its history from ancient MSS. in the " Book of Munster," in Journal E.S.A.I., vol. .\xii. 
(1892), p. 892, and " Story of an Irish Sept," by Dr. Nottidge Macnamara, p. 74. 

WicsTROPP — The Ancient Forts of Ireland. Ill 

at the end of a natui'al spur, near the Shannon, at the end of Lougli Derg. Kincora lay at the 
head of the weir and bridge of Killaloe, probably where the chapel stands. It was entirely 
destroyed in 1118, and its timber and stone- work thi-own into the river; but it was again rebuilt. 
It had stone enclosures and a well with two salmon in it. Bescription — T. J. "Westropp, Journal 
R. 8. A. I., xxii. (1892), pp. 191-193. 

76. Grianan Aileach, Donegal (0. S., No. 47) — A strong fort on a hill,* commanding a fine 
view over Lough Swilly. There are remains of foiu- ramparts, but it once possessed five, accord- 
ing to the " Book of Lccan " (p. 255) :— " Dim, to which led horse-roads through five ramparts." 
The innermost enclosure is a dry stone wall, largely rebuilt by Dr. Bernard ; but he carefully 
preserved and marked the limit of all the ancient work. As it existed, when Petrie described it 
for the Ordnance Survey, it consisted of a strong ring-wall, 6 feet high, enclosing a nearly circular 
garth, 77 feet 6 inches across. The wall was 15 feet thick at the base. There was a gateway to 
the south ; the lintels had fallen ; the sides were of coursed masonry, less worn than the outer 
facing of the rampart ; the opening was 6 feet 7 inches high, and from 3 feet 10 inches to 3 feet 
1 inch wide. Inside the wall, to the right hand as one entered the fort, were considerable 
remains of the lowest ten-ace and a wedge-like flight of steps, widening upward in the face of 
the wall, and 2 feet 6 inches at the widest. Farther to the right was the entrance to a long 
passage in the wall, like the passages in certain forts at Fahan, Kerry; beyond this was a double 
flight of steps. Another double flight and the entrance to another passage in the wall lay to the 
left of the gateway, and, farther roimd, there was another flight of steps. The rampart had a 
batter of 1 in 6, and there was a dr-ain under it to the north, and remains of a midden and of a 
late mortar-built foundation in the garth. The whole was nearly buiied in the fallen stones. 
The fort makes some flgure in pre-historio tradition, and was an important residence of the local 
princes ; it was deserted a.d. 675, despite of which it was fui-ther ruined by Mui-chad O'Brien 
titular King of Ireland, in 1102. Bescriptions—Iir. Qeovge Petrie, "Parish of Templemore 
Ordnance Sm-vey of the County of Londondeny " (1837), vol. i., pp. 214, &c. ; Richard Eolt 
Brash, " Ecclesiastical Architectui-e of Ireland," p. 4 ; Dr. Walter Bernard, Proceedings 
R. I. A., vol. i., series ii. (1879), p. 415. Plans in all, and illustrations in the fii-st. 

The Largest Ring Forts : — 

A large structure seldom fails to be an exceptional one, for reasons 
apart from that of mere size, so much so, that the tendency to give such 
works a prominent place in all descriptions, though natural, frequently 
gives a most misleading impression of the characteristic types prevailing 
in the country. For convenience of reference we have collected the largest 
of our Irish forts in this section. Although there is nothing abnormal in 
the large raths of Dun Ailinn, Cashel, and Rathcoran, still Dorsey, 

* Figure 21, infra. The reference letters are : u entrance, I passages, c steps, d drain. 

112 Westropp — The Ancient Forts of Ireland. 

Moghaue, Langough, and Dun Aenghus demand exceptional attention 
in these notes. 

77. Borsey Dmi, Armagh (0. S., No. 59). — A large and remarkable ring earthwork, of 
iiTegxilar plan, in the barony of Upper Fews. It measirres about a mile fi'om east to west, and 
600 yai'ds across. The west end is nearly semicircular ; the north-east forms nearly a right 
angle. The fortifications consist of an earthwork, with deep fosses on each side and lesser mounds 
outside. The site is intersected by two streams, and, in the marshy parts, the rampart rested on 
piling, as in the earthworks of northern Germany and the fort of Diingorkin.* To the west side 
of the marsh, in the centi'e of the Dun, are two small knolls of rock, fortified with diy-stone ling- 
walls, and to the south-west, inside the earthworks, on a rising gi'ound, is a stone pillar, "the 
white stone of Calliagh Beri," Description — Rev. "W. H. Lett, Journal E. S. A. I., xxvni. 
(1898), pp. 1-14. Plan, sections, and illustrations. See figm-e 21, itifra. 

78. Bun Ailinn, Kildare (0. S., No. 21). — A large but injiu'ed earthen ring-fort on a hill, 
about 500 feet high, near Kilcullen. The fortification consists of a fosse and earthwork faced 
with small stones in some places; it measures about 1600 feet north and south, and 1350 feet 
east and west, enclosing a well, dedicated to St. John, in the north-west segment. The summit 
of the hill was capped with a small low fort and oblong enclosure about 100 feet in diameter. 
The A. P.M., A.D. 904, quote a poem which names Almhain and Aillinn as separate places ; so the 
the latter is not the legendary palace of Finn. See figure 19, supra. 

79. Moghane, Caher, Clare (0. S., No. 42). — A large triple stone fort, possibly the Cathyr- 
nachyne of De Clare's rental, 1287, and Cahcrmoghna, 1655. The fort and hill are shown in two 
Elizabethan maps in the Hardiman Collection.! [Like Dun Ailinn, it girds a gently rising 
ground, 263 feet high, and commanding a view over the estuaiy of the Fergus and the plains of 
Clare, to Bm-ron and Aughty. The three walls are nearly entirely overthi'own, and amount to 
7850 feet long, enclosing about 27 acres. The central ring-wall is 350 to 380 feet in diameter, 
and was from 17 to 21 feet thick, J with entrances to the east and west. The second is 650 feet 
across, and embodies a better preserved circidar fort, 100 feet in diameter in its southern segment. 
The outer wall conf onus to the steepest faces of the hill, enclosing a space over 1 500 feet north 
and south, and 1 100 feet east and west. It also embodies a cu'cular fort to the west. There are 
traces of radiating walls and circular enclosures between the middle and outer ramparts. Two 
defaced oval cahers and the complex caher of Langough lie at no great distance from the walls. 
Bescription — T. J. "Westropp, Jom-nal R. S. A. I., xxiu. (1893), p. 281, and Proceedings R. I. A., 
vol. VI., series iii., p. 440. Plans. See figure 19, swpra. 

* The piling at both Dungorkin and Dorsey had cross beams and mortices. On the plan, 
A. D, E, G show the rampart, B piling, C the pillar of CalHagh Beri, F Stone forts. 

t MSS., Trinity CoUege, DubUn. 

\ The faces are exposed by the removal of the debris, and in the outer wall, to the west, 
where the foundations are laid bare, they are headers with small filling. 


_ Hi \v^ \vv \X\v 

Fig. 21.— typical IRISH FORTS. 

114 Westropp — The Ancient Forts of Ireland. 

80. Rathcoran, WicMow (0. S., No. 27).— This fine earthwork girds a lofty hill, 1256 feet 
high, overlooking Baltinglass. It consists of a small circular fort on the very summit, and a large 
irregular ring of two mounds and a fosse about 80 feet lower, and running nearly on a level 
(1181 to 1187 feet) round the lull. This encloses a space, 1400 feet north and south, and 900 feet 
east and west. In the upper fort is a kistvaen, or " cave," which, when opened, contained pottery 
and human bones. The upper fort is reduced to a cairn-like heap of stones. 

Near this rath, on a slope to the north lies Eathnageee, another large fort of two ring mounds, 
the inner 400 feet in diameter, and the outer 600 feet ; in it, eai-ly in the late century, was found 
a hoard of golden coins.* 

81. Bun Aenghcs, Aran Islands, Galway (0. S., No. 110.) — This well-known fortf lies on the 
summit of a hUl and edge of a precipitous sea-cliff 300 feet high. It was known as Dun Inees in 1 839. 
It is the only identified fortress, named in. the legend of the Huamorian Firbolgs, in connexion with 
the chieftaia Aenghus. It has been assumed that (like Moghane) it consisted of thi-ee rings, but 
it is equally probable (as already pointed out) that it rather resembled certain inland forts by 
having a ring- wall in the centre and crescent-walls outside, abutting on the cliff. Of the central 
fort only a crescent-ring remains 150 feet in diameter, the wall 12 feet 9 inches thick, and 18 feet 
high. It was bmlt in three sections, the outer in parts rose 7 feet above the inner, forming a sort 
of walled path. This remained in 1839, but had disappeared in 1878, portions of the outer facing 
having by that time fallen displaying the face of the inner layer. To the south-east is a perfect 
gateway, with bmlt sides and heavy lintel, rising. Like reversed steps, inward. The ope is over 
6 feet high, or only 5 feet 3 inches if we subtract the "step lintel," and 3 feet 4 inches to 
3 feet 5 inches wide, as the jambs slightly incline ; beside it are upright joints. The second 
wall is less regular in plan ; the enclosure now measui-es over all 400 feet east and west, 
and 300 north and south. It has a gate to the north-east and a sort of bastion to the 
north-west. Outside this is a remarkable abattis of pillar-stones 3 or 4 feet high over a 
space 30 feet to 60 feet wide; the tops are channelled with age, and they are set "slope- 
wise " in the ground ; many have fallen. The third, and outer wall, is thin and of irregular plan, 
manifestly an afterthought later than the abattis. Its enclosui'c measures over all 1174 feet east 
and west, and 650 feet north and south. The whole fort underwent extensive and in parts injui-ious 
repair during its conservation as a "National Monument " in 1881, and many of the flights of steps 
date from that time. iJ^cnjaf/ows— Roderic O'Flahcrty (1686), " Ogygia," p. 75, and " H-Iar 
Connaught," p. 76. C. C. Babbington, " Fii-bolg forts on the South Isles of Aran," Archfeologia 
Cambrensis, 1858. Lord Duni-aven, "Notes on Irish Architecture," vol. i., p. 1. Dr. CoUey 
March, "The Age of Dun Aenghus," Society of Antiquaries (London), 1894. T. J. Westropp, 
Journal R.S.A.I., vol. xxv. (1895), p. 256. 

82. Cashel, Cork (0. S., No. 96). — This fort lies in the townland of Clashinimid. It is a fine 
fort, measuring 1140 feet east and west, and 900 feet north and south, and has an inner oval ring- 
wall about 850 feet north and south, and 650 feet cast and west, on a commanding ridge, with a 

' Topographical Dictionary of Ireland," s.v. Baltinglas. f Plates II-III. and fig. 19. 

Westkopp — The Ancient Forts of Ireland. 115 

fine view arouBcl, Six traverses radiate between the rings at regular intervals. Description — 
Richard Caulfield, Gentleman's Magazine, 1865, part i., pp. 707, 710 (Eepiints, Archaeology), 
vol. i., p. 292. 

83. Langough Caher, Clare (0. S., No. 42). — This fort has been already noticed (§ 47, supra) 
for its cmious traces of rebuilding in early times. It appears to have consisted of a ring-wall, 
100 feet in diameter, still extant, on the edge of a low cliff, and a large annexe, garth 600 feet 
by 300 feet, surrounding the remainder of the pear-shaped knoll of rock on which it stands. 
Two long walls ran southward down the slope enclosing a space 400 feet by 300 feet. In 
later times, a second enclosure, crescent-shaped in plan, was made across the pear-shaped 
enclosm'c, and the rest, with the exception of the central ring-wall, was levelled. It measures 
450 feet long and 250 feet wide. The fort lies 500 yards south from Moghanc Caher. 
Descriptions — T. J. Westropp, Joiu-nal R. S.A.I,, vol. xxiii., p. 284, and Proceedings R.I. A., 
vol. vi., ser. iii., p. 442. 

84. Cahersliattghnessy, Clare (0. S., No. 34.) — This ciu-ious fort occupies a low marshy site, 
overhung by a hill, topped with a rath, in whose fosse, on the side next the caher, stands a low 
pillar-stone. The caher has two ring- walls. The inner is 166 feet to 148 feet across the garth ; 
it has a defaced gateway to the north-west; this wall is 12 feet thick, and reduced to 6 feet in 
height, with large facing blocks and filling. In the gai'th are several enclosiu'es and hut-sites, 
with the foundation of an oblong, di'y-stonebuilding. The outer ring is not concentric ; it 
measures 567 feet over all, and several radiating "traverses" cross its area. Descriptions — 
Arthur Gethin Creagh and H. B. Harris, with plans and drawings by T, J. Westropp, Joui'nal 
R.S.A.I., vol. xxiii., p. 287. Proceedings R.I. A., vol. vi., ser. iii., p. 438. 

85. Other large Forts. — Tlw Giants^ Ring, Down (given below), Cahermore, Eilskeagh, Galway 
(0. S. No. 71), 600 to 650 feet diameter; Batinmore, Cork (15), 750 by 600 feet; Sillagh, 
Kildare (24), 820 feet; Rathgal, WicUo^v (37), two rings, 950 to 1050 feet, and 450 feet. 

Other typical Ring Forts : — 

86. Innisynurray , Sligo (0. S., No. 1.) has been described at considerable length and carefully 
illustrated. It is, roughly speaking, pear-shaped in plan. The wall being from 7 to 15 feet thick 
at the base, from 7 A- feet to 13 feet high, of fine, di'y masonry with V-shaped flights of rude steps, 
and no trace of terraces. The fort is 175 feet to 135 feet across. It has the unusual featiu-e of 
four, or perhaps five, entrances. The north-east is called the water-gate, and from it a covered way 
runs round the inner base of the wall. There are at least two cells in the wall, one circular, one 
oblong. The water-gate is perfect, 6 feet 3 inches high, and from 3 feet 5 inches below to 3 feet 
at top, with a massive Untel. The southern gate, with the wall near it, was entirely built by 
the workmen when it was conserved as a national monument in 1880. The low entrances 
are of a type unusual in forts, though not uncommon in souterrains, the passage rises abruptly 
under a domed cell ; the outer door is 2 feet 8 inches high and 2 feet wide, the jambs being 
inclined. The other entrances are similar in chai-acter, and only differ by a few inches.* They 

* See section 50. 



Westropp — The Ancient Forts of Ireland. 

are about 80 feet or 90 feet apart, and run througt the thickest portion of the wall. The restorers, 
most unhappily, mistook the character of the steps, and built them up into straight-sided niches, 
extending to the summit of the wall. The inner enclosures and early monastic buildings do not 
concern the present paper. The well lies outside, but almost under the wall, and at some distance 
from the gateway. Descriptions— Lord Dunraven, " Notes on Irish Architecture," vol. i., p. 47, 
and Wm. F. Wakeman, in an exceptionally complete and careful description, E.S.A.I., vol. xvii. 
(1885-1886), p. 185. Republished as an "Annual Volume" by same Society. 

87. Giatifs Sconce, Londonderry (0. S. No. 6, but fort is not shown).— A cliff-fort on a 
bold rock above the pass from Dunboe to Lai'gantea, and about 800 feet above the sea. 


Fig. 22. — Principal Gateway, Innismurray, Sligo. 

It is the ancient Dun Ceithern, the"Munitio Cetherni" of Adamnan's " Life of St. Columba," 
near which lay the well which the saint prophesied would be defiled with blood,* which was ful- 
filled in a fierce battle. The rock is difficult of access, save fi'om the south-east, where there is a 
gateway 5 feet wide, and it is fortified by a wall of massive rocks ; the interior has been hollowed, 
and a passage 2 feet wide and 40 feet long constructed thi'ough it to the N.E., with inclined sides, 
and roofed with large slabs. The entrance is 5 feet wide, with rough steps up to it. The ruin 

*Adamnan (Ed. Bishop Reeves), pp. 93-96. The well is to the north-east. 

Westropp — The Ancient Forts of Ireland. 117 

commands a fine view from the Bann nearly to the Giant's Causeway. The rampart was defaced 
about 1808 by people looking for " a cove of money." 

88. Moneygashel " Cashel" Cavern (0. S., No. 4).— Four miles fi-om Black Lion. The fort 
lies on a hill sloping towards the south. It is nearly circular, and 84 feet in diameter, the wall 
being 10 feet thick, and about 8 feet high. Inside four flights of steps remain, two to the east 
and two to the north, in V-shaped pairs.* Only the foundation of the gateway remains ; it was 
3 feet 9 inches wide. On the southern, or lowest side, a drain runs under the wall, 14 inches by 
18 inches. Description — S. F. Milligan, " Ancient forts in County Sligo" (and Cavan), R.S.A.I., 
Journal, vol. xxi., p. 580. Illustration. 

89. Gianfs Ring, Down (0. S. No. 9). — An enormous earthen ring 580 feet in diameter, 
with five gaps ; the ramparts high, and 80 feet thick at the base ; a dolmen lies in the middle. 
Its use was probably sepulchral, and not defensive. It seems to have a trace of a terrace. 
Description — Wm. C. Borlase, " Dolmens of Ireland," vol. i., p. 275. Illustrations. 

90. Caherspeenaun, Mayo (not marked on maps). — A double-ringed caher near Cong. The 
inner garth is 130 feet across, the walls are of small stones, and are 10 feet thick and 6 feet 
high. At a distance of 48 feet from the inner ring are some remains of a second wall, which 
was probably about 250 feet across. When this wall was demolished quern stones and iron 
axes were found built up in it. Similar discoveries were also made in the neighbouring fort 
of Caherbiel on its demolition. Description — Sir "W. "Wilde, " Lough Corrib," pp. 230, 238. 

91. Cashel of Moyne, Mayo (0. S. 123). — There seems reason to believe with Mr. H. T. 
Knox (from whose notes this section is derived) that the Cashel is of much earlier date than the 
foundation of the chm-ch. It is an oval ring-waU, 380 feet east and west, and 330 north and 
south. The wall is 8 feet thick, and high, the outer face being of much larger masonry than the 
inner, but more dilapidated. The church has two pillar-stones near its western end, and opposite 
the present gateway in the Cashel wall. Coffins are always carried between them, and they pro- 
bably represent the gateway of an ancient enclosm'e : there are several foimdations of dividing 
walls apparent in the garth. It lies not far to the north of Headford. 

92. Eilcashel Caher, Mayo (0. S. No. 73). — This fine ring-waU is locally named Coolcashel 
or Coolcastle. It is nearly circular in plan, and measures 100 feet internally ; the top is sodded and 
covered with heath. The masonry is largest to the north-east, and where this ends there is a 
patch of small stone-work as if a breach had been repaired. The rampart is 13 feet wide at the 
base, and 12 feet at the top, much of it being 9 feet high. It is built in two sections, the outer 
7 feet wide, the inner 5 feet. The latter forms a sort of terrace, being slightly lower than the 
outer section. There is a high plinth round the foot of the wall. 

The gateway is well preserved;! the jambs slightly incUne, and the lintel rests on 
corbels. It is 4 feet 9 inches wide, the passage naiTowing to 4 feet in the centre of the 
waU. The inner angles are rounded, and near the right-hand jamb a flight of small steps 
leads up to the waU. 

See section 49, supra. Figure 19. t Kate V. 

118 Westropp — The Ancient Forts of Ireland. 

Opposite the entrance, at the west side, is a small oilset, and two small opes 1 8 feet 9 inches 
apart, and measuring 2 feet 8 inches wide and 1 foot 8 inches high. It is said that they lead to a 
passage " nearly high enough for a man to stand upright in it." This passage extends fi'om the 
southern to a few feet past the northern one. In the south-west side of the garth are two ruined 
souterrains, and there are traces of other enclosures, but not of circular huts.* 

93. Cahergel, Gahcaij (0. S. No. 55). — This fort lies in Killm-sa parish, two miles from 
Lough Corrib. It is a circular ring-wall of large masonry, and 117 feet internal and 137 feet 
external diameter. The wall is from 7 feet 7 inches to 9 feet 4 inches thick, and was from 16 to 
20 feet high when Dr. O'Donoyan visited the place, but is now reduced to half that height for 
the fort was used for a quarry to supply building material for the Headford Barrack. There are 
steps of large blocks projecting from the face of the wall like those of a modem stile. The gate- 
way faced the south-east, and is 7 feet 6 inches wide, with jamb-stones 5 feet 8 inches high, 5 feet 
wide, and 21 inches thick. Descriptions — Sir "W. Wilde, " Lough Corrib," p. 95 ; Lord Dun- 
raven, "Ancient Architecture," i., p. 15. 

94. Bun Conor, Inishere, County Galwaij (0. S. No. 119). — This fort is called the "Down 
of Conquovar" by Eoderick O'Flaherty. It occupies a commanding position overlooking aU the 
island, and visible fi'om the mainland of Galway and Clare. The supposed founder of the fort is 
called Concraid in the poem of Mac Liag. " Concraid obtained his just portion at the sea on 
Inismaan."f The ruin was called Dooncraggadoo when Petrie visited* Aran. J: It measures 
227 feet north and south, and 115 east and west internally, being a long oval fortification on the 
edge of a low ridge 20 feet high above a valley. The wall is in three sections, 18 feet 7 inches 
thick and 20 feet high, with little, if any, batter, and with several upright joints. The gateway 
was 2 feet 5 inches to 3 feet 6 inches, widening inwards ; it is defaced, and lies to the east ; a 
terrace ran round the waU, and, before the unfortunate "restoration" of the fort, presented a 
terrace and several flights of steps. The north flight was steep and ran straight up the platform, 
and thence tiuTied to the right up to the top of the rampart. Another flight lay near to and to 
the right of the gateway ; there were others to the west and south, and some lesser ones, but the 
present interior is greatly altered, and portions rebuilt where, in 1878, it had fallen to such a 
degree as to afford no authority for the modem steps and upper work of the restoration. A 
curious group of huts at the southern end has been partly rebuilt, but on the old foundations. 
A crescent enclosure adjoius the central caher, looping into its wall to the north-west and south- 
west, and being about 100 feet out from it at its farthest point to the south-east. Another 
bastion of unusual plan projects from the second wall at about 50 feet from the main gate of the 
inner fort; it measures 51 feet by 73 feet, and has external and internal gateways, now defaced; 
it is 15 feet high. Description — Lord Dunraven, "Notes," vol. i., p. 6, with plan and illus- 
trations. Journal U.S.A. I., vol. xxv. (1895), p. 267. See Plate iv. Figs. 13 and 23. 

* This description and the illustration (Plate V.) are kindly given by Mr. H. T. Knox, 
f Ossianic Society, v., p. 287. 

% "Militaiy Architecture of Ireland," MSS. R.I. A., p. 145. In the repairs on the fort, a 
doubled-up skeleton was discovered in it. 







^■'vwLlw' 9 ipo to o f I 








50 Fi 






'"^''^'inliiS^ 9 10 " 30fT 


100 100 

Fig. 23.— typical IRISH FORTS. 


Westropp — The Ancient Forts of Ireland. 


95. Caheradrine, Galway (0. S. No. 95). — A large caher on the roadside north of Clarin- 
hridge. It is an unusually massiTe ring of masonry over 500 feet across, and ahout 1850 feet 
round. The walls are 6 to 8 feet thick, and for the most part 7 feet high iu the faces away from 
the road. The hlocks of the facing measure, as a rule, 3 feet hy 2 feet to 6 feet by 2 feet, there 
is a very doubtful example of an upright joint. The gate faces the south, and is 7 feet wide, with 
side-blocks 6 feet wide and 5 feet 3 inches high ; the lintels are gone. There is smaller stonework 
about 6 feet to the east of the gateway. 

In the centre of the garth is a mortar-built featureless wall from which radiate a series of 
field walls, the fort being used for meadowing. The fort is said to derive its name from the 
O'Drinans, whose duty it was to " distribute justice to the tribes "* of Hy Fiachra Aidne. Their 
ofB.cial residence was in later times at Ardnagree near Kinvarra. The name as given by local 
wi'iters is Caherdrineen. See Plate vi. 

96. Cahercomtnaim, Clare (0. S. No. 10). — This fort is not named, though it is roughly indi- 
cated on the 1839 maps. Lord Dunraven 
describes it, but did not fiud its name, 
which is known to the neighbouring 
peasantry over middle age, and is found 
in leases and gi-ants of the sixteenth and 
seventeenth centuries, and Petty's Survey. 
It is a massive caher of very rude masonry, 
130 feet to 157 feet over aU ; the wall 14 
feet high and 21 feet thick on the edge 
of a high cliff over the GlencuiTaim 
valley ; there are traces of a terrace and 
one flight of steps to the south-west, and 
of a gateway or rock-cut drain 3 feet 
wide on the cliffi edge. A waU of good 
masonry (much demolished in early times, 
and huts built upon and against it) is 
equidistant from the central caher, out- 
side is a more iiTegular wall, 320 feet by 245 feet across. It is built in sections of masoni-y 
similar to the main fort, 4 feet thick and 8 feet high, forming, like the second wall, a 
half-moon and abutting on the clifE. In the outer enclosure are two radiating walls with 
huts at the end, several hut-sites and a sunken passage, not leading to a gateway but 
abutting on the solid outer waU. Descriptions — Lord Dunraven "Notes," vol. i., p. 18: 
no dimensions or plan, only called a "fort between Clifden and Tennon," T. J. Westropp, 
Journal E.S.A.I., vol. xxvi., p. 153, with plan and illustrations; Proceedings K.I.A., vol. vi., 
ser. iii., p. 430. 

Fig. '24. — Cahercommaun, Clare. 

* Thus a fort in Clare is called Cahennaclanchy fi-om the family of Mac Flanchada, a race of 

Westropp — The Ancient Forts of Ireland. 121 

97. Cashlaun Gar, Clare (0. S. No. 10). — Occupies the summit of a lofty isolated rock 
rising from the GlencuiTaun Valley. It is i-udely oval, about 160 feet north and south, and 105 feet 
east and west, with salient angles clinging to the projections of the cliff. The gateway was pro- 
bably corbelled ; it opens upon a ledge 10 feet high, and must hare been reached by a ladder. The 
wall is 10 feet thick and 13i feet high, with upright joints. There are four hut sites. Descrip- 
tions — Journal E. S.A.I. , xxvi., p. 152. Plan and Illustrations. Proo. E.I. A., vol. vi., ser. iii. 

98. Ballijlcinvarga, Caher, Clare (0. S. No. 9). — CaherloughUn, in the Book of Distribu- 
tion, 1655, perhaps the Cathair Fhionnabhrach of the Book of Eights.* It lies on a gently rising 
ground near Kilfenora, and consists of a strong wall, 135 feet by 155 feet across the garth, built 
with two terraces, and 14 feet thick and over 15 feet high, with batter and upright joints, enclosing 
a garth with huts and enclosures. f The gateway to the south, with side-posts and a lintel 7 feet 
long. A sunken way leads through an abattis of sharp stone inllars, from 50 to 100 feet wide, with 
an edge of low earthwork and large slabs, one 7 feet high. A spring wells out of the slabs not 
far fi-om the entrance. Description — T. J. Westropp, Joiu-nal E.S.A.I., xxvii. (1897), p. 121, 
with plans and views ; Proc. R.I. A., vol. vi., ser. iii., p. 429. 

99. Caher croviea/rg, Kerry (0. S. No. 68).— A large ring-wall 110 feet in diameter; the 
rampart is massive, but much ruined, 8 feet to 10 feet 6 inches thick, and in places 12 feet 
high outside and 6 feet inside. It was used as a place of worship in later times. There is a rude 
altar with three stones forming a cross, to the east end. A pattern was held on May 1st; the 
nameless patroness was said to be sometimes visible bleaching clothes at the holy well. The well 
lies to the west side, and seems to have been an undergi'oimd passage, now filled with water ; 
cattle were di-iven into the fort to drink as a precaution against contagious diseases. The stations 
are marked by small stones scribed with crosses. 

1 00. Cahergel, Balhjcarbery, Kerry, — (Not on 0. S. map). A remarkable stone fort, 86 feet inter- 
nally, having X arrangements of flights of steps, seven in number, leading to a terrace 2 feet wide, 
above which the wall rises for a few feet. The wall is 12 feet thick at the top and 13 feet below, 
13 feet high outside, and 11 feet inside, the wall ha^-ing a batter of 1 in 13. In the garth, 
which is 104 feet in diameter, is a broken-topped cloghaun 32 feet in internal diameter, the 
walls 8 feet high and thick. The gateway had imposts and lintels, one 8 feet long, and faced 
south-east, but it has collapsed with much of the adjacent wall, and the steps are now much 
injm-ed. Descriptions — Lady Chatterton, "Eamhles in the South of Ireland"; G. Wilkinson, 
" Practical Geology and Ancient Architecture of Ireland" (1848), p. 57 ; E. E. Brash, " Eccle- 
siastical Architectui-e of Ireland" (1875); Lord Dum-aven, "Notes on Irish Architecture," 
vol. i., p. 24. Views and sections. 

101. Cahereullaun '^ Boen" Kerry (0. S. No. 43). — This is a strong circular caher, enclosing 
a clochaun and standing at the comer of a large rectangular enclosm-e of di-y-stone walls. The 
walls of the caher are 9 feet thick, 12 feet high, and show traces of steps leading to the top, 

* "Book of Eights" (Ed. J. O'Donovan), pp. 87-89. 

f Plate VII. Plan in section 51, «?<j9;v(. The references in plan are — A, Huts; B, Terraces; 
C, Gate ; D, Sunken way ; E, Monolith ; E, Spring. 


122 Westropp — The Ancient Forts of Ireland. 

and have a marked external batter. Miicli was pulled do-mi by a farmer in 1798. Perforated 
door-posts lay in the defaced gateway, and in the garth which measures 70 feet in diameter ai'e 
the horseshoe-shaped foundations of a clochaun. The oblong area measures 78 paces from east to 
west and 45 from north to south ; its walls are only 3 feet 6 inches thick and 10 feet high ; on 
the east side were some remains of a strong peel tower. Description — Lady Chatterton, 
" E ambles in the south of Ireland," vol. i., p. 184. 

102. Fahan, Kerry (0. S. No. 52). — This most important gi'oup of forts receives notice in 
other parts of this paper. Doonbeg in section 50 : Caherconor (DuNoyer's " Fort of the "Wolves") 
in fig. 21, supra; and Doonmore in section 125. The other important forts, both of earth 
and stone, have been fully described by DuNoyer and Mi'. E. Macalister in the accounts so 
often cited above. 

103. Staigue "Pound" Kerry (0. S. No. 99). — This fort is too well-known to need more 
than a brief notice.* It is 89 feet in internal diameter, the walls 18 feet high, and fi-om 13 feet 
t« 11 feet thick, with an external batter and upright joints. Inside is a remai-kable an-angement 
of steps crossing each other in ten bays of X design, with platforms at the intersections. There 
are two chambers in the wall, and it once possessed a cornice of large blocks. The gateway is 
entii'e with built sides and a reveal in the passage ; it faces the south, and is 6 feet 2 inches 
high, tapering fi-om 5 feet 2 inches to 4 feet 3 inches. The wall is girt by a shallow fosse. 
Descriptions — General C. VaUancey, "Account of the ancient stone Amphitheati-e (1787)"; 
F. C. Bland, Transactions, E.I. A. (1821), vol. xiv., p. 17, an admirable paper with plan and 
sections; and Lord Dunraven, " Notes." vol. i. p. 24, with fine photographs. See Plate vin., 
section 49. 

104. CahermoygilUar (" Cathair Maigh Liadh Gliar"), Cork (0. S. No. 94).— Two miles from 
Kinneigh in the townland of Cahir.f A circular earthwork with stone facings like the southern 
Caherdorgan in Keny. The outer facing is now 4 feet high ; the fort measures 90 feet internal 
and 120 feet external diameter. The rampart is 8 feet high, and about 12 feet thick; the inner 
face low and destroyed. It has a remarkable gateway 25 feet 4 inches long with a coveiing of 
seven slabs, the outer impost being placed on edge. This passage is 7 feet 3 inches to 6 feet high. 
In the garth are a partially explored souterraLn lying to the south-east, and near it a eaii'n, or 
perhaps fallen Cloghan, 8 feet high and 70 feet round. It is suirounded by two fosses and rings, 
the inner fosse 9 feet, and the outer 12 feet wide. It was first explored in 1856, and described by 
John AVindele, who, most unfortunately for Iiish field survey, did not publish his notes. 

105. Keel Aodh, Cork (0. S. No. 30). —In Drominagh, near Belathanire on the BaUy- 
hooly road, half a mile north-east fi'om Ballinabortagh, where is a square fort with a dallan 
and a defaced dolmen. It was explored by Windele, 1841. The fort is circular and 
much defaced. The rampart 8 feet high outside, and 3 feet to 6 feet high inside. Within it 
is an oblong, nearly rectangular, enclosui-e, 86 feet north and south, and 80 feet east and 

* "Our Ancient Monuments" (C. P. Kains Jackson), p. 89, is inclined to attribute Staigue 
to a date a little later than a.d. 1000. 
t Figure 23. 

Westropp — The Ancient Forts of Ireland. 123 

west, mucli broken. Near the north-west angle is a cairn of rude stones covered with a 
coating of quartz blocks, and only 3 feet high, 18 feet north and south, and 12 feet east and west ; 
in the south east angle is a grave, oval or boat shaped, fonned of stones set on edge. It probably 
represents a residential fort utilised as a burial-place in early times. 

106. Zissrahiennid (Lios ratha Diarmuid), Cork (0. S. Nos. 25 and 26), near BallygaiTane 
(Feimoy). — An earthwork 90 feet in diameter, with a fosse and ring. The ring 4 feet, and the 
fort 18 feet, above the field; the fosse, 5 feet below. It has a soutcrrain built of rough stones 
and covered by flags 4 feet across. 

107. Casket, Knockd/run, Cork (0. S. No. 142). — A stone fort 300 feet in circumference on 
a bold hill. The wall 5 or 6 feet high, and 10 feet or 11 feet thick. Near the gateway are a 
recess in the waU and a pillar with a rude cross. The foundations of a clochaun, 18 feet long and 
with a rounded end, lies in the garth ; also several souterrains 6 feet to 12 feet long and 3 feet high. 
Description — Canon J. Brougham, Cork Historical and Archasological Society, vol. ii., p. 154. 

108. Kilhradran Rath, Limerick (0. S. No. 19). — An earthwork on a hill to the south-east 
of Foynes, near Old Abbey. The vallum is 8 feet high outside, and 2 feet high inside, and 
consists of two rings, the inner about 150 feet across, the outer 56 feet distant from the inner. 
It has an entrance gap to the south, and a shallow fosse. See fig. 23. 

Marsh and Lake Forts. — The walled islands, as we pointed out, are 
constantly alluded to in the voyage of Maelduin. In most cases they are 
like the weaker cahers, and seldom possess structural features of interest. 
We may dismiss the principal of them with a few brief notes :* — 

109. Bungorkin, Londonderry (0. S. No. 23). — This fort is in low marshy land, and possibly 
occupied an island in a shallow lake. It has an oval mound, 186 feet by 129 feet, and inside it 
is a circle, 45 feet in diameter ; outside the whole is a large elliptical fosse, 84 feet wide. A 
causeway of piles, with transverse beams over them, and cross beams, above the upper timbers 
lead to it across the marsh. Description — " Statistical Survey of County Down," p. 499. 

110. Lough Nacrannagh, Antrim (0. S. No. 26). — In the lake on the plateau above Fair 
Head. A well-built oval fort, 6 feet by 4 feet high, the garth paved and measuring 126 feet by 
80 feet. It has a landing-place 6 feet wide to the north-east, and steps to south and east. 
Description — A. M'Henry, Proe. R.I. A., vol. ii., ser. ii., p. 462 ; " Ulster Journal of Archjeology," 
vol. vm., p. 238. 

111. Innis Mac Creaiva, or Illaun Carhery, Galwag (O. S. No. 55).' — An island in Lough 
Corrib. It has a circular caher of small dry-stone masonry ; the wall, 6 feet thick and 

* To mention a few others: — A lake fort remains at Lough na Crannoge, Tyrone; a marsh 
tort, with strong earthwork and fosse, in Attyflin, Limerick, near the railway ; Caherkinallia, 
Clare, a stone fort in a knoll in a marshy hollow, &c. The Annals of Ulster record the building 
of one, Oilen Daingcn, in a.d. 703, and its destruction three years later. 


124 "Westropp — The Ancient Foi-ts of Ireland. 

10 feet 6 inches high, and about HO feet across, occupying most of the island. A slight fosse 
appears round the wall, save at the entrance gateway, where is a level crossing. Description 
and illustration— Sir W. Wilde, "Lough Corrib," &c. (1867), p. 89. 

112. Lough Skannive, Galway (0. S. No. 77), near Cama. — The fort* is locally called "the 
Castle." The islet is overgrown and girt, save at some abrupt rocks, by an irregular wall, with 
regular facing and fiUing, 3 or 4 feet thick, and enclosing a space, 70 feet by 50 feet, and about 
220 feet round. There is a small dock for boats on the side farthest from the shore ; the wall has 
a slight batter. There is another walled island in the same, and a third in Lough Bola, not far 
away. Descriptions — "Lough Skannive," General Edgar Layard, Joiu'nal U.S. A. I., vol. xxvir., 
p. 273 ; "Lough Bola," Mr. George Kinahan, Ibid. (1872-3), p. 11. Illustrations in both. 

113. Cahersavaun, Clare (0. S. IsTo. 10). — A strong caher, with large masonry, the featiu-es 
defaced, on a rocky knoll in the temporary Lake of Castletown. There seem to be remains of a 
curved causeway leading to the shore. Description and illustration — R.S.A.I., vol. xwi., p. 364. 

114. Loughadoon, Donegal (0. S. ISo. 64.) — An oval fort on an island, giving its name to 
Loughadoon, two miles from Portnoo ; it measui'es 118 feet by 87 feet internally. The wall 
varies fi-om 14 feet to lOA- feet thick, and is very well built of di-y-stone work. One gateway 
remains, and a fight of steps at each end of the oval going to the top of the wall ; traces of a 
passage remain inside the wall. Description — Very Eev. Archdeacon Baillie, Journal E.S.A.I., 
vol. XXX., p. 148. 

115. Rectilinear Forts. — As already noted, the square fort, wliether 
of earth or stone, differs in no structural particular from the ring wall or 
rath. As regards age, antiquities of the Bronze Age have been found in 
a few ; but the popular idea that the straight-walled fort is later than the 
curvilinear has probability on its side, at least in many Irish cases. These 
forts in Ireland have also an important bearing on the archseology of 
Great Britain and the Continent, as showing that a straight-walled early 
fort is not necessarily Roman. f They occur, we believe, in every Irish 
county ; Ijut are most common in Leinster, especially Wexford with over 
fifty, and Kilkenny with at least twenty-eight, as shown on the map. 
Tliey occur, with surrounding ring-walls, in Galway, Cork, and Clare 
counties. There is a fine example near Tuam, with lofty stone walls 
forming a rectangular central enclosure, and a second wall circular in 

* Plate VI. 

+ The question is outside this essay, and the instances given by George Chalmers (" Caledonia," 
i., p. 92) and others of square and ring forts occurring together in Scotland and TTales, being a 
Celtic fort with a Roman camp holding the natives in check, lose much weight from the Irish 

Westropp — The Ancient Forts of Ireland. 125 

plan ; and another, with a small central ring-wall and large straight-walled 
outer enclosure, lies on the ridge of Cahermackirilla, in Clare. It is at 
present impossible to state, even approximately, their total number. Of 
course it is more than probable that many are omitted on the maps ; and, 
without a personal visit, one cannot be sure that the circular forts shown 
on the older Ordnance Survey maps are not, in some cases, rectilinear, 
while, on the new maps, many rectilinear forts are not distinguished from 
late enclosures. The earthworks of this plan are of very little interest ; 
so we will only illustrate this section by a few of the more striking 
examples of rectilinear-walled stone forts : — 

116. Caherrihert, Oalwmj (not on 0. S. 120).— It is ca straight-sided fort, with dry-stone 
walls, 6 feet high and 2^ feet thick. In the western side is a gate, with sloping jambs and lintels, 
4 feet 10 inches high, and 3 feet 2 inches to 2 feet 10 inches wide. Wilde considers it much later 
than the neighbouring ring-walls. BescripfionSir W. Wilde, " Lough Corrib," p. 244. 

117. Eiwckimn Fort, Clare (0. S. No. 10).— In the townland of Tullycommaun, not far 
from the dolmen on its northern ridge, is a straight-walled stone fort, now greatly levelled. It is 
of irregular "diamond shaped" plan, but is shown on the old Ordnance maps as a circular fort. 
It is of fair masomy, and in its garth lies a very curious slab enclosure, formed of large blocks of 
limestone set on edge. There were two flat stones, probably for seats, one on either side of the 
door, which was towards the south ; while a souterrain under a block long led under the side slabs 
into the enclosure from the north. The garth measiu-es about 130 feet across. 

118. Faiisrath, Kilhnny {not on 0. S. 36 and 40).— This fort lies near Kilbeacon and is 
oblong. It measures 210 feet by 165 feet and has a fosse and earth bank 20 feet high, once 
faced with dry stone work now almost removed. Description. — W. Tighe, " Statistical Survey 
of Kilkenny," p. 629. 

119. Munymeskar, Fermanagh (0. S. No. 27).— As shown on the map, this earthwork is 
X-shaped in pLan ; and, if this is correct, it is a very exceptional structm-e, and should be carefully 
planned and described. It lies near the " Ring HiU," to the east of Enniskillen. 

120. Promontory Forts.— The second most important type is the cliff 
fort or, perhaps, as a better term, the " promontory fort," for (unlike such 
forts as Doon Aenghus) it depends for most of its defence on natural cliffs 
or steep slopes, whether of a promontory or inland spur.* So well chosen 
were these ancient strongholds that (as shall be seen in many cases) castles 
were built and ramparts raised across the neck upon or within the old fosses 

* Csesar mentions a fortress of the Aduatici, formed by constructing two walls and a fosse, 
200 feet long, across the neck of a long precipitous ridge (" De Bello Gallico," Lib. ir., c. xxix.). 

126 Westeopp — The Ancient Forts of Ireland. 

and earthworks. In some cases the name Doon attaches to a bold head- 
land on which no trace of fosse or mound is now visible ; but the ease with 
which a stone wall was removed or a ditch entirely filled with tlie mound 
is so evident that we may be allowed (noting the fact) to enumerate sucli 
suitable places as still bear the name " doon." As Mr. R. A. S. Macalister 
points out, " doon" is the usual term for a promontory fort ; but here and 
there " caher" appears, and stone walls are not unknown. Uunbeg, near 
Fahan, and " Balor's Prison," have at least fom* earthworks. 

Commencing at County Dublin, and going soutli-ward round the coast, we find a cliff fort at 
Lambay Island called the " Garden Fort" (a curved earth-work across Gouge Point), Dun Criffan, at 
the gi-eat Bailey, on Howth; where a natural valley narrowed the neck, and a fosse and earthwork 
were thrown across. It is greatly defaced, but some traces remain, and a midden of periwinkle and 
limpet shells is visible on the north side ; no water-supply is apparent.* Baginbun, in Wexford, 
has earthworks, attributed to Strongbow, but probably ancient. In TTaterford we find an interest- 
ing group. The fort of Shanooan, above Doonmore Harboui- (0. S. No. 27); Swine Head Fort, 
at Stonycove (No. 27) ; Coolum Fort (No. 27), near Brownstown Head at Tramore Bay. The 
" encampment " at West town, Illaimacollia Fort, in Gan-arus, and Islandikane, or Sheep Island, 
with an ancient dwelling, lie along the cliffs (No. 26) ; "Woodstown, near Green Island Fort, 
Dunbrattin Headland (No. 25), and BallynaiTid Fort lie farther westward. In Cork we find a 
Knockadoon point, west of Toughal Bay (No. 78) ; the Big and Little Doon, near Kinsale 
(No. 125) ; Dooneen Point (No. 127) ; the Old Head of Kinsale, with its Castle, and the earth- 
works of Dunceammna, which the Triads reckon as one of the three oldest forts in Ireland, and 
Dooneen Head (No. 127); Dunmanus Head (No. 138); Dun worly Castle, at the Seven Heads 
(No. 145) ; Dunlough, or Three Castle Head and Castles (No. 146) ; Dunowen Castle (No. 144) ; 
Dunnycove Castle, Dundeady Castle, and Dunoure Castle, all on Galley Head (No. 144) ; Coos- 
dergadoona and Dooneendennot Fort, at Toe Head (No. 151); Doonlea (No. 147); Dooneen 
(No. 138) ; Doonbeg, on Beare Island (No. 128). In Kerry — Doonave cliff, near a headland, with 
gaUans across the neck (No. 78) ; Reenacaheragh Castle and Fort, on Doon Point (No. 87) ; 
Dunbeg and Dunmore, within one earthwork, in Doonsheane (No. 53); Doonywealaun Fort, Doon 
Fort, south of Dingle Bay, enclosing a "giant's grave" (No. 53); Dunbeg Fort, the well-known 
stone fort and fosses near Fahan, and Doonmore (enclosing an Ogham pillar), near Slca Head 
(No. 52) ; Doon Fort, with Feniter's Castle (No. 42) ; Cahercarbery more and beg Forts (No. 13); 
Doon Point and Castle, near Ballybunion (No. 4). In Clare — Dunmore, an unusual type described 
below (No. 71) ; Doondoillroe, curved earthworks and deep fosse (No. 65) ; Dunlicka Castle and 
Fort (No. 55) ; lUaimadoon, a detached but not isolated crag (No. 55) ; Doonaunroe Fort, Foohagh 
Point (No. 56) ; Donegal Point (No. 46) ; Moher Fort (No. 14). In Galway—^u\y\i Cathair, Aran 

* It is named in the Chronicon Scotorum, a.b. 647. In the subsequent names we follow the 
local usage in spelling — the pronunciation is always " Doon." 

WicSTROPP — The Ancient Forts of Ireland. 127 

(No. 119). In Mayo — a supposed walled headland on Caher Island (No. 94);* Doonty and 
Gubadoon, in Achill (No. 54) ; Doonaneanir isolated rock and Dunnamoe stone Fort, Spinkadoon 
stone Fort, and Dim Fiachra earthen Fort, all in the Mullet (Nos. 2 and 9) ; Doonvinalla Fort, 
Portnacloy (No. 1) ; Doonbristy, detached rock. In Donegal — Dunhalor Fort, with Balor's Prison, 
Portadown, on Tory Island (No. 6) ; Duncap (No. 16) ; Dooan, or Green Fort, Duni-ee headland 
with modern battery, and DunafE Head, in Lough Swilly; Dunakbagh (No. 1); Dunargus, 
Dungolgan Head (No. 2) ; Dunmore Head (No. 5). In Antrim — CliS forts rather than promontory 
forts may have been on the sites occupied by the late castles of Dunluce, Dunseverick, Dunneney, 
and Kenbane (Nos. 2, 3, 4) ; Dtmseverick shares -with Dunceammna the repute of being one of 
the oldest forts in Ireland. Carravindoon or Doon Point, on Eathlin Island (No. 1), Dunsoghey 
(No. 4). In all over seventy probable sites, at least thirty-four having actual remains. 

We may describe a few typical examples. 

121. Bunfiachra, Mayo (0. S. No. 2). — At Aghadoon, at the N.W. corner of Mayo, a cliff 
fort overhangs the sea. It consists of a strong earth mound with a fosse across the neck of a 
precipitous and even overhanging promontory. The founder is said to have possessed a famous 
sea-horse on which he was able to leap across the narrow part of the creek. At a short distance 
to the north are two more long and bold headlands, the northern of which is named Spinkadoon, 
and was defended by a massive dry-stone rampart now nearly levelled to its foundation. 

122. Dunnamoe,] County Mayo (0. S. No. 9). — A promontory to the N.W. of Belmullet is 
defended by a massive but rudely-built stone wall, 210 feet long, 18 feet high, 8 feet thick, and 
much injured. The defaced gateway is in the centre facing the S.E. It was 3 feet 8 inches 
wide, and had a fenced passage leading across a shallow fosse 14 feet wide. To each side of this 
fosse the Ordnance Survey maps showed a hut-site, but these structures have been entirely 
removed. Before the fosse to the right hand a number of small stones are set in the ground, 
forming a very slight abattis. Inside the wall are thi-ee dilapidated huts about 9 feet by 4 feet 
G inches, and 4 feet 6 inches high, the roofs having coUapsed. On the headland inside the wall and 
fosse, was a strong cu'cular fort 101 feet in diameter, the gateway to the S.W., all being much 
defaced and now indeed only resembles a circular patch of tumbled blocks. Description — 
W. F. Wakeman, Jom-nal, R.S.A.I., vol. xix. (1889), p. 182, plan and illustration. Dr. C. 
Browne, "Ethnography of the Mullet, &c.," Proc. R.I. A., vol. iii., ser. iii., p. 640. See plan 
herewith. Figtu-e 23. 

123. Dtihh Cathnir, or Doonaghard, Aranmore, County Galway (0. S. No. 119). — Now called 
"Doon doo 'hair," and consists of a strong dry-stone wall built across a long headland and 

* See paper by Mr. Rolleston, Jom-nal, R.S.A.I., vol. xxx., p. 358. There are two islets, 
DoonalUa and Doontraneen, at the cliffs of Clare Island, which may represent sea-wrecked 
promontories and forts. 

f O'Donovan renders its name Dim modha after the Firbolg chieftain Mod of the sons 
of Huamore. 


Wesi'ropp — The Ancient Forts of Ireland. 

220 feet long, 20 feet high, and. 16 to 18 feet thick. It was protected on the land side 
by an abattis. Inside were two rows of stone huts, one along the wall; another for 170 
feet along the cliff. These are now nearly swept away. In 1878 the inner face of the 
wall was desti'oyed, but when the fort was restored as a national momiment, modern 
ten'aces and steps were introduced. The gateway was extant near the northern end when 
Petrie saw it. Several hut-sites and a midden lie before the wall on the outside, and a 
somewhat similar but nearly levelled fort lies to the N.W. Descriptions— JjOI'A Duni'aven, 
Notes, vol. i., p. 9, with plan and photographs; T. J. Westropp, Journal, R.S.A.I., xxv. 
(1895), p. 266. See Plate iiv. 

124. Bunmore, Clare (0. S. No. 71). — A very remarkable cliff fort on a peninsula joined to 
the land by a long bank of di'ift artificially scarped. The upturned strata of the landward' 

cliff formed the base of a dry-stone 
wall backed with an earthen mound. 
There are middens of limpet shells 
and polished pebbles. Description — 
T. J. "Westropp, Proo. R.I.A., vol. vi., 
series iii., p. 446, plan and section. 

125. Dunmore, Kerrij (0. S. No. 
52). — Near Slea Head, the largest 
promontory fort in Ireland. It is 
fenced by a fosse and two mounds 
1570 feet long, and nearly straight, 
running N.N.W. and S.S.E. across 
the headland. The outer mound is 
only 2 feet 6 inches high, the fosse is 
11 feet 6 inches wide, and the inner 
bank 5 feet high. A souten'ain with a cross scribed on a stone, and containing bones, was 
found on the headland, and it also contains the " Dovinia " ogam-scribed pillar-stone. 
Description — R. A. S. Macalister, Trans. R.I.A., vol. xxxi., p. 279. 

126. Dunbeg, Comity Kerry (0. S. No. 52). — This noteworthy fortification,* though not one of 
the largest, is certainly the most remarkable of our promontoiy forts. It nins across the neck of 
a triangular headland. Four fosses and as many earthworks crossed the neck. The first two are 
now much curtailed to the east. A raised gangway crosses the others, leading to a gateway in a 
strong rampart of diy stone. There are slabs in each bank as if there had been stone gateways, 
and a souterrain runs under the main entrance and for some distance under the gangway. The 
main wall is of two sections. The older part is 139 feet 6 inches long, and from 8 feet to 11 feet 
thick. On the inner face are low terraces or steps, and oiitside a section, I foot 6 inches lower, has 
been built along the landward face and resting on a plinth. Poi-tions of this work have fallen. 


5. — Dunmore promontory fort, Clare. 


-Middens and earthwork. 
-Earthwork on detached rock. 

n. — Raised pathway. 
EF. — .Section. 

* Figures 13, 21. Reference letters on latter: a steps, h guard room, c paved way 
d souterrain, e clochaun, / drain, y mounds, h gateways, / kerbiug, m modern walls. 

Westropp — The Ancient Forts of Ireland. 129 

The remarkable gateway and passage, side chambers, recesses, and loop-holes are described among 
the fort gateways, supra, section 50. "We need only note that a clochaun with a surrounding 
drain, the site of another hut, and traces of a wall round the edges of the clifi are found in 
the enclosui-e. It has suffered, like Grianan Aileach and the Aran forts, fi'om too complete 
restoration when conserved as a national monument, and now diifers gi-eatly from the fort seen 
and described by Windele in 1848, and described and planned by DuNoyer ten years later. 
Descriptions — George DuNoyer, 1858, Ai'choeological Journal, vol. xv., p. 1. Lord Dimraven, 
"Notes," vol. i., p. 19. R. A. S. Macalister, Trans. R.I. A., vol. xxxi., p. 220. All have plans 
and iUustrations ; those of the latter elaborate and careful, the other plans very inaccurate. 

127. Caherconree, Counti/ Kerry (0. S. Nos. 37 and 46) (locally "Been Cahii-ach.")— A 
projecting spur- fenced by high eMs (nearly 200 feet high) on two sides S. and N.E., fenced on 
the third side by a waU of moderate-sized stones 350 feet long, straight along the centre,* but 
curving inwards at the ends, 14 feet to 15 feet 9 inches thick, 10 feet 6 inches high, with two 
terraces inside, 3 feet 3 inches and 3 feet wide. The faces are of headers, and the wall is in one 
piece and has no batter. There are some equivocal traces of huts against the wall. The entrance 
passage was 7 feet 6 inches wide. Outside is a low earthwork. Descriptions — John "Windele, 
Ulster Joiu-nal of Archoeology, viii. (1860). P. J. Lynch, Journal, R.S.A.I., xxix., p. 5, plans, 
sections, and illustrations. Both are most careful and valuable descriptions. f 

128. Motes (Simple). — There are two kinds of this type of structure ; 
the simple mote, usually a conical earth mound 20 feet to 50 feet high, 
with a flat or rounded summit and with a fosse and earthwork round the 
base, the other a more complex kind, with a lower platform and girt with 
a fosse. The simpler form occurs in Central and Northern Europe and in 
Great Britain. In Ireland few examples exist west of the Shannon and 
Lagan or in Western Munster, though several ordinary raths are called 
locally motes. The simple mote is most abundant in county Kildare. It 
is very easy to confuse this form with tumuli, but the mistake is of the 
less moment that certain defensive motes contain burials, and certain 
sepulchral mounds have been evidently adapted for fortification, as at 
Durrow and Grreenmount. The early mote has often been utilized as the 
base of a mediaeval keep ; in other instances the castle has been built 

* Plate I. Figure 23. 

t " Cahir Conri," by Rev. M. Horgan, Cork, 1860, attempts to show that the real fort named 
in the CuchuUin legend is Cathair Conri, near Lough Curraun, where, he states, that a similar 
legend prevails, and that the stream is named Fion glaisse. However, the traditional fort was 
located on Slieve Mish by a poem of Flan {c. a.d. 1086). Professor Rhys (R.S.A.I., vol. xx., 
1891, p. 654), following O'Donovan, doubts the existence of the fort. See Plate I. 


130 Westkopp — The Ancient Forts of Ireland. 

beside the mote in the lower enclosure. Early tradition attributes several 
of these forts to the opening centui'ies of our era. The mote of Magh 
Adhair, for example, to Adar son of Huamore ; Downpatrick to the Red 
Branch hero Celchtar ; Naas to Lughdech Eithlenn, circa a.d. 277 ; while 
Mainham is possibly the traditional tomb of Buan, wife of Mesgegra, who 
died of grief at seeing her husband's head carried by Connal Carnech. 
It is hard to deal with these mounds in any detail, so we will endeavour 
to collect a list of some of the principal motes in Ireland, as an attempt at 
more woidd be necessarily imperfect in the absence of field lists. 

Antrim. — Donegore, 40 feet high (0. S. No. 50). Dromfane (0. S. No. 42). Uunamoy, 
50 feet high, with flat top and 50 feet across. 

Longford. — Granard (0. S. No. 10). The largest simple mote in Ireland. It has chambers 
and traces of the strong mortar-built walls of some late defence.* Aidowlan (0. S. No. 14) with 
one terrace. 

Monaghan. — Clones (0. S. No. 11). It is nearly 70 feet up the slope, and has three ledges 
or terraces on the sides, The fosses had been filled up before the Ordnance Sun-ey of 1835, 
when 0' Donovan examined it. 

Louth. — Louth (0. S. No. 11), a small mote. Dawson's mote near Ai'dee (0, S. No. 17). 
Faughart (0. S. No. 4), chiefly made of stones, and about 32 feet high. Mount Ash (0. S. No. 6). 
Mount Bagnal (0. S. No. 8), with one fosse and ring. Castlegard, 90 feet up the slope, 600 feet 
circumference. Eosskeagh has a small platform on the south flank, and is girt with fosses and 
a triple mound, one being of stone (0. S., No. 4). 

Meath. — Slane (0. S. No 19), described below. Navan (0. S. No. 25), a smaU rounded 
mote, with a fosse and bank cut out of a low gravel hill, and now undermined. Nobber 
(0. S. No. 5). Dunsany (0. S. No. 37), very large; defaced by later buildings. 

Westmeath. — Moate, a fine rounded moundf (0. S. No. 30). Rathcreevagh, near- Brook- 
miUs, with high ring. Rahugh (0. S. No. 38), a large mote with fosse and bank, cut out of the 
escar. Ballylochloe, a rounded mote. Tiuode (0. S. No. 2). 

Duhlin. — Dunsoghly (0. S. No. 14), near it two lesser motes. Ballymount (0. S. No. 21), 
defaced by later buildings. 

King's County. — Durrow (O. S. No. 9), defaced by later castle. 

Queen's County.— M.ote Castle (0. S. No. 30). Killeshin (0. S. No. 32). Skii-k (0. S. 
No. 21), noted below. 

Kildare. — Clane (0. S., No. 14), a fine mote, with a fosse and ring, on the Liffey. Mainham 
(0. S. No. 14), a large flat-topped mound, with fosse and ring, the supposed tomb of 

* Wilkinson, "Practical treology and Ancient Architecture of Ireland" (1845), p. 56. 
t See " Irish Names of Places" (Dr. Joyce, vol. i., p. 281). 




















132 Westeopp — The Ancient Forts of Ireland. 

Buan.* Jfaas(0. S. No. 19), destroyed by Cormac MacAirt. Great Do-vdenstown (0. S. No. 24), 
37 feet high, with a side terrace, fosse, and ring. Kilkea(0. S. No 37). Rheban(0. S. No. 30). 
Rathmore (0. S. No. 20), a true mote despite its name. Old Connell (0. S. No. 23), 38 feet high, 
with ring. The Curragh had many small motes or tumuli, of which Moteenanow is probably a 
true mote. Cloncurry, near the northern border, is probably sepulchral ; it is 27 feet high 
without a fosse. 

CarZow.— BaUyknockan (0. S. No. 16). Mill Mote (0. S. No. 7). Ballyhannon (0. S. 
No. 16). Castlemore (0. S. No. 8), it is 29 feet high. Castlegrace (0. S. No. 8), about 
the same height. Dun Riogh, Ballyknockan (0. S. No. 16), a large mote, 230 feet across at the 
base, and 69 feet up the side. St. Mullins (0. S. No. 26). Clonrusk (0. S. No. 14). 

TFid-low.]—Pai^asJ]loge (0. S. No. 7). Motamoy (0. S. No. 21). Umrygar (0. S. 
No. 42). Raheena (0. S. No. 21). Enniskeriy (0. S. No. 7). Mount Kennedy (0. S. No. 13). 

Kilkenny. — Listerlin (0. S. Nos. 36 and 40), described below. Knocktopher, (0. S. No. 31). 

Wexford.— Ys^me. (0. S. No. 2), 100 feet diameter and 28 feet high. Ballymoatymore (0. S. 
No. 20), 25 feet diameter and 30 feet high. 

Galway. — Newtown Ep-e (0. S. No. 99). 

Clare. — Magh Adhair (0. S., No. 34), described below. 

We may briefly describe a few typical exam^^les and noteworthy 
instances. The type does not lend itself to any elaborate description. 

129. Faughart, Louth. — (0. S. No. 4). A lofty and shapely typical mote, 38 feet high, 
with a flat top. "Wright makes it to be 60 feet high, probably measuring up the slope. It has a 
fosse and ring round the base, and a remarkable sloping ascent, as at Magh Adhair.;]: 

130. Slane, Meath. — (0. S. No. 19). A large flat-topped conical mote, 27 feet high, with a flat 
top, and slight rampart (hardly a foot high), 93 across, and 560 round the base. An excavation 
on top shows it consists mainly of splinters of stone out of the fosse. It has no sloping ascent 
to the summit and in parts slopes as much as 10 in 12. It is girded with a deep fosse cut in 
the rock 5 to 7 feet deep, and 16 to 18 feet wide. Concentric with this is another but slighter 
fosse, 4 feet deep with a nearly levelled ring ; it measures over all 392 feet east and west. It is 
thickly planted, and stands in the field west of Slane " Abbey," on the summit of the Hill of 
Slane, 497 feet above the sea. If sepulchral it may be the Ferta Fir Feic which stood near 
Slane ;§ it is stated to be the palace of King Slanius. 

* Co. Kildare ArchDeological Society, vol. iii., p. 317. Paper by Rev. M. Devitt. 

f Motes on the border of Wicklow are said to be brehon's law moimds, and if a pillai' stands 
near them, it is called Cloch na Righ, and believed to have been a place of inauguration. 

J Sloping ascents of timber are figured above from Bayeux Tapestry, and are described in 
the Life of St. John, Bishop of Terouaine (Act: SS. Bolland, 27 Jan.); Clarke's " Medieeval 
Military Architecture in England," vol. i. p. 36. 

§ " Life of St. Patrick," by Mactheni (ed. Rev. A. Barry), p. 19. 

Westropp — The Ancient Forts of Ireland. 133 

131. Skirk, Queen's County.~{0. S. No. 21). A mote and circle of upright stones sun-ounded 
by a rampart and fosse. Urns and human bones were found in the lower enclosure. Description — 
Sir Charles Coote, " Statistical Survey of Queen's County" in Vallancey's " Collectanea de rebus 

132. Listerlin, Kilkenny.— {0. S. Nos. 36 and 40 cover the townland, but show no mote). 
Tighe describes it as 40 feet high, with a flat oval top, 15 by 18 yards across, and 114 yards in 
circumference at the base. It is girt with a ditch 30 feet wide, except on the east side. Description — 
Statistical Siu-vey of County Kilkenny, W. Tighe, p. 629. 

133. Magh Adhair, Clare.— {O.S. No. 34). A flat-topped mote without battlements, but with 
a fosse, earth-ring, and sloping ascent to the west.* It stands in a natural depression once banked 
round and beside a stream. It measures 100 feet across the top, and 25 feet high. A cairn, 17 feet 
high, stands between it and the stream, and a large block of conglomerate with two basins Ues in 
the enclosiu-e. A pillar stands in the field beyond the rivulet, 140 feet from the mound. It is 
traditionally connected with Adar the Firbolg, and was the place of the inauguration of the 
Dalcassian princes fi-om the earliest times to the reign of Elizabeth. Description — Proc. R.I.A., 
vol. v., series iii., p. 55. 

134. Motes (Complex). — The second and more complex form of mote 
is of much greater interest than the last, consisting, as it does, of a lofty- 
mound, round-headed or flat-topped, an annexe or lower platform, usually 
separated from the high mote by a fosse, and the whole girded with one 
or more fosses and banks. This form of mote occurs in Hungary and 
Germany in forms identical with those in Ireland and Britain. It will be 
remembered that it has been considered to be a form of temple, or to 
be the " castra ac spatia" of Tacitus. The annexe is most frequently 
crescent-shaped in plan, but is sometimes fan-shaped, square, or even round 
or oval. Like the simple mote it is most abundant in eastern Ulster 
and Leinster. It does not (so far as we are aware) occur in Connaught, 
Western Munster, in the Queen's or King's County, Dublin, Carlow, 
Monaghan, Armagh, Tyrone, Fermaniigh, or Donegal; it is possible 
that some of these forts by the destruction of their annexe now appear as 
simple motes. It is most abundant in Down and Louth, and some of the 
finest examples are found there and in Meath. We collect the more im- 
portant examples ; most of them like the simple motes stand near streams. 

Antrim. — Dundermot, crescent annexe to south (0. S. No. 27). Galgorm, square annexe 
to north-east (0. S. No. 37), Ballykeel, fan annexe to south-east (0. S. No. 37). 

* This is a rare example of the permanent sloping way. 

134 Westropp — The Ancient Forts of Ireland. 

Down. — Downpatrick, tlie most remarkable in Ireland, described below (0. S. No. 37). 
Dromore, square annexe, described below (0. S. No. 21). Crown Mound near Newry, square 
annexe, described below (0. S. Nos. 46, 47). 

Londonderry. — Kilcranny, fan annexe (0. S. No. 3). 

Tyrone. — Clogher (0. S. Nos. 58, 59), described below. 

Longford. — Ai'dowlan (0. S. No. 14), crescent annexe. 

Louth.— Castlegard, 90 feet up slope, 47 feet in diameter on top, Greenmount, described 
below (0. S. No. 15). Killaney, square annexe, described below (0. S. No. 10). 

Meath. — Derver, a rounded mote, witb a square annexe, on the bank of a stream (figure 25), 
(0. S. No. 10); Donagbpatriek, on the Boyne, a very fine mote, with crescent annexe to south- 
west, described below (0. S. No. 17) ; Lisboy, round annexe to west (0. S. No. 6). 

Westmeath. — Castletown, 50 feet high, crescent annexe to north-west (0. S. No. 32) ; Fore, 
has a long oval enclosure to south-west (0. S. No. 4). Ai-dnurcher (0. S. No. 31), described in 
Trans. R.I. A., vol. ii. 

Kildare. — Morristown-Biller, oval annexe to south, rounded mote, with a slight fosse and on 
a small stream (0. S. No. 23). 

Kilkenny. — CaUan. It is 40 feet high, with a flat top, 46 by 24 yards across, and has a small 
annexe to the west separated from the mote by a fosse. Portnascully (0. S. No. 45). 

WicTcloiv. — Merginstown, crescent annexe, described below (0. S. No. 15). 

Wexford. — Loggan (0. S. No. 2). Ai'damine (0. S. No. 12). (Figured in Dublin Penny 
Magazine, 1834, p. 146). 

Tipperary. — Kilfeakle (0. S. No. 59), 45 feet high, with a crescent-shaped annexe 174 feet 
across and 19 feet high, deep fosses to north, the whole girt with an earthwork. Dunohill 
(0. S. No. 59), described below. Tipperary (0. S. No. 57), 43 feet high, with a side annexe 
31 feet high, surrounded by lofty rings and deep fosses. Enockgraffan (0. S. No. 77), 55 feet 
high, 60 feet across top, 193 feet through base; it has an irregular annexe with a defaced fosse 
49 feet wide ; on it are fragments of a castle built a.d. 1192.* 

Limerick. — Kilfinnane (0. S. No. 56), described below. 

Waterford. — Lismore (0. S. No. 21), crescent annexe, described below. 

Typical Examples : — 

135. Dundermot, County Antrim (0. S. No. 27).— A large flat-topped mote 60 feet by 30 feet 
across. The base is siuTounded by a deep fosse, and south of this, but also suiTounded by a fosse 
is a somewhat crescent-shaped annexe, locally called " the Parade." A sunken way or trench 
seems to have led to a spot near the bridge over the Ravel. Description — H. Monck Mason, 
" Statistical Survey of Antrim," vol. i. Illustration. 

136. Downpatrick, County Down (0. S. No. 37). — This truly great earthwork is the Rath 
celtchair of our ancient records; it measiu'es 2100 feet in circumference, and its rounded mound 
is 60 feet high. It is siUTounded by three ramparts 30 feet wide, and measures three- 

* Attributed to Rafann, foster-mother of Fiaoha Mulleathan, king of Mimster. 

Westropp— 7%e Ancient Forts of Ireland. 135 

fourths of a mile within the circuit of the earthworks. Lescription—T^o full description has been 
published, but good views appear in Molyneux' "Danish Mounts" (1725), and Archseologia 
Camhrensis. See also Journal, E.S.A.I., xxi. (1891), p. 582. Figure 26, supra. 

137. Bromore, Cotcntij Down (0. S. No. 21).— Another veiy typical example closely 
resembling that " Hausburg " of Stouegg in Hungary, already described. It consists of a flat- 
topped "mount" in two slight stages, which measui-es 650 feet in circumference at the 
base, and is 60 feet across the summit, and rises 44 feet (or 40 feet as in map) above the 
field, and about 80 feet (slope) from the bottom of the fosse, on the slopes next the river. 
A square annexe adjoins it to the south, measuring about 80 by 90 feet across. It has a 
triple earthwork with fosses, 10 or 12 feet wide to the land side. The annexe abuts on a 
precipice, and from its south-east corner a sunken way 260 feet long, 7 feet wide, and 9 feet 
deep runs down to the Lagan. Description— ''AndKui and Present State of the County 
Down" (1744), p. 216, with plan and illustration.* 

138. Croivn Mount, County Down (0. S. Nos. 46, 47).— The Crown Eath or Crown Mount is 
another large mote 579 feet round the base, and 63 by 27 feet across the top, the fosse is 21 feet 
wide. It has a square annexe 1 30 feet along the side, and a sort of sunken way as at Dromore. 
Tradition says that two " pretenders for the crown " fought out their quaiTel in the annexe. 
Description — "Ancient and Present State of the County Down," p. 218. 

139. Clogher, County Tyrone (0. S. Nos. 58, 59).— The residence of the princes of Oriel 
and a site of pillar worship. It lies within the grounds of the Bishop's Palace. It consists of a 
high mound with a semi-cii'cular small annexe to the south, and a larger enclosure of u-regulai- 
oval plan, protected by a deep fosse on the west and east ; in the south of the annexe is a cairn 
or tumulus with a raised earthwork. 

140. Oreenmount, Comity Louth (0. S. No. 15).— This mote when "Wright first sketched 
and described it in " Louthiana" in 1758 had a lofty conical mound with rounded top occupied 
by a large tree, and a high mound, and deep fosse roimd a D-shaped outer enclosure (" Louthiana," 
plates 10 and 11), but now only a few traces of the outer work remain to the north-west. Tra- 
dition, in 1758, said it was the place of the fii-st Irish Parliament, and this story was repeated at 
any rate in 1870. It rests on rising ground (not a hiU as stated by "Wright) about 150 feet above 
the sea, and the old peasantry caU it Drum cha (Drum ha), the ridge of battles. The mount is 
210 feet roimd, and 12 feet high, the slope seems to have been continued down the faU of the 
ground, so as to be at one point nearly 70 feet long. The old earthworks were about 105 feet 
long. In the mount was a long souterrain roofed with slabs, and 5 feet high by 3 feet 3 inches 
wide ; in it were found a bronze celt and harp peg, and a plate, with interlacing, and the words 
" Domnal Selshofoth a soerth Theta " (Domnall seal's-head owns this sword or trapping) in runic 
letters. Description—'' Louthiana, ' ' p. 9, plates 1 and 1 1 ; Major-General J. H. Lefi-oy, Journal, 
R.S.A.I. XI. (1871), p. 471. 

141. Killaney, County Louth (0. S. No. 10).— The mount is 60 feet up the slope, and the 
top platform is about 40 feet in diameter and 130 feet above the sea; an octagonal building 

* Figure 26. 

136 Westropp — The Ancient Forts of Ireland. 

once occupied the summit, and paths lead up to it from the annexe, ■which is an iiTegrilar square 
once enclosed by an ancient wall, and is girt with a fosse and outer earthwork which nearly abuts 
on the stream. It lies near the western border of Louth.* 

142. Donaghpafrich, Count y Meath (0. S. No. 17). — A large rounded mote 20 feet high, 
with a large "crescent" shape annexe, to the south, 200 feet across. The annexe is 
separated by a shallow fosse fi-om the mote, and outside them are three deep fosses with large 
mounds between, and respectively 10 to 12 feet, 13 to 15 feet, and 8 feet deep, and about 
10 to 16 feet wide. The whole is richly planted with laurels, and the fosses on the eastern 
side are levelled, and measure about 400 feet over all. The Annals of Ulster record a.d. 745, 
"Dragons were seen in the sky. The forcible entry of Donaghpatric, and seven prisoners 
crucified." (Perhaps "tortured."")! 

143. Portnasculhj, County Kilkenny (0. S. No. 45). — This mote is 50 feet high, 126 feet 
diameter at the base and 24 feet at the top. It has an oblong annexe to the east, 470 feet across, 
and an earthwork with a flat top and a fosse 10 feet deep. 

144. Merginstoivn, County Wiclclow (0. S. No. 15). — A small mote to the south-east of 
Dunlavin ; it has a liigh mount and low platform, or annexe somewhat crescent-shape. To the 
west end, in the adjoining field, were found small cists containing crouching skeletons with their 
heads on their knees, and with clay vessels beside them ; another group of burials had entomb- 
ments without cists, and the bodies lying north and south. It is noteworthy that in each case 
the axis of the burial lay towards the mote, as in the case of the forts of Bosnia-Herze- 
govina. One cist was removed by Mr. Mahony to Grange Con, where the enclosed urn is also 
preserved. At the gate of the paddock, near the mote, was formerly a cupped stone. J 

145. Loggan County Wexford (0. S. No. 2). — The mote consists of a high mound, with a 
platform to the south, ringed in, about 15 feet high, by an oval rampart and fosse. To the 
south-east was a pillai", near which an urn was found, also three cists with bones and urns. Five 
hundred feet southward from the mote lay a group of cists with skeletons, and near a hollowed 
mound were found two urns with ashes and miniatiu-e urns inside. § 

146. Dunohill, County Tipperary (0. S. No. 59). — A large conical mote, over 30 feet high, 
visible from the railway, and capped with a lofty fragment of the castle, built 1192. It is 
642 feet in circumference at the base, and has an annexe, an irregular square, crowded with 
foundations of buildings belonging to the castle; the earthworks and fosses much defaced.f 

147. Kilfimiane, County Limerick (0. S. No. 56). — A conical mote, 30 feet high, 50 feet 
diameter at base, and 20 feet at top. It is girt with three fosses and earthworks. The fosses 
are (inner) 18 to 20 feet wide, with outer work, 16 feet high ; the next, 10 or 12 feet wide, with 
ring, 13 feet high: the next fosse, 12 feet wide, and outer earthwork, 10 feet high ; the outer 
ring is 2000 feet round. The short notices of it say that it had seven ramparts ; but we did not 
observe traces of some of these in 1877 ; it was carefully measured by John Windele.f 

* R.S. A.I., vol. xix., p. 88. " The Motes of Iverk," by Dr. James Martin. f Figure 26. 

J From Notes by Mr. George H. Kinahan. Read before R.I.A., 1901. 
§ From same Notes. 

Westropp— r/^e Ancient Forts of Ireland. 137 

148. Ignore, County WaterforA (0. S. Xo. 21)._The ancient Dun.ginne, or Maghsgiath 
stands on the edge of a steep slope near the Blackwater, and is thickly planted. It eon istf o 

theTT T' T? ' V°'' ''^'^' '^ ^ *°^^^ ^•°'^ ^ " «— ^" «^«p«^ pi'^tfo,™ lying 

to the outh ; the whole g„-t by a fosse, irregularly oval in plan, with a slight mound outs^e 
BescnpUon and plan m Journal, R.S.A.I., vol. xxvir. (1897), p. 272. Figure 26, supra. 

149. Long Entrenchments.-These remarkable works are found in 
Longford under the name of -Duncladh;" in Armagh and Down under 
^^ name of the -Dane's Cast"; in Cavan as the - Worm Ditch"; in 
Wa erford and also in Limerick as the - Rian Bo Patrick" and the - Cladh 
cubh, which ran from Waterford into Cork at right angles to the 

Rian Bo ; in Kerry the - Cladh ruadh," which ran into Limerick • 
and the -Rathduff," on the borders of Kilkenny and Carlow. The 
southern woi-ks are much more slightly marked and less authenticated 
than those of the north. 

Such defences also occur both in Great Britain and on the Conti- 
nent ; one of the former, - Offa's Dyke," is actually called - clawdd ", 
hke _ the Irish trenches.* This great earthwork was probably only 
repaired by the Prince whose name it bears (a.d. 760-790) The 
great -Devil's Dyke," in Cambridgeshire, is in places 90 feet high 
and 18 feet wide on the top. It is named in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle 
ui A.D.902; and admirers of Kingsley will remember the picturesque 
use made of this earthwork in the story of the escape of Hereward 
from King William's palace. Parallel to this entrenchment, but seven 
miles to the westward, is a similar work, the "Fleam Dyke" In 
.Scotland, several such works occur such as the " Catrail " at Allan 
water and " Herriot's Dyke" and the - Devil's Dyke." 

The most celebrated works are of course those thrown up by 
the Romans - across the waist of Britain " ; and we may recall how 
Caesar had long before constructed a mound and fosse from Lake Leman 
to Jura to check the advance of the Helvetii. The Danewirck, duff 
or reconstructed by Queen Thyra across Denmark in a. d. 808 is of 
similar nature. Also the great earthwork near Kertch, on the' Black 

* The name is also found at the promontory fort on St. David's Head, " Clawdd y Mihvyr " 
or " Warnors Dyke"-" Arch«,ologia Cambrensis," vr., ser. xv. (1875), \. 86 

From KL. lu. acad. tiuns., vol. xxxi.—v^ut xrv. ' m 

188 Westropi- — The Ancient ForU of Ireland. 

Sea.* The Irish works are scarcely " defensible"; a clue to their purpose 
might perhaps be found in " the second battle of Moytura," where the 
" track" of the Dagdae's fork leaves a furrow as large as " the boundary 
ditch of a province,"! were it iiot that they are too large and obstructive 
for simple mearings. 

150. The Bailees Cast, Down, &c. — The most remarkable early earthwork in Ireland is the great 
'■ Dane's Cast." It may be seen beside the railway from Kewry to Soarva, in Down. It commences 
at the stream between the townlands of Lisnagade and Scarva, and cannot be traced to the north 
of the rivulet. In Scarva it consists of two mounds, 40 feet apart, with fosses 8 feet wide and 
6 feet deep ; the mounds, 4 feet above the fields, and measuring 54 feet over all. On 0. S. map, 
No. 33, it runs up to a low knoll of rock, 300 feet wide, and fortified on the east side by a 
low wall, and ends near Lough Shark, on the border of Aimagh. It re-appears to the south 
of the lake, and continues past Poyntzpass to a drained lake. The "Cast" next passes into 
Ai-magh, tui-ning westward, and is cut through by the two railways from Newiy and Dublin 
(0. S. map, No. 29, Armagh). It re-appears to the south of Camlough, to the west of Newiy, 
and then it cur\-es round, past the lake and mountain, to Meigh, near the border of Ai-magh 
and Louth, some 16 or 18 miles in all. Other portions of earthworks attributed, but doubtfully, 
to the "Cast," occui' near Newtown Cottage, and to the south-east of Armagh town. Mr. Lett 
regards the work as having possibly been made to hold back the Ultonians, who had been pressed 
back into Down and Antrim by the wars of King Mm-edach, son of Fiachi-a, aided by the Collas, 
about A.D. 322. O'Donovan considered it to be the bounds of the district of Uriel, where it 
touched the hostile land of Clan Eughraide ; he traced it at Scarva and Creggan — the latter some 
eight miles fi-om the traces at Camlough. He thought he had found other traces at Carrickma- 
cross, in ilonaghan, and northwai'd in Farney and Dartry baronies, and fancied that the " Worm 
ditch" and " Duncladh" were portions of it ; but this theory would imply field-works 50 to 100 
mQes in length, and would necessitate a belief in such persistency of purpose in a transparently 
useless work as would certainly be more characteristic of the Chinese than of the Irish. The Cast 
is locally attributed to the formidable "Black Pig," which not only threw up trenches, but 
excavated whole valleys in TJlidia. Description — The Cast has often been noted ; but the only 
detailed and careful description, with a good map, is by Kev. W. H. Lett and E. J. Berry in the 
new Ulster Journal of Archaeology, vol iii., pp. 23, 67. 

151. Cladh na Pieste, or Worm Bitch, Cavan (0. S. No. 31), is a ciu'ved entrenchment, 
about a mile and a-quarter in length. The cladh is attributed to one of those alarming sei-pents, 
or piasts, which once (according to tradition) must have made this now snakeless island of 
thrilling interest to early naturalists. It commences in Ardkillmore, stai'ting from a ring-fort. 

* The Danewirck ran from sea to sea. Olaus Wormius describes it in " Monumentorum 
Danicorum Libri " (1643). Lib. i. " munimentum hoc vaUdius ac fiiinius multo aggeribus et 
fossis redidisse." — "Antiquities of Kertch and researches in the Cimmerian Bosphorus" (1857): 
Dr. D. Macpherson. f Revue Celtique, xii. (1891), p. 87. 

Westropp — The Ancient Forts of Ireland. \ 39 

152. Dimcladh, Longford, is about five miles long (0. S. map, Nos. 6, 10, 11). It 
commences near a fort at Lough Gowna, and, though much defaced, forms the bounds between 
Dring and Ballinulty. It passes through Clogh as a double rampart with fosses, and becomes 
the boundary of Aghnagarron and Tromra, passing about a mile to the north-east of Granard. 
It bounds Carragh and Ballinrud, cuts thi'ough Cartronbore, bounds Toberfelim, and passes 
through Tonymore north as a well-defined double mound to another ring-fort about a quarter 
of a mile fi-om Lough Kinale. It varies in height from 7 to 16 feet, and is attributed to the 
" Black Pig," which is said to have been slain at Ballinamuck or Swinesford near it. 

153. Cladh Ruadh, the " Cleeroe" Kerry. — It can now be traced only from near 
Cahercarbery cliff fort, on Kerry Head (0. S. map. No. 13), south-eastward and equitlistant 
from Ballyheige Bay. Slight traces re-appear to the east of Maulin Mountain, and end about 
8 miles from Kerry Head. We can find no recent evidence for the statement of C. Smith,* in 
1756, that it passed the Cashen river, and crossed over Knockanure Hill into Limerick. Were 
this true, it would have been about 18 or 19 miles long. 

154. Ardpatriclc, Limericlc. — We were shown slight traces of a double ditch to the north 
of the shattered church and Round Tower of Ardpatrick, in 1877. It was then said to have 
been made by the horns of St. Patrick's cow, and to have run northward to the Shannon. A line 
of pillar-stones from Lough Gur to Ludden Hill is supposed to be connected vrith this line of 
earthworks and the legend of the "Black Pig." It is called Boherliagan, and marked even on 
the Down Survey. It adjoins two sites called " Leaba na muice."f 

155. Rian ho Pafrich, Waferford. — This, like the last, is not marked on the maps. It 
lies to the east of Knoekmeildon, and is a double trench, which, like that at Ardpatrick, was 
attributed to the horns of St. Patrick's cow. Popular belief stated that it once extended from 
Ardmore to Cashel. Four miles from the former, some traces of a double ditch remain. 

156. Cladh Biibh, Waterford. — The Cleeduff runs at right angles to the last fi'om Cappoquin 
past Lismore, along the base of the Knoekmeildon Hills westward, into Cork. It is not marked 
on the maps. O'Donovan considers that these earthworks are ancient forts. 

157. Tradree, Clare. — Once possessed a work, 7 or 8 miles long; but, so far as we can 
discover, no trace of it remains. "The Wars of the Gaedhil with the GaiH"J states that the 
Danes "raised a fortifying bank all round Tradree." This, it would appear, was repaired by 
Sir Thomas de Clare in 1277. "The Wars of Turlough " tells how he made "abroad-based, 
high-crested rampart, with a ditch running from the stream (Owen na garna) to the sea " (tidal 
part of the Shannon) in Tradree. It is (on no farther authority) alleged to have extended fi-om 
Bunratty to Latoon. 

158. Ralhd'uff, Carlow. — Mercator, in his large scale map of Idrone (west), shows " Raduffe 
trenche," running west of Duninga and Finnerscourt and east of Shankill chiuxh, and forming 
the boimds of Gowran (Kilkenny) and Idi-oue down to the Barrow, opposite Kilcrot ; led by this, 
O'Donovan and O'Cun-y, in 1839, found slight traces at Kellymount Commons which au old man 
aged eighty remembered as distinct and half a mile long. Other traditions, at other places, said 
it had existed there a century before (1739). It was locally known as "The gripe (ditch) of 
the Black Pig."§ 

*- " State of the Coimty of Kerry," 1756, p. 219. \ R.S.A.I., vol. xxxi., p. 375 : 

Mr. J. Grene Barry. | p. 61. § MSS. R.I.A. : 0. S. Letters, Kilkenny, vol. ii., p. 254. 



Westkopp — The Ancient Forts of Ireland. 

VII. — Bibliography of some of the fuller Descriptions of Irish Forts. 








159. — Ulstkk. 

Raths in tlio neighbourhood of Belfust. — Francis J. Bigger : " Belfast Natm-alists' 
Field Club," iv. ser. ii. (Plans by B. LI. Praeger and F. W. Lockwood). 

Dundermot Mote. — H. J. Monk Mason : " Statistical Survey of Antrim." 

Loughnacrannagh. — A. M'Henry : Proc. R.I. A., vol. ii., ser. ii. 

Connor, Subterranean Chambers at. — " Ulster Journal of Archeology," vi. 

Eman Macha. — H. D'Aibois de Jubainville and Rev. Maxwell H. Close : Revue 
Celtique (1895). 

Emania. — Dr. W. Reeves (Bishop of Down and Connor) : " Ancient Churches 
of Armagh " (1860). 

Dorsey Dun.— Rev. H. W. Lett : R.S.A.I., vol. xxviii. (1898). 

Vitrified forts (Shantamon). — Rev. Cfesar Otway : Trans. R.I. A., xiii. ; Rev. 
W. P. Moore: Proc. R.I.A., vol. v. (1850-53). 

Moneygashel, Cashel.— Seaton F. Milligan : R.S.A.I., vol. xxi. (1890, 1891). 

Grianan Ailcach. — George Petrie : " Ordnance Survey, Parish of Templemore, 
Londonderry." Its restoration. — Dr. Walter Bernard: Proc. R.I. A., vol. i., 
ser. ii. (1879). 

Downpatrick Mote. — Thomas Molyneux : "Danish Mounts," &c. (1725). 

Forts of County Down, Waringstown, Donaghadee, Dromore, Crown Rath, and 
Giant's Ring. — "Ancient and Present State of the County Down" (1744). 

Dromore, Downpatrick, &e. — Rev. J. Dubourdieu : "Statistical Survey of 

"The Great Wall of UHdia" (Dane's Cast), Down and Armagh.— Rev. H. W. 
Lett, and R. G. Berry (Plans by W. J. Fennell) : " Ulster Journal of Archaeo- 
logy" (new) iii. 

"Giant's Sconce," Dunboe. — Rev. G. W. Sampson: "Statistical Survey of 

Tullaghog Fort, near Dungannon. —Herbert Hore : " Ulster Journal of Archaeo- 
logy," vol. V. (Plan by Arthiu- Quigley). 

160. — Leixstei!. 

Kihlare, . Antiquities of Curragh of Kildare. — Captain A. Montgomery Moore : R.S.A.I., 

vol. ii., series ii. (1858-9). 
Mainham Mote and the Tomb of Buan.— Rev. M. Devitt: "Kildare Archseological 

Society," vol. i. 
Ardscull, Mullaghmast, &c. — Richai-d Gough : Camden's " Britannia," vol. iii. 

Westropp — The Ancient Forts of Ireland. 141 

Kilkenny, . . Forts of Earlsrath, Castlecomer, Eathbeatb, Listerlin, &c.— W. Tiglie : " Statis- 
tical Survey of the County of Kilkenny." 
Dunbell Eaths.— E. Hitchcock, E.S.A.T., iii. (1855). 
Antiquities Discovered in a Eath.— J. G. A. Prim : E.S.A.I., iii, ser. ii. 
Souterrain of a Eath. — Eev. James Graves : E.S.A.I., i., ser. iv. 
Gareendina Quadrangular Fort. — Dr. Charles Eoss : E.S.A.I., vi., ser. ii. 
Borrismore Eath.— Eev. W. Healy : E.S.A.I., i., ser. v. 
Portnascully Mote.— Dr. James Martin : E.S.A.I., ix., ser. iv. 
Kitchen Middens of Eaths. — E.S.A.I., vii., ser. iv. 
Louth,. . . Motes and Eaths in the County (Dundalk.Kilanny, Faughart, Greenmount,&c.). 
—Thomas Wright: "Louthiana" (1758). 
Exploration and Eunic Inscription in Greenmount. — Eev. George H. Eeade: 
E.S.A.I., i., ser. iv. (1875). 
MeatA, . . Antiquities of Tara.— Dr. George Petrie : Trans. E.I. A., xviii. 
Queen's County, Forts of (Aghaboe, Monachoghlan, Skirk, &o.)—" Statistical Survey of Queen's 

Westmeath, . Ardnurcher Mote. — John Brownrigg : Trans. E.I.A., ii. (1788). 
Giu-teen Eath.— Eev. W. Falkiner : Proc. E.I.A., vol. v., ser. iii. 
Mullaghcreevagh and Castletown.— L. C. Beaufort: Trans. E.I. A., xv. (1827). 
Usnach, Cemetery of.— (Sir) Samuel Ferguson : Proc. E.I. A., i., ser. ii. (1870). 
Wexford, . . The Mote of Ardamine.— " Dublin Penny Journal," 1834, p. 146. 

161. MUNSIEE. 

Clare, . . . Souterrains in Forts near Mortyclough. — Thomas Cooke : E.S. A.I. , i. (1848). 

Killaloe: its Eoyal Eesidences (Grianan Lachtna and Bealboruma). — T. J. 

Westropp: E.S.A.I., vol. xxiii. (1893). 
Prehistoric Stone Forts of Central Clare (Moghane, Langough, and Caherealla, 

with Plans and Views of Cahershaughnessy). — Same : ibid., vol. xxiv. 
Prehistoric Stone Forts of Northern Clare (Parts I. and II., Cahercommaun and 

the Inchiquin Forts).— Same : ibid., xxvi. (Part III., Ballykinvarga and the 

Forts near Kilfenora and the Corcomroe border). — Same : ibid., vol. xxvii. 
Prehistoric remains in the Burren (Carran and Kilcorney). — Same: Part I., 

xxviii. ; Part II., xxix. (Cahermacnole, Cahergrillaun, Caheranardurrish, &c.) 
Forts at Loop Head, Cliff Forts, &c. — Same : vol. xxviii. 
Prehistoric remains in Northern Clare (Caherdoonerish, Caherfeenagh, &c.).— 

Same : vol. xxxi. 
Cahers and their Names. — Same : Proc. E.I. A., vol vi., series iii. 
Mote of Magh Adhair and Caherealla Fort, near Q,mTi.—Ihid., vol. v., ser. iii. 
Cahershaughnessy.— A. Gethin Creagh and H. B. Harris : E.S.A.I., vol. xxiii. 
Cork, . . . Forts in County Cork.— Colonel Fox and Eichard Caulfield : "Gentleman's 

Magazine," 1865, vol. 2 ; Eeprints, Archaeology, i. 





Westeopp — The Ancient Forts of Ireland. 

Lisheenagreiny Fort and Ogam, Caves, &c. — Eichard R. Brash : R.S.A.I., i., 

series iii. (1868). 
Cashel, Knockdrum. — Canon Brougham : " Journal Cork Historical and Archceo- 

logieal Society," vol.ii. (1893). 
Forts of Coolnamuckiagh, &e. — John "WLndele's Notes : " Joiirnal Cork Historical 

and Archifiological Society," vol. iv., ser. ii. (1898). 
Rahinnane Castle and Rath. — R. Hitchcock : R.S.A.I., vol. i. (1848). 
Ballydunlea Fort and Souterrain. — Same : ihid., vol. i. ser. iii. (1868). 
Caherconree. — John Windele : "Ulster Joumal of Archseology," viii. (1860); 

P. J. Lynch: R.S.A.I., vol. xxix. (1899). 
Staigue Fort. — General Charles Vallancey : "An Ancient Stone Theatre" 

(1788); F. C. Bland: Trans. R.I.A., vol. xiv. (1825). 
Ballycarbery. — Gr. Wilkinson : " Practical Geology and Ancient Architecture 

of Ireland" (1845). 
Staigue, Cahergel, Dunheg, "Fort of the Wolves," Magharees. — E., Earl of 

Dunraven : " Notes on Irish Architecture," vol. i. 
Fahan, &c. — George V. DuNoyer : "Archaeological Journal," vol. xv. (1858). 
Ancient Settlement in Corcaguiny. — R. Macalister: Trans. R.I. A., vol. xxxi. 
Cahercullaun, Ballycarbery, &c. — Lady Chatterton : " Rambles in the South- 
West of Ireland." 
Staigue, Fahan, Caherdorgan, Cahercullaun, &c. — T. J. Westropp : R.S.A.I., 

vol. xxvii. (1897). 
Excavations in Rath Middens. — R. J. Ussher : R. S.A.I. , vol. vii., ser. iv. (1885-6). 
Casey's Liss, BaUygunnermore. — Rev. P. Power : R.S.A.I., vol. viii., ser. iv. 

The Mote of Lismore and Rath and Souterrain of Cluttahinny. — T. J. Westropp, 

R.S.A.I., vol. xxvii. (1897). 


Galtcay, . . Aran Isles, Dun Aenghus, Dun Onaght, Dun Oghil, Dubh Cathair, Dun Conor, 
Dun Moher, and Inishere. — E., Earl of Dunraven : " Notes on Ancient Irish 
Architecture," vol. i. 

Aran Forts. — C. C. Babbington : " Archaeologia Cambrensis," vol. iv., ser. iii. 

Date of Dun Aenghus. — Dr. Henry Colley March : " Joumal, Society of Anti- 
quaries" vol. XV., ser. ii. (London, 1894). 

Aran Isles.— T. J. Westropp, R.S.A.I., vol. xxv. (1895). 

Aran Isles. — Series of Articles in the " Irish Builder," commencing April 15, 

Ancient Villages, Ballynasean, &e. — G. H. Kinahan : Proc. R.I. A., vol. x., ser. i. 

Westeopp — The Ancient Forts of Ireland. 


Galway, . . Lough Bola and Lough Skannive Stone Crannoges. — G. H. Kinahan : E.S.A.I., 

vol. i,, ser. iii. (1868-9). Col. Layard : ihid., xxvii. (1897) and xxix. (1899). 
Cahermugachane and Cahercugeola.— Rev. Jerome Fahy : " Diocese of Kilmac- 

Trilithic Gateway of Renvyle Rath, Connemara. — G. H. Kinahan: R.S.A.I. 

(1868-9), vol. i., ser. iii. 
Mayo, . . . Dunnamoe.— "W. F. Wakeman: R.S.A.I., vol. xix. (1889). 

Dun Fiachia, Doonvinalla, &c. — Dr. C. R. B. Browne : Proc. R.I.A., vol. iii., 

ser. iii. 
Knockfarnacht. — T. J. Westropp : R.S.A.I., vol. xxviii. 
Forts in the County (Moytura — Cong, Caherbiel or Cahermore, CahergeiTode, 

&c.).— Sir W. Wilde : " Lough Con-ib." 
Roscommon, . Rathcroghan. — R. R. Brash: "Ogham inscribed Monuments," ch. xiii ; Sii- S. 

Ferguson : Proc. R.I. A., vol. i., ser. ii. 
Sliffo, . . . Cashel Baun and Innismurray Cashel. — E., Earl of Dumaven : " Notes on 

Ancient Irish Architecture," vol. i. 
Cashelore, or the " Bauven Crin."— S. K. Kirker : R.S.A.I., vol. xxiv. (1894). 
Deerpark.' — Colonel Wood- Martin : "Rude Stone Monuments." 
Caher on Slievemore, Achill. — Same : ibid. 

InnismiuTay Cashel. — W. F. Wakeman: R.S.A.I., vol. xviii. (1887-8). 
Forts in the County (Lissadell, Lisnalurg, Dunfore, Cashelore, Doonamuny, 

Magheranrush, Deerpai-k, &c.). — S. F. MiUigan : R.S.A.I., vol. xxi. 

That this Bibliography is incomplete is sufficiently manifest, but of other notes and papers on 
Irish forts, at least in the proceedings of the lesser Irish Societies, it must be noted either that 
the descriptions are vague and general, or that description is excluded in favour- of theory. Even 
some of the above papers are very slight, but contain facts of importance. 

The Ordnance Survey " letters," while containing many masterly descriptions, as a rule pass 
by the forts with vague notice. Those, for example, of Clare, never (save in the defaced and 
commonplace Caher on Roughan Hill and the mote of Magh Adhair) being described in detail, 
while the notes on the mainland forts of Galway and many of the most instructive cahers, notably 
Fahan, in Kerry, are passed by or only slightly mentioned. 

Tor^ l^J'^ ^ 

ULondorxdercy, ANTRIM 
.'-■•.. LONDON-'- 

•-.... -,-OERRY. ^-7 6, 

TYRONE y 4eljastl, ^ 

■ ■- .•,••*--: '.v. DOWN _ . 

.• >^ON^GHftN• ^''■ 




/LONG-^f^ , ^,. "'^4' ^ .v•t?^°^^^^''■ 



KING'S COUNTY- "^ '■^V' "--••• -•- 
, \OARE*'' 

.K.,)- /'•'- ^^o'5nty'-\^'.V*^: 

•^ - <S^tiCw~-<^^7;; „5,AdaTe '^^ -"^h^^ 'T^^'l-KEN-'^'^ryrfvo 
-°Vf u. ai;iERi^ >:^ r •^^^^•' ^5 -NY V'^'^'' 
^kk'^-" '; S ......8 . ■••■,TVppfra?s 1 •«<- /'l^-^S^ 

^KilUrntv( CORK 

^ "Wexjori 



• BingFort- 

vV Groiq? of Torts- 

A Promontory Torts. 

A Motes. 
= = =■ EiilrencKm.eal5. 

M City or Town . 
"■■'"Province • 


Westropp — The Ancient Forts of Ireland. 



Map of Ireland, 





showing some of the principal Cahcrs, Raths, and Motes, and the Sites of 
Promontory Forts. 

1. Dunluce. 2. Dunseverick. 3. Kenbane. 4. RatUin (Carravindoon). 
5. Doonineeny. 6. MacArt's Fort. 7. Conor. 8. Donegore. 
1. Emania. 2. Dane's Cast. 3. Dorsey Dun. 
1. LeigUin Bridge. 2. St. Mnllins Mote (note the " Rathduffe trench " 

on border of Kilkenny). 
1. Kilmore Mote. 2. "Worm Ditch. 

1. Caherdooneerish. 2. Moher Fort. 3. Doon hill fort. 4. Ballykin- 
varga. 5. Feenagh and Lismacsheedy. 6. Mortyclough and Parkmore. 

7. Caheranardurrish and Cahercashlaun. 1 to 8. Barren Group. 

9. Cahercommaun and Cashlaun Gar. 10. Caliershauglmessy. 

11. Magh Adhair Mote. 12. Grianan Lachtna. 13. Bealboruma. 

14. Cahercalla. 15. Moghane. 16. Langough. 17. Cahemagat. 

18. Donegal. 19. Doonaunroe. 20. Dunlieka. 21. Doondoillroe. 

22. Dunmore, Loop Head. 
1. Beare Island; Doonbeg. 2. Dooneen. 3. Doonlea. 4. Toe Head ; 

Doon. 5. Dooneendermot. 6. Dunoure. 7. Dimdeady. 8. Galley 

Head; Doon. 9. Dunnycove. 10. Seven Heads; Dunworley. 

11. Dun Cearnmna. 12. Big and Little Doon. 13. Cashel. 

14. Caherkereen. 15. Caherdeadha. 16. Cahermoygilliar. 

17. Caherbla. 18. Doon, near Blarney. 19. Knockadoon. 
1. Dun Balor, Tory Island. 2. Duncap. 3. Dooan or Greenfort. 

4. Dunree. 5. DunafE. 6. Dunaldragh. 7. Dungolgan. 8. Dun- 
more. 9. Grianan Aileach. 
1. Dromore Mote. 2. Dane's Cast. 3. Giant's Ring. 4. Crown Mount 

Mote. 5. Downpatrick Mote. 
1. Garden Fort, Lambay. 2. Dunsoghley Motes. 3. Duncriffan, Howth. 

4. Ballymount Mote. 5. Rathmichael. 
1. Feenagh Group. 2. Mullymeskar. 
1. Dun Aenghus, Aran. 2. Dun Oghil. 3. Dubh Cathair. 4, Dun 

Conor, Inishere. 5. O'Brien's Castle Fort, Inishmaan. 6. Lough 

Bola. 7. Lough Skannive. 8. Cahirgel. 9. Headford and Lough 

Hackett Groups. 10. Kilskeagh. 11. Caheradrine. 12. Dunkellin 

Group. 13. Cahercugeola and Lough Cooter Group. 14. Loughrea 

Group. 16. lUaun Carbeiy. 







Westropp — The Ancient Foris of Ireland. 



King's County, 


Mayo, . 


Queen^s County, 

Roscommon, . 
aiigo, . 
Tifperary, . 


1. Doon. 2 and 3. Caliercarbery. 4. The Cladhruadh. 5. Magharees. 

6. Smerwick Group. 7. Ballynavenooragli Group. 8. Cahereullaun 

and Dingle Group. 9. Doon Point. Ferriter's Castle. 10. Doonmore. 

11. Dunbeg and Fahan Group. 12. Doon Fort and Giant's Grave. 

13 and 14. Dunsheane. 15. Caherconree. 16. Doon or Eeena- 

caheragh. 17. Ballycarbery. 18. Derrynane Cabers. 19. Staigue. 

20. Caliercrovdearg. 
1. Maiubam Mote. 2. Clane Mote. 3. Old Connell Mote. 4. Dowdens- 

town Mote and Sillagb. 5. Dun Ailinn. 6. Naas Mote. 7. Mul- 

lagbmast. 8. ArdscuU Rath.* 9. Kilkea Mote. 
1. Castlecomer. 2. Dunbell. 3, Callan Mote. 4. Earlsrath. 
1. Durrow. 
1. Edentinny. 
1. Sbannid. 2. Kilbradran. 3. Green Island. 4. Ardagh. 5. Desmond's 

Castle Fort, Adare. 6. Croom Fort. 7. Drombanny Castle and Fort. 

8. Bruree. 9. Lougb Gur. 10. Ardpatrick Rian Bo. 11. Kilfinnane 

1. Dunfanaghy. 2. Giant's Sconce (Dun Ceitbern). 3. Dunboe. 

4. Sandel Mount. 

1. Dun Cladh. 2. Granard Mote. 

1. Dundalk. 2. Loutb. 3. Killanny Mote. 4. Greenmount Mote. 

1. Dunaneiair. 2. Doonamoe. 3. Spinkadoon. 4. Dun Fiachra. 

5. Doonanierin. 6. Doonvinallia. 7. Doonbristy. 8. Breastagh. 

9. Doony. 10. Clare Island. 11. Cahir Island. 12. Kilcashel. 
13. Moytura Cong. 14. Moyne. 15. Castle Hag. 

1. Derver Mote. 2. Donagbpatrick Mote. 3. Navan Mote. 4. Slieve 

na Calliagb. 5. Tara Group. 6. Eath Maeva. 7. Slane Mote. 

8. Newgrange Group. 9. Drogbeda Mote. 
1. Clones Mote. 2. Emyvale. 3. Iniskeane Mote. 
1. Agbaboe. 2. Monaghcogblan. 3. Dunamase. 4. Skirk. 5. Kille- 

shin Mote. 
1. Rathcroghan. 2. Cabernascreg. 
1. CashelBaun. 2. Kuocknarea. 
1. Asbpark. 2. Dunobill Mote. 

Mote. 5. Knockgraffan Mote 

8. Cooleagh Group. 
1. Mary Gray Group. 2. Clogher Mote. 

3. Deerpark. 4. "Moytura." 
3. Tipperary Hills Mote. 4. Kilfeakle 
6. Cashel Group. 7. Ratbnadrinnagb. 

* It is noteworthy how two roads run straight to this fort, and probably represent old tracks. 
It is figured in Gough's " Camden's Britannia," vol. iii. Plate xxv., p. 483. 

Westkopp — The Ancient Forts of Ireland. 147 

Waterfmd, . .1. Lismore. 2. Rian Bo. 3. Cladhdubh. 4. Ballynarrid Doon. 5. Dun- 

brattan. 6. Green Island. 7. Islandikane. 8. Garrarus. 9. "Westtown. 

10. Coolum. 11. Doonmore (Shanoon). 
Westmeath, . .1. Moate. 2. Churchtown. 3. Usnaeli. 4. Fore Mote. 5. Eahue 

Mote : Ardnurcher lies N.W. fi-om this. 
Wexford, . .1. Ardamine Mote. 2. New Ross. 3. Rathmore. 4. Salville. 

5. Donamon. 6. Blackwater Group of straight-sided Forts. 
WicUow, . .1. Rathnageeragh. 2. Rathcoran. 3. Motamoy. 4. Merginstown. 

(Rathgel lies east from the last). 

In concluding so imperfect a work, as I feel this paper to be (though at 
present it is beyond my power to make it more complete, save by heaping 
up descriptions of various other forts, which would scarcely be desirable in 
an essay like this), it would be presumption on my part to attempt to 
dogmatise on any of the countless questions connected with the forts of 
Ireland. My own belief is simple enough, namely, that types of defensive 
works were originated in eastern Europe by the adaptation of early Greek 
culture to the wants of less advanced tribes. That these building traditions 
originated at least 1200 years before our era, and by their simplicity and 
elasticity held their own till as many centuries of our era had passed 
away. Practised by many races, and over a large tract of country, 
they finally died out, like so many other arts, systems, and beliefs, on the 
farthest bounds of the old world, and the western ocean, among the Irish. 

I may notice five points in reference to this paper: — 1. The want 
of uniformity in the "sections"; but even the shortest section contains 
an independent subject. 2. The repetition of certain facts and quotations, 
because they have more than one bearing on the subjects in hand. 
3. The necessity of grouping the plans has sometimes separated cognate 
types of forts. 4. The shortness of the Bibliography ; for I did not con- 
sider it necessary to collect any but definite descriptions of forts, and the 
bare allusions to these structures in county histories, and even in papers 
published by antiquarian societies, cannot be classed under this head.* 

* The modern county histories treat the forts with even greater neglect than their predeces- 
sors of a century ago. The local societies keep to more " popular " subjects. 


148 WicsTROPP — The Ancient Forts of Ireland. 

5, Lastly, the iudex refers to the sections, and not to the pages, m order 
the better to mamtain the identity of the paper. 

I have only the pleasant task left of asking the friendly correction and 
indulgent criticism of my readers, and thanking the many kind friends 
whose assistance rendered this Paper less imperfect than it might other- 
wise have been. As always in these studies I must first acknowledge the 
help of my relations, Mrs. O'Callaghan, of Maryfort, Colonel George 
O'Callaghan Westropp, of Coolreagh, the late Dr. William H. Stacpoole 
Westropp, of Lisdoonvarna, and Mrs. Macdonnell, jun., of Newhall, county 
Clare, and of my friends Dr. G-eorge U. Macnamara and the Rev. John 
Bolton Greer, in the same county, who by every means in their power, 
and for many years helped me to collect and revise my notes on the forts 
of Clare, Galway, and the neighbouring counties. Many other friends have 
given me valuable suggestions and aid.* I may thank more especially 
Mr. Robert Cochrane, Mr. James Mills, Deputy Keeper of the Records of 
Ireland, Dr. E, P. Wright, Dr. Robert Munro, Dr. David Christison, Mr. 
George Coffey, and Mr. Standish Hayes O'Grady. Dr. Charles Browne 
and Mr. H. T. Knox gave me some valuable help with the forts of Mayo, 
for in this field, as in Cork, little has yet been published. I have also to 
thank Dr. Robert Atkinson for kind help and criticism with regard to 
certain allusions to the cahers in ancient Irish documents; I must again 
record my debt of gratitude to the late Dr. William Frazer, and the late 
Mr. William Copeland Borlase, and acknowledge acceptable jjhotographic 
help from Mr. Knox, Mrs. Shackleton of Lucan, and Miss Parkinson of 
Ennis. So wide, indeed, has been my indebtedness that I almost deter- 
mined to refrain, save in general terms, from thanking those interested in 
prehistoric archeeology, who gave me direct heljj in my attempt to bring 
together as a step towards more advanced study, the main outlines of our 
knowledge of the forts of earth and stone of ancient Ireland. 

* The Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland most kindly lent the blocks of illustrations of 
Dorsey, Innismurray (3), Staigue, Moneygashel, Lough Skannive and Carran forts. Mr. Cochi-ane 
and Mr. Mills added to theii- many acts of kindness that of reading these pages for press. 

Westropp — The Ancient Forts of Ireland. 



\_The Numbers refer to Sections, not Pages. '\ 

Abattis in forts, 51 ; Views, figs. 4, 6, 7. Plates 
in., vn. 

Age of forts, 32, 37. 

Alsace-Lon'aine, forts in, 1 1 . 

Annascaul, KeiTy, forts near, 55. 

Antrim, Co., forts, 61, 110, 120, 128, 134, 135, 159. 

Aran Isles, Galway, 49, 69, 81, 94, 123. 

Ardniu'clier mote, Westmeath, 159. 

Ardpatrick, Limerick, fosses, 54. 

Ai-magh, County, forts, 71, 77, 150, 159. 

Austria, forts in, 11, 12. See also Bosnia. 

Authors of Descriptions of Irish Forts, 159-162. 
Babbington, C. C. ; Beaufort, L. C. ; Bernard, 
Dr. W. ; Bigger, F. J. ; Bland, F. C. ; Brash, 
E. R. ; Brougham, Canon ; Browne, Dr. C. ; 
Brownrigg, J. ; Caulfield, E. ; Chatterton, 
Lady ; Close, Eev. M. H. ; Cooke, J. ; Creagh, 
A. G. ; Dubourdieu, Eev. J. ; DuNoyer, G. V. ; 
Duni-aven, E., Earl of ; Fahy, Eev. Dr. ; 
Falkiner, Eev. "W. ; Ferguson, Sii- S. ; Fox, 
Col. ; Harris, H. ; Healy, Rev. W. ; Hitch- 
cock, E. ; Hore, Herbert ; Jubainville, M. 
D'Arbois ; Xinahan, G. H. ; Kirker, S. K. ; 
Layard, Col. ; Lett, Eev. H. "W. ; Lynch, P. J. 
Macalister, R. A. S. ; M'Henry, A. ; March, 
Dr. C. ; Mason, H. M. ; Milligan, S. F. ; 
Molyneux, T. ; Moore, Capt. A. M. ; Moore, 
Eev.W.P.; Otway, Rev. C. ; Petrie, Dr. Geo.; 
Power, Rev. P. ; Prim. J. G. A. ; Reade, Rev. 
G. H. ; Reeves, Dr. "W., Bishop of Down; 
Ross, Dr. C. ; Rotheram, E. C. ; Sampson, 
Rev. G. V. ; Tighe, W. ; Ussher, R. ; 
Vallancey, General C. ; "Wakeman, "W. F. ; 
"Westi-opp, T. J. ; WUde, Sir W. ; Wilkinson, 
G. ; Windele, J. ; Wood-Martin, Colonel ; 
Wright, T. 

Baden, forts in, 18. 

Ballyallaban, Clare, 47. 

Ballycarbery, KeiTy, 100. 

Ballyheabought, Ken-y, 58. 

Bally kin vai-ga, Clare, 51, 98. Plate vn. 

Ballynavenooragh, Kerry, 58. 

Batter in fort walls, 48. 

Bayeiix Tapestiy. Motes shown 1 (f) 48. 

Bibliography, 159-162. 

Bohemia, forts in, 12. 

Bosnia Herzegovina, forts in, 8. 

Brandenburgh, forts in, 17. 

Britain, forts in, 28-31. 

Brittany, forts in, 24. 

Burren, Clare, forts in, 75. 

Caherahoagh, Clare, ladder steps, 48. 
Caheranardurrish, Clare. Plate vui. 
Caheradrine, Galway, 95. Plate vi. 
Cahercommane, Clare, triple fort, 58, 96. 
Caherconree, Kerry, 127. Plate i. 
Cahercrofinn, Meath, 72. 
Cahercrovdearg, Kerry, 99. 
Caheroullaun, Kerry, 101. 
Cahercuttine, Clare, 48, 49; figs. 13, 23. 
Caherdooneerish, Clare, 47. 
Caherdorgan, Kerry, 58. 
Cahergel, Galway, 48, 93. 
Cahergel, Kerry, 100. 
Cahermacnaughten, Clare, law college, 42. 
Cahermore-Kilskeagh, Galway, 85. 
Cahermoygliar, Cork, 106. 
Cahemamau'tineach, Kerry, 58. 
Caherribert, Galway, 116. 
Cahersavaun, Clare, lake fort, 113. 
Cahersavaun, Kerry, 49. 


Westropp — The Ancient Forts of Ireland. 

Cahershaughnessy, Clare, double-walled fort, 84. 

Caherspeenaun, Mayo, axes found in, 90. 

Carlow, County, forts in, 128, 158. 

Carran forts, Clare. Plate vin. 

Cashel (Knoekdrum), Cork, 107. 

Cashel (ClasHnimid), Cork, 82. 

Cashlaun Gar, Clare, rock fort, 50, 97. 

Castles buUt in forts, 36. 

Cattle kept in forts, 43. 

Cavan, County, forts in, 88, 151, 159. 

Cladh dubh, Waterford, 156. 

Cladiruadh, Kerry, 153. 

Clare, County, forts in, 47, 49, 50, 58, 75, 79, 83, 

84, 96-98, 113, 117, 120, 124, 128, 133, 161. 
Cliffl forts, 1 (c.), 87, 97. 
Clogber, Tyrone, 139. 
Corcaguiny, Kerry, forts in, 65. 
Cork, County, forts in, 82, 106, 107, 120, 158. 
Corn-wall, forts in, 30. 
Crown Mound mote, Down, 138. 

Dalmatia, forts in, 7. 

Danes alleged to bave built forts, 39. 

Dane's Cast, fosses, Armagh and Down, 150, 159. 

Denmark, forts in, 21. 

Derrer mote, Meath, 134, fig. 25. 

Desertion of forts, 36. 

Devil in fort names and legends, 3, II, 20, 149. 

Dolmens in forts, 64, 27, 31 ; near forts, 63. 

Donaghpatrick mote, Meatb, 142. 

Donegal, County, forts in, 76, 120, 159. 

"Doon," see "Dun." 

Doon fort, Clare, 54. 

Dorsey Dun, Armagh, 77. Plate v. 

Down, County, forts in, 89, 134, 136-139, 150, 

Downpatriek mote, 136, 159. 
Drawbridge in fort, 50. 
Dromore mote, Down, 137. 
Dubh Cathaii-, Aran, 23, 51. Plate in. 
Dublin, City, Thingmotc, 60 ; raths, 2. 

County, forts in, 50, 60, 120, 128. 

"Dun," "Dimum," name, 3. 

Dun Aenghus, Aran, 47, 51, 81. Plates ii., m. 

Dun AOinn, Kildare, 78. 

Dunbeg, Kerry, 126. 

Dunbell raths, Kilkenny, finds m, 38. 

Dimcladh, Longford, 152. 

Dun Conor, Aran, 94. Plate iii. 

Dundermot, Antrim, 135. 

Dunfiachra, Mayo, 121. 

Dungorkin, Londonderry, 109. 

DunkeUin, Galway, forts in, 68. 

Dunmore, Clare, 124. 

Dunmore, Kerry, 125. 

Dunnamoe, Mayo, 58, 122. 

Dunohill mote, Tipperary, 146. 

Earlsrath, Kilkenny, 118. 

Earthworks, long, 21, 149-157. 

Edentinny, Leitiim, 51. 

Emania, Annagh, 36; description, 71, 159. 

England, forts in, 30. 

Esthonia, forts in, 13. 

Fahan, Kerry, 52, 57, 58, 102. 
Fairs held at forts, 46. 
Fermanagh, County, forts in, 119. 
"Finds" in forts, 38. 
Firbolgs as fort-buiklers, 39. 
Flint implements found in forts, 38. 
France, forts in, 23-27. 

Galway, County, forts in, 50, 67, 68, 81, 85, 
93-95, 111, 112, 116, 120, 128, 162. See also 
Aran Isles. 

Gareendina, Kilkenny, square fort, 160. 

Gateways of forts, 50. 

Gennany, forts in, 15-20. 

Giant's Ring, Down, 89. 

Giant's Sconce, Londondeny, 49, 87, 159. 

Glenquin, Cahennorc, Clare, 1 (a). Plate vii. 

Gold foimd in forts, 38. 

Greece, forts in, 5. 

Green of a fort, 63. 

Grecnmount mote, Louth, 140. 

Grianan Aileach, Donegal, 56, 76, 159. 

Grianan Lachtna, Clare, 75. 

Westropp — The Ancient Forts of Ireland. 


Hammer work on forts, 48. 
Hessen Nassau, forts in, 18. 
Hill forts, 61. 

Historic period, forts biiilt in, 34. 
Holed stones at forts, 50, 57. 
Holland, forts in, 22. 
Huamorian Firbolgs, 39. 
Huts, 58. 

lUaun Carbery lake fort, Galway, 111. 
Inauguration places, 46, 60, 133. 
Innismurray, Sligo, 48, 50, 86. 
Inscriptions (or scribings) at forts, 57. 
Island forts, 1 (b), 36, 109-114. 
Italy, forts in, 1 0. 

Keelaodb, Cork, 105. 

Kerry, County, forts in, 48, 50, 55, 57, 58 ; 

Corcaguiny, 65, 99, 100-105, 120, 125-127, 

153, 160. 
Kilbradran, Limerick, 108. 
Kilcashel, Mayo, 72. Plate v. 
Kildare, County, forts in, 78, 129, 134, 166. 
Kilfinnane mote. Limerick, 147. 
Kilkenny, County, forts in, 118, 128, 132, 134, 160. 
KiUala, Mayo, souteiTain, 55. 
Killaney mote, Louth, 141. 
Kincora fort, Clare, 75. 
King's County, forts in, 128. 
Knockaun fort, Clare, 58, 117. 

Langough Caber, Clare, 47, 83. 

Legends of forts, 4, 33. 

Leitrim, County, forts in, 51. 

Limerick, County, forts in, 108, 134, 147, 154. 

Lines of forts, 62. 

Lismore mote, "Waterford, 148. 

Lisrahiermid, Cork, 106. 

Listerlin mote, Kilkenny, 132. 

Literature, Irish, allusions to forts, 36. 

Loggan mote, Wexford, 145. 

Londonderiy, County, forts in, 87, 109, 134, 159. 

Longford, County, forts in, 128, 134, 152, 160. 

Loughadoon lake fort, Donegal, 114. 

Loughnacrannagh lake fort, Antrim, 110. 

Lough Skannive lake fort, Galway, 112. Plate vi. 
Louth, County, forts in, 128, 134, 140, 141, 160. 

Mac Art's fort, Antrim, 61. 

Magh Adhairmote, Clare, 46, 133. 

Marsh forts, 109. 

Masonry of forts, 48. 

Mayo, County, forts in, 55, 90-92, 120-122, 162. 

Meath, County, forts in, 55, 72, 128, 130, 134, 

142, 143, 160. 
Merginstown mote, Wicklow, 144. 
Moghane Caher, Clare, 79. 
Monaghan, County, forts in, 128. 
Monastic forts, 42. 
Moneygashel Caher, Cavan, 48, 87. 
Motes, simple, 1 (f), 128, 123; complex, 1 (g), 

Moyne Cashel, Mayo, 91. 
Mullymescar cross-fort, Fermanagh, 119. 

Names of forts in Em'ope, 3 j in Ireland, 3. 
Normandy, forts in, 25. 
Norse settlers in Ireland, 55. 
Number of Irish forts, 2. 

Ogham inscriptions in forts, 57. 
Oland, forts in, 14. 
Outworks of forts, 54. 

Palisaded motes, 48. 

Passages in walls, 55. 

Paving, 53, 110. 

PiUar stones at forts, 5 1 . 

Pirates as fort builders, 39. 

Plans of forts, 1, figs. 2-5, 11-13, 17-21, 23-26. 

Plinths in forts, 48. 

Portnascully mote, Kilkenny, 143. 

Promontory forts, 1 (e), 120-127. 

Prussia, forts in, 5. 

Queen's Coimty, forts in, 128, 131, 160. 

Ramparts of forts, 47. 
Rath Celtchair. See Downpatrick. 
Eathooran, Wicklow, 80. 
Eathcroghan, Roscommon, 73. 
Rathduff entrenchment, Carlow, 158. 


Westropp — The Ancient Forts of Ireland. 

Katlmiichael, Dublin, 50. 

Ratlmadi-innagli, Tipperary, fig. 23. 

Rectilinear forts, 115-119. 

Renvyle rath, Galway, 50. 

Rian bo patrick, "Waterford and Limerick, 154, 

Ring forts, 1 (a), 65-108. 
Roads, ancient, 53. 
Rock-cut trenches, 29, 54, 130. 
Roevehagh fort and tree, Galway, 60. 
Roscommon County, forts in, 73, 162. 
Roumania, forts in, 9. 
Riigen, fort and temple in, 16. 
Runic inscription in mote, 38. 

Scotland, forts in, 29. 

Scribings in forts, 57. 

Sepulture in forts, 44. 

Skirk Mote, Queen's County, 45, 131. 

Slane Mote, Meath, 130. 

SUgo County, forts in, 50, 86, 162. 

Slopes, forts on, 64. 

Sloping ascents, 129, 133. 

Souterrains, 55. 

Spearhead mould, 38. 

Staigue, Kerry, 48, 103. Plate i. 

Steps in forts, 49. 

Straight- walled forts, 1 (d), 115. 

Streets at forts, 53. 

Sunken ways, 54. 

Sweden, forts in, 14. 

Switzerland, forts in, 19. 

Tara, Meath, 72. 

Termonfeckin, fort builders' tomb, fig. 9. 

Terraces in forts, 49 ; on hills, 1 (i). 

Thessaly, forts in, 6. 

Tipperary County, forts in, 134, 146. 

Tradree, supposed earthwork in, 157. 

Traverses in forts, 52. 

Tiilithic gates, 50. 

Tullaghog, Tyrone, 159. 

Tyrone, County, forts in, 139, 159. 

Use of forts, 39. 
Usnach, Westmeath, 74. 

"Veneered" waUs, 48. 
Ventilating shafts, 55. 
Vitrified forts, 29, 159. 
Volo, fort near, 6. 

Wales, forts in, 31. 

" Warden's huts," 56. 

Water supply in forts, 59. 

Waterford County, forts in, 120, 134, 148, 155, 

156, 161. 
Westmeath County, forts in, 55, 74, 128, 134, 

Wexford County, forts in, 120, 128, 134, 145, 

Wicklow County, forts in, 80, 128, 134, 144. 
Worship, forts used for, 45. 


I. .1. Caherconree (Dr. Fogerty). 2. Staigue fort (W. Lawrence). 3. Inismurray 

(W. F. Wakeman). 

II. . Dun Aenghus, Aran. 1. The fort from east. 2. Gateway (T. J. Westropp). 

III. . Same. 1. The fort from west. 2. The abattis (same). 

IV. . 1. Dubh Cathair. 2. Dun Conor (Mrs. Shackleton). 

V. . 1. Dorsey Dun, Armagh (Rev. W. Lett). 2. Kilcashel, Mayo (Mr. H. T. Knox). 

VI. . 1. Lough Skarmive (Gen. Layard). 2. Caherdiine (T. J. Westropp). 

VII. 1. Glenquin Caber, Clare. 2. Ballykinvai-ga Caher, Clare (same). 

VIII. 1. Caheranardurrisb, Clare. 2. Can-an CUfE fort, Clare (same). 

Plate I. 

V'^r? /■•% '^XVA 



Plate II. 

DUN AiiNGHUs, i-KU.M CLllL". 


Plate III. 







^^^■W^^^B^IHI Ml III ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^k 



S*L ^-^ ^ s'^^^- 

jti^ "" ■ 


9^^^ ..' ''^ 


-WS^ta. '''^- 




Plate IV. 




Plate V. 



Plate VI. 



Plate VII. 



Plate VIII. 




3 1158 005 


University of California 


Return this material to the library 

from which it was borrowed. 


OCT 5 "y 

HAY 21 im 


1 1 ^ 

D 000 014 299