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Archaeology of the Burren: Prehistoric Forts and Dolmens in North Clare by Thomas Johnson Westropp

Part I: Kilnaboy Parish

Glasgeivnagh Hill; Knockaun Fort; Cahersavaun

Glasgeivnagh Hill [11]
This range of hills rises gradually from the west to a steep eastern cliff; the top is a plateau of fissured crags, with here and there a shallow valley, and in the spring is very attractive, abounding in gentians, anemones, and numerous ferns and flowers. The remains on this plateau call for some notice. I carefully examined them in company with Dr. George U. Macnamara, our Local Secretary, to whose wide traditional and topographical knowledge, and constant practical help, I am much indebted for the completion of this Paper; moreover, the crags are difficult, wearisome, and, even to some extent, dangerous to traverse, and not likely to be much visited.

Knockaun Fort (not to be confounded with Knockans townlands) stands on the ridge of Tullycommane, north of Cahercommane. It is not oval, as shown on the 6-inch Ordnance Survey map, but consists of a poorly built, slight wall, forming an angular enclosure on the crags. Inside is a souterrain of the usual type, two nearly parallel walls 3 feet apart, roofed by a slab about 7 feet square, and leading into an enclosure of slabs set on edge, 21 feet x 17 feet, with a door to the south flanked by two regular blocks like seats; smaller but somewhat similar structures exist at Ballyganner.

Several interesting remains lie westward along the ridge in line with each other and Knockaun fort: a large long cromlech, which the scope of this Paper does not permit me to describe; a circular caher of well-laid slabs, levelled to a couple of feet in height, its gate facing east-south-east; a circular cairn, its middle dug out, and reputed to have more fairies than all the other forts of the hill; near it a smaller cairn or giant’s grave: these crown a rounded green hill, possibly the ‘Tulach chumann,’ which gives the townland its name; a rath of earth and stones, south of it a thick-walled enclosure like a small house; finally, crossing the road, we find a small fort nearly levelled, and a larger caher, part of its western segment well preserved, with traces of a second ring nearly 300 feet in diameter. A short distance N.E. from this is the hamlet of Castletown, with a lofty fragment of one of the O’Loughlin’s castles; passing round the hill we find north of the road:-

Cahersavaun [12]
A well built fort of large blocks, which in winter forms a sort of crannoge in the temporary lough of Castletown, it surrounds a knoll on the very edge of Tullycommane, and indeed of the baronies of Inchiquin and Burren. Its gateway faces S.E., and is destroyed.

Again ascending the ridge, we pass a late-looking enclosure, near which, in the rock, are three basins, so regular as to suggest their being artificial.

In Cappaghkennedy, east of Knockaun, is a large cairn, at the highest point of the ridge, 780 feet above the sea, with a noble view across Galway and Clare, from Loughrea and Kilmacduagh ruins to Cratloe and Inchiquin. Near it is a fine cromlech quite perfect, and long inhabited by poor families, though now unoccupied; at which is a block with three very small cup-markings, and two more just marked out, bearing distinct trace of having been picked, and not ground. [13]

Cahersavaun in Winter
Cahersavaun in Winter

 

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