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

Part I: Kilfenora: Footnotes

1. ‘Trans. R.I.A.’, xv. (1828), p. 37.

2. Dublin University Magazine’, Jan. 1853, vol. xli., p. 505, ‘Caherflaherty’ is, I suppose, the name ‘Caherlahertagh’; besides this mistake we have ‘the outer circumvallation’ which never existed. The writer seems not to have seen the 6-inch Survey.

3. Ord. Survey Letters, Clare, vol. i., p. 287. Dunraven’s ‘Notes,’ vol. i., p. 18. Du Noyer’s ‘Sketches,’ R.S.A.I., vol. vii.

4. The (alleged) poem by Flan Mainistrech given in the Book of Fenagh, p. 121, mentions ‘the pillar stone in the principal door of the cathair,’ circa 1050. Caher gates were sufficiently familiar to furnish illustrations, even in legendary literature, e.g., ‘The Hunt of Sliab Truim,’ p. 115, for a ‘piast (monster) with ears as large as the gate of a caher.’

5. At Tiryns, but not at Mycenæ. Also at Möhne in the Baltic.

6. Compare plans, p. 147, Nos. 7, 8, ‘Journal’, 1896, and 1893, p. 288. Possibly these were both enclosures for wooden huts and to pen cattle. Iuchna the Firbolg kept herds of cows in his liss (‘Silva Gadelica’, ii., p. 131), and each of the stone forts, stormed and burned near Ventry, harboured 150 men, besides women, children, horses, and dogs. (‘Cath Fintraga’, edited by Dr. Kuno Meyer, p. 5.)

7. Chevaux de frise also occur at Dun Aenghus and Dubh Caher, Aran (Dunraven’s ‘Notes,’ I. pp. 6, 10. Our ‘Journal’, 1895, pp. 257, 258, and 266); Dunamoe, Mayo (‘Journal’, 1889, p. 182); Pen Caer Helen, Caernarvon (‘Archæologia Cambrensis’, series iv., vol. 12, p. 345, and vol. 14, p. 192, with fine views), ‘large stones, with sharp slate splinters, set between’ (‘Archæolog. Journal’, xxv., p. 228. The writer considers this fort earlier than an adjoining Roman camp). Cademuir and Dreva, Peebleshire (‘Proc. Soc. Ant., Scot.’, 1866, pp. 21, 24). The ‘monumental theory,’ in ‘Pagan Ireland’, p. 186, is very improbable. ‘Archæologia Cambrensis’, 1870, p. 286, describes one at Castel coz, Finistère, France, a pre-Roman fort on a headland.

8. This feature occurs in a prehistoric fort, or ‘bauerberge,’ in the Island of Möhne, in the Gulf of Riga, where also a passage runs slantwise to the gate.

9. In old Irish works note ‘a pillar-stone on the green before a rath’ (Táin Bo Cuail-gne). Fergus fights a battle in this very district of Burren from ‘cloch comuir to the stone of meeting by the three mounds of walled fortresses’ (Poem of Seanchan, circa A.D 647, in Book of Lecan). Pillar-stones were erected to celebrate victories, and cairns heaped to commemorate slaughters (Leabhar na h-Uidhri, p. 86), &c.

10. This is not unusual, e.g. Inismurray (our ‘Journal’, 1885, p. 98), Hillsborough, Devon (‘Gentleman’s Magazine’, 1865, Part II., pp. 715, 716), and several Cornish forts (Royal Inst. Cornwall, 1863, p. 60). We also find it in old writers as Adamnan, where Columba prophesies the well near a fort will be defiled with blood; and ‘Colloquy of the Ancients’ for a hidden well on the south side of a fort (‘Silva Gadelica’, p. 195. also pp. 103, 131). Capt. O’Callaghan Westropp (Member) suggests that the well was excluded to preserve it from pollution.

11. Possibly hut sites, as at Caherconree, Kerry (Ulster Journal, viii., p. 118); Eildon Hill (‘Proc. Soc. Ant., Scot.’, 1895, p. 128, and ‘Blackhill,’ p. 143) and early British villages (‘Brit. Archæol. Assoc.’, 1846. p. 155; Prehistoric ‘Annals of Scotland,’ and ‘Soc. Ant., Normandy’, 1835, p. 317). They also occur in Pen-y-ddinas above Llandudno and Penselwood on the borders of Dorset, Somerset, and Wiltshire, where many hundreds occur round a circular fort.

12. I believe that traces of the hammer occur at Cahermore-Roughan, Ballykinvarga, and Caherminane, all border forts of the Burren.

13. This is not uncommon in the forts of Clare, and even occurs in the ancient stone fort on a peninsula near Sebenico, in Dalmatia (‘Land of the Bora’, p. 56).

14. Mac Liag’s poem, as translated by Ossianic Society (vol. v., p. 287), says: ‘They placed Daelach at Dael. Aenach constructed a dun in his neighbourhood.’ Two tributaries of the Daelach rise at the foot of this ridge, so perhaps this fort is the ‘Tech nEnnach,’ see supra, our ‘Journal’, 1896, p. 143.

15. Cahermackirilla and Cahergrillaun, near Carran, have ancient gates too wide for stone lintels: and Mullach, in Dabrein, has recesses in its wall and terrrace only suitable for short ladders. See also ‘Journal’, 1896, pp. 153 and 157.

16. Ballykinvarga, Ballyallaban, Caherahoagh, Cahercommane, Cahercuttine, Caher-macnaughten, Cahershaughnessy, Cashlaungar, Glenquin, Moghane, and Langough; all of the greatest interest.

17. I here thank Dr. George MacNamara (Local Secretary), my sister, Mrs. O’Callaghan (Member) and the Rev. J. B. Greer, who never grudged giving their time, researches, or personal trouble to enable me to work up the Clare forts; Dr. W. Frazer (Vice President), Mr. Standish Hayes O’Grady and Mr. W. Borlase, of London, who gave me many valuable suggestions and references, and Captains Pery and Sloggett of the Ordnance Survey, who gave me tracings of the plans of the forts of Doon, Ballyganner, and Cahercuttine.


Part I