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

Part III: The Plateaux of Central Burren: Iskancullin; Berneens

Iskancullin (O.S. 9, No. 11)
This townland lies to the west of the road and Carran Church, and to the south of Poulawack. It may be considered to be an upland of Noughaval (’Oughaval, as the people call it locally).[48] There are two little cahers not far from the road, circular in plan, built of thin but regular slabs, the walls seldom measure more than 5 feet in height. A crag track, running almost due westward from opposite the church, leads past the southern caher along the foot of a very low ridge. The holly trees, which gave the place part of its name, have perished, but a close-occurring series of outflows of springs from the seams of the ridge (not very usual in the uplands of Burren) fill several shallow pools, full of frogs and shadowed by hazels. Following this track nearly to the mearing of Noughaval we find in the fields adjoining the boundary-wall a group of antiquities of some interest.

Iskancullin Cromlech
Iskancullin Cromlech

A small caher,[49] little over 50 feet across (marked, but not distinguished from modern enclosures on the new maps), lies on the summit. It is built like the other cahers of long, thin flags, and consequently is of regular masonry. The wall varies from 5 feet to 6 feet in thickness and height, and can be located from the Carran road by two lofty shepherds ‘outlooks’ or pillars of dry stones. Within the mossy garth, among low tufts of wild roses, is a ‘cave’ 9 feet or 10 feet long, 3 feet 8 inches wide, and about 4 feet high, the sides are of dry masonry, and the top of thin slabs, rising over the present level of the garth.

Close to the caher to the south-west is an irregular ‘moher,’ rudely rectangular, about 130 feet by 100 feet, the wall seldom 5 feet high and 4 feet thick, of the same masonry as the cahers. Another ‘moher,’ about 150 feet each way, its walls gapped, but parts rising over 8 feet high, also of similar masonry, and without interior foundations, stands on the edge of Noughaval, a contemporaneous wall extending for 60 feet into Iskancullin.

In the field between and south of the mohers is a fine cromlech,[50] standing on nearly bare crag, with no sign of a cairn about it. It is, as usual, a cist tapering eastward, 8 feet 6 inches long, and 5 feet 2 inches to 4 feet 9 inches wide, made of thin slabs, 6 inches to 9 inches thick. The covering slabs have fallen. An enclosure of slabs surround it at a distance of from 15 inches to 30 inches at the sides, and 5 feet to 7 feet at the ends. Nine slabs stand to the north, at least five to the south and three to each end; the largest of these are 4 feet 8 inches by 4 feet, and 6 feet 3 inches by 2 feet 8 inches. The west end is slightly bent. There seems to have been a smaller cist within the enclosure near the east end of the main cist.

Berneens (O.S. 5, No. 11)
We ascend once more to the high ground ‘on the far hills, long, cold and grey,’ behind Ballyallaban, and resume our survey near the cromlechs of Gleninshen, which we have already described.[51] The eastern cromlech of Berneens lies at no great distance from the edge of Ballyallaban, in a field on the hillslope, to the north of the cromlechs of Gleninshen, already described. The cist is perfect, save for the collapse of a block and the distortion of two others in the south side.[52] It stands in a cairn which has been nearly removed, faces the east-north-east, and tapers and slopes eastward from 7 feet to 22 inches. The top edges have been hammered to a slope. The north side was a single slab 12 feet 3 inches long, though now cracked; it slopes from 6 feet 2 inches high at the west to 1 foot 8 inches at the east, the west end slab 7 feet long by 6 feet 2 inches high; the top is 13 feet long, and 7 feet 6 inches to 2 feet wide and 10 inches thick.

The Eastern Cromlech, Berneens
The Eastern Cromlech, Berneens