|Clare County Library||
Home | Search Library Catalogue | Foto: Clare Photo Collection | OS Maps | Search this Website | Copyright Notice
|Archaeology of the Burren: Prehistoric Forts and Dolmens in North Clare by Thomas Johnson Westropp|
Part IV: West Corcomroe: Caherdoon; Caherduff; Other Forts
Caherdoon is now getting named by the natives, ‘Caherlochlannagh,’ a mere late rendering of ‘Danish fort’ growing up in the decay of true tradition. It stands on a slightly raised sheet of rock, over 550 feet above the sea, and is an unusually fine and well-preserved ring-wall, beautifully built. As at Doonaunmore, the faces of the slabs are greatly channeled. I could not satisfy myself that the inner surfaces were equally worn. The plan and masonry are most regular, which favours its early date; for, as I have elsewhere shown, the inferior masonry always rests above the better building. The caher measures 105 feet over all, and encloses a circular garth, 84 feet to 85 feet in diameter. The wall is built in two sections, each with good, separate faces, and each little over 5 feet in thickness, or from 10 to 11 feet thick in all. The inner section forms a terrace from 3 feet to 6 feet high; but I saw no traces of steps up to it. The outer wall has a batter of about 1 in 12 where not bulging out. The height varies, being 9 feet 6 inches to south-west, 6 feet 2 inches to south, 8 feet to east, and 6 feet to 7 feet high for much of the ring, save to the north-east, which is much demolished. It was probably kept for shelter on the sides next the sea. Several upright joints run up the whole height of the wall in the southern segment. The gateway faced the north-east; only the foundation of the northern pier is traceable. There are two nearly levelled loops of wall to the south and north, and the lower part of a small circular hut (joined by side walls to the rampart) on the south-east. In the south-west quarter of the garth are two modern huts, inhabited down to very recent times. There is also a souterrain, 27 feet from the western terrace, measuring 18 feet 8 inches, north-east and south-west, and 5 feet wide, lined with walls of small masonry, and roofed with great slabs, large and thin; one measures 7½ feet by 5 feet 4 inches, by 10 inches to 12 inches. Near the southern end, to the east, is a small side apartment, only 4 feet by 3 feet wide. It is interesting to contrast this fort with Caherdooneerish. The latter shows traces of rebuilding, patchwork, and, at least, two entire rings added to the wall, and showing differently spaced upright joints at various levels. At Caherduff all the work seems of one period; but the wall is much lower than at the other fort.
A defaced dolmen, called ‘Labba’ and ‘Dermot’s bed,’ lies in the field to the east of the caher. It is quite overturned: a large prostrate slab and other stones remain, one leaning against the other; it is unmarked on the maps, and I could not find it on my last visit. An ancient enclosure lies in the next field to the east.
The outlook to the north is very fine, comprising all the Killonaghan Valley, and much of Galway Bay, Black Head, with Caherdooneerish, and the slopes, from the sandhills of Fanore (the site of one of the earliest settlements in Clare), Balliny (latest inhabited of the Clare cahers), the Round Castle of Faunaroosca, and St. Onchu’s Church. Every period of human history in Burren is represented in the scene. The other forts are of but little interest. The trace of a small ring-fort lies in the uppermost enclosed fields below Caherduff; and wandering over the plateau to the west of the great cliffs, we found three rude old enclosures of slab masonry, partly rebuilt, but embodying ancient work, though neither regular nor massive. They were evidently cattle bauns. A low, grassy valley, and late house foundations, lay from them toward Cahernagrian, and the long pass from Oughtdarra.
Caherreagh or Caherkinallia is an ordinary ring-wall, much gapped and
defaced, at the end of a long, craggy spur or knoll, projecting into
a marshy hollow.