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

Part V: Eanty and Poulgorm: Caher-Poulgorm; Moher; Poulacarran

Caher-Poulgorm
It is nearly circular, and measures 105 feet across the garth. The wall is 9 feet thick, nearly levelled at the south and east, but opposite where it is well preserved it is 3 feet less, from which and from the smallest of the facing and other traces, it was evidently built in two sections, the outer 6 feet thick, with two faces; the inner (perhaps a terrace) 3 feet wide. The outer facing is of large, coarse masonry, with no apparent batter, and 7 feet high. There are some foundations of late houses, and it was evidently inhabited down to the eighteenth or even the nineteenth century.

Poulgorm
Poulgorm

Moher
Close to it to the north-east is a remarkable straight-sided ‘moher’ of far better masonry than the last. It occupies a narrow ridge between two deep hollows (with steep sides), and is built of long slabs. The south wall is 9 to 10 feet thick; the side walls are nearly 10 feet high, forming a revetment with very large foundation blocks; the northern is now barely 5 feet high and 8 feet thick. The north-west angle is perfect; it is finely built, and as square as the angle of a modern house. This is probably a late feature, for in the straight sided ‘mohers’ near Cashlaun-Gar, and Knockaun Fort, the ‘corners’ are rounded, and the same is true of the great dry-stone bawn on the bounds of Knappoge and Ballymarkahan near Quin in eastern Clare.[32] Still the masonry at Poulgorm is of a much older type than several of such angular enclosures, and may be seven or eight centuries old, or even more. The garth is 70 feet across, and has three irregular enclosures along its eastern wall.

Poulacarran
Poulacarran

Poulacarran (O.S. 9)
The two ring-walls shown in the extreme south of this picturesque valley are late, rude structures, with thin, coarse walls, 4½ to 5 feet high and thick, on rough crags, and with no hut foundations. I take this opportunity to substitute a more accurate plan for the incorrect one in the 25-inch Ordnance Survey Map (given in my former notes) [33] on the cliff-fort near Fanygalvan, in which it is shown as a ring-wall with a ‘half-moon’ outwork.

It is really of two crescent walls abutting on the cliff of the lower ‘Faugher’ or rock-terrace below Fanygalvan. It encloses a garth 92 feet across and 67 feet deep in the middle, with traces of house enclosures to the north. The fort has an unusual feature, for instead of the horns of the crescent abutting on the cliff they turn inward along its edge for about 10 feet and 12 feet, which possibly misled the surveyors into the belief that it was once a complete ring. The inner wall is of good, coarse slab-masonry 6 feet thick, and 5 to over 6 feet high, being most perfect to the north. Two upright joints remain to that side. It has two faces, with but little filling, and at one part to the south-east remains an outer facing only 31 inches thick. This is unique in my experience, for, though the outer sections, thinner than the inner ones, are found (e.g., at Caheridoula, described below, at Dunbeg fort, near Fahan in Kerry, and Ballylin Caher in western County Limerick), nothing so flimsy as this facing seems to occur elsewhere. It extends for over 30 feet, with further traces of foundation, but does not seem to have existed to the north of the gate. The gateway faced to the south-east, and was 4 feet wide, with a long lintel 6 feet 3 inches by 10 inches, and over it a relieving slab 4 feet 6 inches by 2 feet 9 inches, as is very usual. It has been recently thrown down to admit cattle. The side piers are built in courses with large blocks. The wall along the precipice is modern, to keep cattle from falling over. The outer enclosure is a slight, defaced structure, 4 feet thick, either very late or rudely rebuilt. The path leads down the cliff to a deep, wet little hazel glen, beyond which is the ridge on which lies the double Caher of Poulacarran, already described [34]; the water-supply of the fort probably lay in the glen.

 

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