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A Survey of Monuments of Archaeological and Historical Interest in the Barony of Bunratty Lower, Co. Clare by William Gerrard Ryan

Part 2: Chapter 6: Clonloghan Parish: Lisconor Townland

Site A: STONEFORT (Caherhugh)
6” O.S. Sheet number : 51 (Co. Clare)
Reference : 19.9 cm South; 30.8 cm West
Height : c. 65’ O.D.
Shape : somewhat oval with north-south axis greater than east-west one.

Description of site:
“… The fort is on a low ridge with pleasant outlooks to the river (Fergus estuary). It was mainly of stone with an earthen core 9 feet thick and 8 to 9 feet high to the south. The garth (i.e. interior) measures 98 feet north and south, 84 feet east and west; about 102 feet to 116 feet over all. The entrance was to the east. There are two opes of a souterrain running south-west and north-east, an old hut foundation at the south-west ope, a late house site and enclosures lie in the garth. An annexe adjoins to the south-west (incorrect: should read south-east)…” (Westropp, 1917, page 12).

The above 1917 quotation gives one a good idea of the site’s principal features as they appeared at that time. Most of these, as shall be noted later, are still to be clearly seen at the stonefort. However while this site appears to be in a good condition a number of factors have been responsible for damage, especially to the site stratigraphy:-

Locally I was told that over 20 years ago earth was taken from the site’s interior. This, according to tradition, brought misfortune to the person responsible for the damage. To bring an end to such bad luck the earth was carted back and spread over the site’s interior. This, of course, has damaged or destroyed the site stratigraphy. Around 1940 a class was brought up to the site from the local National School. They dug into the site’s interior, under the direction of their teacher, but no finds were uncovered.

In recent years cattle grazing over the interior have done some damage. However more serious destruction has been caused by tractors crossing this area. Some quite deep tyre marks are now visible over the site interior and surrounding field surface.

What are the actual features of this stonefort? It is a single walled site. As Westropp stated (1917) it has a stone facing with a core of earth and small stones. This wall can be followed all around the site but it is particularly well represented in areas to the north, south and west. This wall averages 1 metre in height, above the interior, though in parts of the south reaches 1.75 metres. The average width for this wall is 2.50 ms.

What of features in the interior? Westropp, as has already been noted, made reference to the presence of a souterrain, hut foundation, late house-site and enclosures. His comment on the fact that one of these house sites is probably late in date must now be questioned after the excavation of nearby Thady’s Hill ringfort.
The most impressive of such house-sites is in the north-west corner. It is of a rectangular shape and well defined by a low stone wall about ½ metre high. The north-south internal diameter of this feature is 4.50 metres and allowing for the wall area some 7 metres. The east-west internal diameter is 9 metres and when one includes the wall area this increases to 11 metres. The entrance into this former house was from the south-west.

Other possible house-sites also exist. In the south-west section for example is a 7 metre long wall running north-east by south-west out from the site’s stone wall.

In the interior of the site, to the north-east, is a wide hollow which Westropp rightly identified as the entrance to a north-east by south-west running souterrain. This hollow is 5 metres wide (east-west) and between 1 and 1.50 metres below interior level. As cattle were falling into this entrance the local farmer blocked it up by using loose stones which were presumably taken from the nearby site wall.

Reference has also been made to the presence of an annex to this site. Field examination found it to the south-east of the site, and not south-west as mentioned by Westropp. This triangular shaped area is 22 metres long along the site’s south/south-east wall. This annex is of a trellised nature, built on sloping ground. In the east the annex and surrounding field surface are at the same levels, but not so to the west where there is an immediate difference of 1 metre to 1.50 metres in levels.

As stated previously this site has an oval nature. The north-south internal diameter centred on 30 metres while that for the east-west area was closer to 26 metres.

Lisconor A: Interior shot of collapsed wall, to the north
Lisconor A: Interior shot of collapsed wall, to the north

Lisconor A: House site in the interior, looking east
Lisconor A: House site in the interior, looking east