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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 15: Kilnasoolagh Parish: Ballynacragga Townland

6” O.S. Sheet number : 42 (Co. Clare)
Reference : 2.1 cm South; 25.0 cm West
Height : c. 30’ O.D.
Shape : rectangular (see description below)

Description of site:
This site was drawn to my attention by a reference in a 1908 article (Westropp) to a small tumulus in Ballynacragga Townland. The site was not represented on any edition of the O.S. Sheets. Based on Westropp’s general location I was able to find it after some searching.

There are two parts to this site, one to the south-west and the other to the north east. Both parts though attached are quite different in shape and size. The site is of the following plan:

In the south-western part we have elevated area 4 metres above the surrounding field surface. This has not a level top but slopes gently to the north-east. On average this elevated section is 8 metres wide and has a length of 10 metres. Between this area and the lower lying north-east part is an immediate drop in slope, (at x above) of some 2 ½ metres. The lowlying part stretches from the base of this break in slope for almost 20 metres to the north-east. It has an average width of 13 metres. This also slopes to the north-east but very gently. On average this area is ½ metre high.

The lower lying north-east section is defined by a bank. It is 38 metres in full length by ½ - ¾ metres high and 1-2 metres wide. There is no trace of this feature over the elevated south-western section. The north-east section also contains a fosse outside part of the bank. It has a total length of 22 metres, it is between 1 – 2 metres wide and has an average depth of ½ metre. Again there is no trace of this fosse to the south-west.

Westropp’s view would be that we have the site of a tumulus here. The entrance area to this burial feature would have been from the north-east, along the gently rising ground defined by a bank, and partly by a fosse. The actual burial would have, probably, been placed in the elevated south-western section. In fact to support this argument he states: “…traces of digging to the south (west) imply an attempt, by treasure-seekers, to despoil this tomb.” (1908, page 229).

There is no local knowledge or folklore on this interesting site in an area which must have been subjected to occasional seasonal flooding prior to the construction of embankments along the Fergus estuary during the last century.

Ballynacragga F: Photo taken from the north-east towards Tumulus
Ballynacragga F: Photo taken from the north-east towards Tumulus

Ballynacragga F (Tumulus) from the north
Ballynacragga F (Tumulus) from the north