Part 2: Chapter
18: Tomfinlough Parish: Mooghaun North Townland
|Site A: DOUBLE RINGFORT
|6” O.S. Sheet number :
||42 (Co. Clare)
||23.4 cm North; 38.5 cm East
||c. 120’ O.D.
||irregular (see site plan below)
Description of site:
The above is a site plan of the unusual but interesting double-ringfort
in Mooghaun North townland (incorrectly placed in nearby Ayleacotty townland
by Westropp). According to the relevant 25” O.S. sheet this site
covers an area of 1.05 acres.
What are the features of the site? In answering this question I propose
to use the following approach:
(a) General description of two parts of site.
(b) More detailed measurements of northern and southern parts making
reference to the above 1913 plan by Westropp. A revised plan (1978)
is also included.
(c) Photographs illustrating main features.
Northern half of site
As the land about the full site is of an undulating nature it is not
surprising to find that this earthwork is of a platform nature. Though
such an elevated nature is visible about the full site it is clearer
in some areas in relation to others. As the undulating nature is particularly
noticeable to the west it is not surprising to find a more marked difference
in levels here, with the interior (of the northern area) being almost
3 metres above the surrounding field surface. In the east the difference
is also quite marked but centres 2 metres on this occasion. To the
north the difference centres on only ½ - 1 metre, again with
the interior at a higher level. To the south one has the second part
of the site though this area is also ½ - 1 metre below the level
of the larger northern part.
Southern half of site
In the case of this roughly square shaped area one also finds that the
most marked difference in levels is to the west. There is a difference
of just over two metres in levels between the interior and that part
of the surrounding field surface immediately outside the western outer
bank. The further one moves west the greater the difference, with the
interior always at the higher level. To the east there is a drop of
2 metres down to the farm trackway which skirts the eastern part of
the site. As we shall note later this feature has damaged the eastern
part of the site with the result that all trace of the fosse and outer
bank are absent here. In relation to the southern part of the site
even the inner earthen bank is gone and it has been replaced by a more
modern boundary ditch. Getting back to difference in levels between
the southern half of this site and the surrounding field surface. Reference
has already been made to the 2 metre plus difference to the west and
2 metre difference to the east. In the south, immediately outside the
outer bank, this difference is 1 ¼ metres. To the north we find,
as stated previously, that this part of the site is at a higher level
(average difference 1 metre).
Detailed Description of site:
While describing the features of this interesting site in detail reference
will be made to (a) 1913 plan by Westropp (b) Revised 1913 plan, based
on field work (1978) (c) Photographs to illustrate points of interest.
Interior: Field work during 1978 fortunately found that some of the internal
earthworks associated with the northern part of the site were still
visible in the field. Admittedly some of these showed signs of damage
but this was almost compensated for by the presence of previously unrecorded
earthworks (see revised 1913 plan and compare it with Westropp’s
original). The main part of the original 1913 plan, in relation to
features associated with the internal northern area, was the presence
of an L shaped earthwork enclosing an area of the site’s north-eastern
part. I found (1978) that this had been damaged in areas by grazing
livestock and now two clear breaches occur. Firstly at the point where
the east-west running earthwork (28 metres in length) meets that running
north-south (now 6 metres in length). At this point or junction is
a 4 metre wide gap, not there by the 1913 plan. A second gap occurs
where the north-south running part of this L shaped earthwork meets
the inner bank. Now a 2 metre wide gap occurs at this point, again
presumably due to livestock movement. What are the measurements associated
with this L shaped earthwork? Mention has already been made to the
fact that the east-west bank is 28 metres in length. It averaged between ½ and ¾ metre
in height by 2 to 3 metres in width. While some small stones could
be seen in this it was basically earthen in composition. The small
north-south bank, excluding the two gaps, was 6 metres in length. Again
the bank centred on 60 cm in height by 2 metres in width. The greatest
north-south measurement within this L shaped area was 12 metres while
that for the east-west centred on 15 metres (maximum). Though not represented
on the original 1913 plan there is a small bank running south from
this larger earthwork. It was 6 metres in length and only ½ metre
high by 1 metre wide (see revised 1913 plan).
At a point some 13 metres south of the previously described L shaped
earthwork is a second east-west running bank. Field work found a 6 metre
gap in this, to the east, obviously having being formed since the 1913
Westropp plan was prepared. The remaining 15 metres of this bank is,
on average, 65 cm high by 2.50 metres wide. Again it would seem to have
been basically earthen.
The final internal earthwork within the northern half of this site is
to be found near the south-west gap (modern?) in the banks. As my revised
1913 plan shows it runs north-south and is 6 metres in length, 3 metres
wide (maximum) and ½ metre high. There is a 4 ½ metre gap
between it and the inner bank to the south. Obviously such earthworks
were associated with house sites and internal subdivisions within the
Inner Stone faced Bank (Northern Area)
Originally this feature would have been some 165 metres in length, some
115 metres of which can be traced now. The missing 50 metres (approx.)
would have been to the east, in the area of the farm trackway. The
presence of this feature, as we shall see, has resulted in the partial
or full destruction of the inner bank, fosse and outer bank not only
over the northern part of the site but likewise for the south. What
possibly was originally a pathway has been enlarged to allow tractors
and other pieces of agricultural equipment to get to the fields to
the north-west of the nearby farmhouse.
However this inner stone faced bank can be traced over area to the north,
south and west. Generally speaking it is best represented in areas to
the north-west of the site where it averages 1 to 1 ½ metres in
height by 2 to 3 metres in width. Field work found the actual bank to
be earthen in composition with a now largely collapsed stone facing.
As the revised 1913 plan shows it is absent in two small areas to the
south-west and south where entrance areas occur.
Fosse (Northern Area)
Because of the
presence of the previously mentioned farm trackway this feature can only
be examined in areas to the north, south and west. It
is particularly well represented to the north where it averages 3 to
4 metres in width and its floor is ¾ metre below the surrounding
field surface. (Part of this is now covered by collapsed stones from
the bank face above). From it the inner bank is 2 to 3 metres in height.
To the south-west, near the field wall, while this fosse is 3 to 4 metres
in width it is almost at the same level as the surrounding field surface.
In the south, in the area between the northern and southern parts of
the site, the fosse is 2 to 3 metres in width by only 40 cm in depth.
Outer Bank (Northern Area)
You will find the greatest
difference between the 1913 plan and the revised plan (1978) when you
study the condition of the outer bank. Westropp
clearly represents the presence of such a feature to the north and west.
However field work in 1978 failed to find any clear evidence of such
a feature in these areas. As the revised 1913 plan shows the only trace
of this feature may be found to the south-west, near the modern field
wall. Along this stretch it averaged 1 metre in height by 2 ½ to
3 metres in width.
The northern part of the site is oval in shape. The north-south internal
diameter centred on 45 metres while that for the east-west area was 57
Based on field work I feel that the previously described northern area
was the main part of the site. Let us now study more square shaped southern
Southern Part of Site:
Unlike the previously mentioned northern area this part of the site has
no evidence of internal house-sites or subdivisions. Westropp (1913)
has no reference to their existence and I likewise failed (1978) to
find any evidence to suggest their former existence. The actual area
itself is 33 metres north-south (internal diameter) by 38 metres east-west.
Inner Stone faced Bank (Southern Area)
While Westropp’s 1913 plan has this feature clearly to be seen
to the north, south and west field work in 1978 did not find this to
be the case. Firstly I failed to find any evidence of an inner bank to
the north. I would, in fact, question if one ever existed here. What
purpose would it have achieved? If this southern part of the site was
used for livestock the fosse to the north, along with the inner bank
of the northern part of the site, would have stopped their movement northwards.
While I have the inner bank represented to the south and south-west it
must be mentioned that along this stretch such evidence is of a poorly
defined nature (hence the broken lines on the revised 1913 site plan).
The only area where one can examine and study this stone faced bank is
to the immediate west. Here along a 12 metre stretch this feature is,
on average, 65 cm high by 2.50 metres wide. As noted also for the stone
facing on the inner bank, northern area, much of the facing has collapsed
and is now to be seen in the fosse.
Fosse (Southern Area)
While this feature can be traced over the northern, southern and western
areas it is not as clearly defined as the fosse to the north.
The fosse over the southern part of the site is best represented to
the west. Here it is, on average, 3.50 metres wide but only ½ metre
below the surrounding field surface. In the south-west though the fosse
is 1 ½ metres below the interior level it is almost at the one
level as the surrounding land.
Originally the fosse would have been quite clearly defined in the area
between the northern and southern parts of the site. Now (1978) though
it is 2.50 metres wide its average depth is only 35 cm and even less
Outer Bank (Southern Area)
Concerning this feature Westropp (1913) has written:
(This southern part of the site has) an outer ring of large stonework…” (Page
Field work failed to find any evidence of this. Certainly some limestone
blocks occur about the outer bank but there is now (1978) no evidence
of a stone facing. It obviously existed as it occurs over part of the
inner bank but perhaps the stones were removed and used in the erection
of some of the stone walls in the area.
As it survives this bank is 2 to 3 metres wide and a maximum of 75 cm
high, to the west. Over other areas it is not as clearly defined, with
the average height centring on 40 cm.
How did people enter this site?
The main entrance into the site now (1978) is via an iron gateway to
the south-east (see revised 1913 plan). This leads one into the southern
fosse, which you follow for a short distance until you come to a gap
in the inner bank. This brings one into the large southern enclosure
(or annex). To get into the northern area you go via a 1 metre wide
gap in the inner bank of this same northern area, having crossed over
a built up part of the fosse between both halves of the site.
A second entrance leads into this interesting site from the west, near
the field wall. This is probably of a comparatively modern date.
Mooghaun North A: This photo shows the L bank arrangement
the northern part of the site. This probably marks a house site
Mooghaun North A: Shot of the fosse, to the north of
the site. Some stones from the
collapsed bank facing are also clearly
photo was taken from west to east.
Mooghaun North A: Western view of the fosse, outer bank
(to the left) of the southern part of the site