Pagan ring forts and passage tombs , From Kerry to kilkenny
During July last year 2013, I visited two ring forts near Cahersiveen, County Kerry and posted on them as below :
Cahergall ring fort is a massive stone construction, built between 400BC and 500AD, It can be found close to Cahersiveen, County Kerry. Leacanabuaile feels very much more like a dwelling place for people to both live and keep themselves safe from the surrounding Environment. This included raiders and wild animals stealing cattle.
Sitting on a hill side near Cahersiveen in County Kerry is Leacanabuaile Stone Fort, it is considered one of the best examples of an Irish ring fort.
The name translates to ‘Hillside of the Summer Pasturage’.
The visit to both these locations was one of the most interesting history trips I have ever done and left me with a great sense of the History of Europe and of the people who lived here before Christian times.
On returning to county Kilkenny I fell like I was living in a place with a much more limited sense of history, Tipperary and Kilkenny feel much less remote than the coast line and mountains of county Kerry and their history seems to be much more modern.
Well it has taken me almost a year since the visit to Cahergall and Leacanabuaile to realise that this impression of my local area is far from true. Apart from the location of Knockroe (Post here), I have started to visit and find more and more local remains of Ireland’s past and it clearly goes way beyond the days of St Patrick and the early church.
The images below are satellite images of many passage tombs and ring forts, within 10km of our home :
Finding these locations was a real eye opener and showed to me that these forts and passage tombs must have been located through out the country.
The forts in Kerry have been restored over the last 5 years and may well have been in the same poor condition as the local ones here.
It is more than likely that the stone from these locations has been used in more modern times to build local Churches, Farms and stone walls on farm land, Yesterday I posted on the high cross at Kilkamerry and talked about this re-use of Pagan sites to build Christian locations.
It is very likely then that current church yards and grave yards have also been constructed on more of these sites, many more circular features exist on the local landscape and are possibly also ring forts but for these ones time has made things a little less clear.
What does becomes clear from looking deeper is that the pagan history of Ireland was extensive and that the pre-Christian population of this Island was as big as any other location on the European continent.
The images here are of the tomb or ring fort on Ballinlinagh hill, county Kilkenny and of the passage tomb of Knockroe :
Portal tombs, Dolmen’s, portal graves or quoit are a type of single-chamber megalithic tomb, usually consisting of two or more upright stones supporting a large flat horizontal capstone (table), although there are also more complex variants. Most date from the early Neolithic period (4000 to 3000 BC). Dolmens were typically covered with earth or smaller stones to form a barrow. In many instances, that covering has weathered away, leaving only the stone “skeleton” of the burial mound intact.
It remains unclear when, why, and by whom the earliest tomb’s were made. The oldest known tomb’s are in Western Europe, where they were set in place around 7000 years ago.
County Kilkenny has two such Tombs , the Newmarket tomb and the Kilmogue Portal Tomb at Harristown, both are dated to some 6000 years of age.
I did a little more reading on these tombs and it is very clear that they are very widely spread through out the world as the link below details :
The link shows their world wide locations as :
3.1.3 Eurasia (North Western Caucasus) Circassia
3.1.4 Middle East
3.2.1 Horn of Africa
3.2.2 North Africa
You can see the full details by the link above!
I have been visiting these sites in Ireland for sometime as in Ireland we have many passage tombs through out the country.
Understanding however just how international these locations are is very fascinating.
It needs to be remembered that some 6000 years ago very few of the nations we know, if any existed and people travelled without boarders.
The first time anyone gave Ireland a name as such, it was called “Hibernia”.
Hibernia is the Classical Latin name for the island of Ireland. The name Hibernia was taken from Greek geographical accounts. During exploration of northwest Europe (c. 320 BC), Pytheas of Massilia called the island Iérnē (written Ἰέρνη). In his book Geographia (c. 150 AD), Claudius Ptolemaeus (“Ptolemy”) called the island Iouerníā (written Ἰουερνία, where “ου”-ou stands for w). The Roman historian Tacitus, in his book Agricola (c. 98 AD), uses the name Hibernia. The Romans also sometimes used Scotia, “land of the Scoti”, as a geographical term for Ireland in general, as well as just the part inhabited by those people.
Something that becomes very clear is that the peoples who lived in many different world wide locations often shared the same culture, they lived very closely to and with their environment, they were clearly pagan in their beliefs and as such very close to their surroundings.
Life would have been completely different from the life we know, they lived and moved to the cycles of the seasons, they eat and lived of the wildlife and nature that surrounded them, in some season they would have little food if any.
They clearly had Gods and figure heads, yet we have a tendency to place our own modern religious understanding on-to what this meant to them directly.
It is likely that their Gods were Mythical in nature and derived from memories of real people who they connected with different elements and forces of life that affected the way they lived and survived.
This wikipedia page lists some of the celtic Gods and Goddesses and shows the forces of life and nature that they were related to.
Kilkenny Portal tomb Gallery
NewMarket Portal Tomb
Kilmogue Portal Tomb
Irish Passage Tombs
Located on the side of Duntryleague Hill, County Limerick and the westerly extension of Slievenamuc hill is a passage tomb. The Tomb was constructed for Olioll Olum, one of the early Kings of Munster.
The name Duntryleague is derived from Dún-Trí-Liag, meaning the fort of three pillar stones. Diarmuid and Gráinne are also said to have rested here in their flight from the angry Fionn Mac CumhaillWell.
The route through the forest leading to the burial ground is accessible and leads to this amazing rock structure of the tomb. There is one enormous rock slab resting steadily across a number of famous cairns which measures approximately 25m north -south and 22m east-west. Continuing on from the cairn you come across many natural viewing points which extend over the terrain of west Limerick.
Olioll Olum, was a King of Munster, who died in 234, he is said to have been progenitor of most of the great families of the south of Ireland. He married Sabia, daughter of Con of the Hundred Battles, ruler of the north of Ireland.
He willed that after his death the sovereignty of Munster should vest alternately in the descendants of his son Eoghan Mor (the Eugenians, or Eoganachts, occupying the southern part of Munster), and those of his son Cormac Cas (the Dalcassians, occupying the northern part of the same province).
The images below include some landscapes of the surrounding mountains, this is not a bad place to be laid to rest.
Gallery of a Passage Tomb