Tracing the ancient route Part 1

Aileach Mor Hill with Souterrain

Aileach Mor Hill with Souterrain

Leaving The Three Flowers and an estate behind I turned north-westwards , following the road. In a field to the south-west lay large stones and at closer inspection appeared to be the entrance to a souterrain, which was confirmed by the woman of the house nearby shortly afterwards. She also told me about bodies being found in the field eastwards of the souterrain, still bearing the name “The Graveyard”, and that this field may have contained an ancient burial mound. Her son showed me kindly an old lane, which “would get me a good bit up” towards Grianan and was marked with a large boulder at its beginning.

Entrance to the Souterrain

Entrance to the Souterrain

The lane itself is much overgrown with brambles and gorse but remains of stone walling on both sides are still visible. Its alignment appears to be north-east to south-west. After a short and hard fought for advance I noticed an array of stones in the adjourning field.
The scattered arrangements of all the stones, I found this day, reminded me profoundly of a description given to such a sight in Captain Somerville’s paper to the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland about the Ancient Stone Monuments near Lough Swilly in 1909, calling it “confused heaps of stones,” which, indeed, is a truthful account of the situation, for both, the stones and myself.
The first group was backed against an overgrown old fieldwall and hedging to the south-west and Grianán Hill, and appears to have been circular in shape. Standing inside and with my back turned to Grianán, the souterrain was laying to the north in a field below, Aileach Mor Hill nestled comfortably in the centre of my frame. A cattlegap on its south-western extent lead into the next field, across a very small stream, which, when followed its round and stone cluttered curve, flow out from under the old lane and just below another “confused heap of stones,” being again backed against old walling and hedging, this time on its east. Squeezing into this wild arrangement and the gorse, I faced north north-west, Cashel Hill, Asdevlin Hill and the southern slopes of Scalp Mountain.

First group with Asdevlin Hill

First group with Asdevlin Hill

View at Aileach Mor

View at Aileach Mor

View from inside at Aileach More

View from inside at Aileach More

The cattlegap

The cattle gap

The stone cluttered small stream

The stone cluttered small stream

The second heap

The second heap

A close up

A close up

View from inside at Cashel and Asdevlin Hill

View from inside at Cashel and Asdevlin Hill

The opening of the little stream under the old lane is lined with stones, its water clear and fresh.

The stone lined opening

The stone lined opening

At the end of the same field, westwards towards Grianán, I found a crossroad, splitting , what must have been formerly one, into four fields. Loose, large stones lay much overgrown and covered by gorse on both sides of the first two fields on my approach. As usual, all stones found, where moved towards the boundaries. The cross created by their walls seems to have roughly the alignment of south-east to north-west and north-east to south-west. The partially parallel field, to the one I came from, is called “Witches Cove.” The field opposite contains a pile of stones and slabs under a lonely tree.

The crossroad

The crossroad

The north end of the Witches Cove

The southern end of the Witches Cove

Its western boundary

Its western boundary

Slabs and stones in the field opposite

Slabs and stones in the field opposite

Many of the stones, cleared from the field, found use in the dry stone walling of the same, except some, which are still lying at the edge of fieldwalls, despite being of reasonable size for this task and do also not appear to have fallen out, but rather purposely left in this spot. Remembering the words of an old stonewaller, that all the stone have to be used, this was an unforeseen discovery.

Witches Cove - Hidden beneath the gorse

Witches Cove – Hidden beneath the gorse

Left on the edge of the field

Left on the edge of the field

Still keeping the direction to reach Grianán, I passed another small stream, entirely hidden in bushes and gorse and among so many ‘confused’ stones, sunken into a gap in the ground.
Lacking a contemporary map of this area, I am uncertain how far I got at this stage, having followed rather fertile fieldwalls, I finally could see Grianán in the distant from a field harbouring a very large pile of stones, of nearly all sizes, a few meters away from its boundary.

Large pile of stones inside a field

Large pile of stones inside a field

At this point, the battery of my camera had already resigned and hostile clouds of an early evening moved in, I turned to the road, passing the ruin of the large farm in Bunnamayne, towards Bridgend, and then eastwards back to Coshquin. Before I reached the field of the souterrain, I passed a gate of one with a remarkable large pile of stones to each side.
Bridgend is a Grianán blind spot, which means Grianán is not visible from this point. This was also true for my journey so far and only as I reached the large heap of stones inside the field, I was able to glimpse at Grianán again in the distance.

To be continued.

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2 thoughts

  1. It seems that the first leg ended on the southern outskirts of Bunnamayne. I hit Manners Town and Carrowreagh during the second part of the journey, which I will post as soon as I got the photos sorted. My wee camera is giving up and as a result the photos need some work.

    But you should see the faces of the people, when I ask them, what townland I am in.

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