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Investigation of a large ring fort, about 3km south of the Rock of Cashel, in County Tipperary, using sensitive “high-resolution magnetic imaging” equipment, has led Richard O’Brien, the archaeologist involved, to conclude that the site may have first been used in the Late Bronze Age. Furthermore; “none of the traditional evidence associated with ring forts – such as houses, hearths or rubbish pits – was found”  in the unusual, triple-ditched monument.

As you may be aware, there has often been a tendency, in media reports on archaeology, to fall into the comfortable arms of ‘ritual’, as an explanation for any unusual feature found in exploration of a site, but, of late, there has also been a growing trend for the consideration of ‘sporting events’ – as a possible use for larger circular enclosures. This is not, of course, a reason to dismiss these ideas, merely to point out that they might not be the only answers when you go on to read the investigator’s contention that; “one of the most exciting discoveries was evidence of a Stonehenge-style circle of wooden posts suggestive of “a ceremonial or ritual role for the fort”, or that the; “vast interior area which is much larger than most ring forts is like a sports arena”. In addition, the translation of the name of the fort; ‘Rathnadrinna’, here fittingly given as ‘Fort of the Contest’, could equally derive from ‘Draeighean’ and thus become ‘Fort of the Blackthorns’.

Putting quibbling aside. The survey of this distinctive and intriguing site was funded by the Heritage Council and is to be commended for the amount of information obtained by innovative, non-intrusive method. Much more can be read here;


February 2010

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