In partnership with Queen’s University Belfast’s Centre for Archeological Fieldwork (CAF), the Ring of Gullion Landscape Partnership is planning to undertake a new programme of archaeological investigation at the site of Cornahove – a lost ringfort at Lough Ross – and there are going to be plenty of opportunities for the local community to be involved “digging into our past”!
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Ringforts – also known as raths – belong to the Early Medieval period in Ireland, and were in popular use from AD 600 to AD 900. Circular in shape, and defined by a bank and ditch, they were usually some 20 to 40 metres in diameter, with the bank crowned by some form of timber pallisade. Early historical sources indicate that they were enclosed farmsteads, and acted as the centres of agricultural activity. At this time cattle were of great economic importance and the ringfort provided protection to the animals (particularly the cows) from thieves but also from attack by wolves.
The ringfort at Cornahove was marked on the first edition Ordnance Survey six-inch map of the 1830s but must have then been demolished since it wasn’t shown on the second edition of the map. As such, it has been almost forgotten about. Our new project, however, now aims to uncover the story of this lost monument.
Work will commence in April 2016 when the CAF will undertake a geophysical survey on the site where the ringfort once stood. The objective of the survey is to identify where the ditch of the fort was positioned, which in turn will allow the archaeologists to identify suitable locations where they can place their excavation trenches.
The archaeological excavation will then take place in May 2016 and will be for three weeks and its at that point that we will want your help with the work! We want all the local schools to sign up and come along, participate in the excavation, and help us uncover the past at this important local monument. And we want the grown-ups to help out as well! We want your local community groups, your historical society, your friends, family or anyone who has an interest in the history of our area to come along and lend a hand as volunteers, or just to watch as the archaeologists uncover secrets that have remained a mystery for hundreds of years.
All the results will be available on the Ring of Gullion website when the work is complete so that our discoveries can be shared with the local community.