Dundugan - Barrow

The word barrow, an old English word meaning 'mountain' or 'grave mound', is used by archaeologists as a loose classification to denote certain types of prehistoric earthen burial mounds.

These take a variety of forms, but in Ireland the term is generally restricted to small circular mounds, totally or largely of earth, usually encircled by a fosse, and sometimes by an external bank (for further details, see O'Kelly 1989, 205).

Though considerable variation can occur, barrows are generally c.10 to 50m in diameter.

Where excavated, they sometimes reveal evidence of more than one building phase and also more than one interment.

They can range in date from the Late Neolithic to the Early Iron Age (c.3000 BC - AD 300), though the classic 'ring-barrow' is generally regarded as being of Early Iron Age date (c.300 BC - AD 400).

Barrows are sub-divided according to their surface morphology, the simplest class being the ring-ditch, a flat space, with no trace of a mound, encircled by a fosse.

The most common class is the ring-barrow; a slight, usually flat-topped, circular mound surrounded by a fosse, often supplemented by an external bank.

Of similar design but with a more substantial central mound, is the bell-barrow.

Another recognized class is the dish-barrow where a circular bank encloses a slightly dished or concave interior.

Barrows sometimes occur in groups but the example recorded by Wright in Commons townland is an isolated one perched on the south bank of the River Fane.

Following the classification labels offered above, it is probably best described as a bell barrow but is somewhat unusual in having two encircling banks and fosses.

It covers an area up to 20m in diameter and the central mound, though partly damaged, stands up to 1.8m in height. Known locally as 'Dundugan' or 'Cnoc-an-innse', it is a rare survival in Louth of a widespread type of prehistoric burial monument, common throughout Ireland, Britain and the continent.

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