This is an excellent example of a cashel or stone fort, which was painted by Wakeman on 30 October 1880. It is also called Cashel Bir or Bawnboy. The site is located on the summit of a hill with a stream at its base on the west side.

The oval shaped cashel is 23m in diameter east to west and 16m north to south with 3m thick walls that are 2.4m high externally. Parts of the base of the wall protrude in parts of the external wall. This is to stabilise the wall foundations because of the steepness of the hill the cashel is located on.

The entrance is to the east-northeast and is 1.2m wide but is partially blocked by fallen stones from the south of the entrance. A ramp appears to lead up to the entrance from an area of slightly elevated ground. Two large flagstones appear in the centre of the grass-covered interior.

A record from 1891 comments on the occurrence of a souterrain within the wall, which apparently led to the bottom of the hill and a number of skeletons were frequently found outside the cashel.

Many cashels exist in the county and impressive examples such as this one may have been a symbol of social, rather than military prestige. Most of these belong to the Early Christian period (440-1100 AD).

Ringforts consists of a circular or oval area defined by an earthen bank with an external ditch or fosse. The earthen ringfort are called raths, while those made of stone are called cashels.

Ringforts and cashels are the most common archaeological monument in the Irish countryside with over 40,000 of them being recorded. Townland names often hint at their presence with the words, lios, dún, rath, cathair, caiseail etc. being part of the name in Gaelic and anglicised to lis doon, rath, caher and cashel.

Most appear to have been enclosed farmsteads and have a date range of around 600 to 900 AD. The banks act as a defence against natural predators such as wolves, as well as against local warfare and cattle raiding, which were common at the time.

The archaeological evidence suggests a growing, wealthy society and an increase in agricultural productivity. As well as farming related activities, such as corn grinding and animal husbandry, the rath and cashel was also a place where a wide range of craft industries took place, like spinning, weaving, metal working and glass working. Dwellings and outhouses in the interior were built of timber posts with walls made of wattle, mud or sods.

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By TommyW | 2012-08-07 16:44:26

Interior of Cashelore

A panorama showing the interior of the Cashelore fort.