Stopping off in the middle of the small housing estate of Rathview, just outside the Kildare village of Prosperous, I was shocked to find this completely untouched Ráth. It has been incorporated into the landscape of the surrounding area, which is quite remarkable considering that many of these Ráths have been destroyed over the years. They are nothing special to look at and even harder to photograph as they are basically just a pile of earth. But my interest here is not visual. It’s the history behind these Ráths which intrigue me. Who lived here? How did they live? What did they do? The list is endless. Whilst there are many Ráths scattered around the country with association to historically events such as the one near Mullaghmast or the many Ráths which can be found on the Hill of Tara (Royal City of Ancient Ireland). Sadly there is very little known about the Ráth of Chorrchoill.
So a little bit about Ráths. Ráths were common structures built between the Iron Age and early Christian times. They consist of circular structures with earth banks or ditches. These were raised above the surrounding land and sometimes topped with wooden palisades and or wooden buildings. These were the homes of the early inhabitants and served dual defensive purposes. At a time when the age of the hunter’ gatherer declined and farming became popular, the people of the time began to settle. In doing so they required a safe place to live which would not only protect them from the wild beasts but could serve as a defensive position against would be attackers. Sadly, these dwellings were not durable and all that remains is the vague circular piles of earth which are dotted across the Island.
This Ráth is about 36meters in diameter with a waterlogged Fosse and traces of an outer back on the west side. There is what looks like an enterance in the south-west. The Earth Bank itself is flat topped with a height of approx 1.5 meters The area known as Chorrchoill which means ‘Smooth Forest’, has been anglicised as Curryhills. Back in 1995 the area was excavated before construction begun on a number of houses which now surround the monument. A 20 meter perimeter was put in place to ensure that the development did not damage the monument. Unfortunately there is no record of any significant finds and the site was never dated.