Ráth of Chorrchoill

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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.

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What looks like the entrance to the Rath

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.

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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.

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About edmooneyphotography

Photographer, Blogger, Ruinhunter, with an unhealthy obsession for history, mythology and the arcane.
This entry was posted in Diary of a Ruinhunter, Historical, Photography, Places of Interest and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

28 Responses to Ráth of Chorrchoill

  1. Uncle Spike says:

    Thanks Ed for my educational tour this Friday morn 🙂

  2. Interesting that you can discern the difference between a Råth and just a big dirt mound – I guess it help to know what you are looking for – Enjoy the weekend Ed.

    • Ha,Ha, it gets worse, You have Burial mounds, Ráths, Ring-forts, Fairy Hills, Barrows and Cashel’s. Some have more distinctive features than others. When in doubt there is always the National monuments service whom have a database of sites both current and extinct.

      Have a great Weekend 🙂

  3. Ali Isaac says:

    Hi Ed…another fab post! It amazes me how we practically live on top of all these ancient sites whilst being completely oblivious to them! There is a fantastic mound on the shores of tiny Lisgrey Lough beside the N3, I drive past it almost every day, a perfect graceful dome in the landscape. Then I noticed another beyond it, and another, as the land rose up to Murmod Hill. Then I noticed more leading all the back to the N3 and continuing on the other side. I think its a huge complex, but no one notices or cares. Ancient sites are dotted everywhere in our landscape, aren’t they? They are far more prolific than we are led to believe. So sad they’re all going to ruin, but I guess there are too many to excavate or protect.

    • Thanks Ali, sounds interesting. There is an abundance of sites up your way.I must plan a day trip up there to check some out.
      Its more a case of not being bothered than there are too many to protect 😦

      • Ali Isaac says:

        You’re probably right, but I’m sure there is no money in the budget for buying or maintaining these sites, and the landowners, for the most part, don’t seem interested. Shame. If you you do come up this way, let me know when, and I’ll join you if I can.

  4. jmgajda says:

    Thank you for the interesting post. I’m curious, are there ever any internal structures in the earth bank of the Ráths? Ráths sound very similar to the earth mounds certain tribes built here in America that died out right before the Europeans began exploring the middle of the continent. They too are often unrecognized as a manmade structure.

    The accompanying photos were great, too!

    🙂

    • You are quite right, whilst Rath would not have contained internal structures, there are numerous sites similar that did have. I’ve only seen the american mounds on Discovery, but would love to see them in person. They are similar in ways to the ones here in Ireland and were mostly used for ceremony or burials. The most well known in Ireland is Newgrange which is older that the Pyramids in Eygpt.

      • jmgajda says:

        That’s very interesting about Newgrange because there are mounds in Louisiana that were built around the same time. I know that some of the mounds had wooden structures built on top, which also sounds similar to the Raths. I would also like to see both the American mounds and the Raths in person. I’m sure they are quite fascinating in real life, knowing that humans so long ago built them and lived on or near them. Anyway, thanks for sharing the photos and the info! 🙂

  5. Jet Eliot says:

    Very interesting, Ed, thank you. The world that you share with the ancients is astounding to this resident of the new world.

    • Thank you so much, but I believe that you guys have some similar sites in the States. Built by the natives and almost as old as the ones here in Ireland. I’ve never seen them in person, but perhaps some day?

  6. John says:

    So interesting. Try to imagine actually being there. Wow. Such a different life.

  7. Fascinating! Blessings, Natalie 🙂

  8. artveronica says:

    Thank you Ed , your blog is so darn interesting. I would have liked to been there in 1995.
    I am sure they missed something. Best always

  9. Rajiv says:

    Nice! And, this is a really interesting bit of history

  10. Ed,

    Why is the Tourism Board of Ireland not paying you for your fantastic photos in and info about Ireland?!! Every post is a beckoning, every fact a passport!!

    That’s it. I am going to save my pennies and come see all this stuff for myself!

  11. Jo Woolf says:

    Wonderful, Ed! This is what I love most about history – sometimes it needs a leap of imagination. I would be really drawn to these places, too.

  12. LB says:

    That is fascinating, Ed!

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