John McCullagh June 13, 2008
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As we move forward in time in our archaeological review, we find the plentiful ring forts – especially plentiful in our area of interest – which were a feature of the early Christian era (c. 5th century-12th century).

These are earthen banks and ditches (raths) usually on the heavier soils, and with stone walls (cashels) on the rocky slopes of the ring dyke.

Good examples of cashels in our area were at Lisbanemore and Lisdoo (in the Killeen townland) and in living memory, Lissacashel near Kilnasaggart  in the Cashel townland.

Raths are noticeably concentrated on the south and south-west slopes of the Ring of Gullion, particularly near Forkhill in Carrickasticken andd Tievecrom. At Lisleitrim near Cullyhanna (photographed above) is a spectacular hilltop rath with three substantial ditches and banks.  There is special significance in this as even kings lived in univallate forts.  Perhaps the nearness to the Dorsey (the ‘doorway’ to Ulster)  and the heavy concentration of Ring Forts in our vicinity (Lissaraw, Lissamry, Drumboy, Tullyard, Corliss, Lisdoo etc) signifies a border region in troublesome times (as it still is today in comparatively peaceful days).

Crannogs (also above, to left) – island settlements – are also a feature of early Christian settlement. A crannog in the north of Cam Loch was drowned when levels of the Loch were raised in the nineteenth century.

Throughout history routeways passing through the Ring of Gullion have had an important influence upon settlement. The Slige Midluacha, the ancient road from Newgrange (Drogheda) to Dunseverisk in North Antrim passed through the Moyry Pass. This is not unrelated to the plethora of settlements already alluded to along this way, or to the number of religious sites (Killeavy Churches, Kilnasaggart etc). 

 

…. more later …

 

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