Posted by Tuars on May 07, 2000 at 19:05:44:
In Reply to: Ring Forts posted by Muirsín Durcan on May 07, 2000 at 01:26:48:
Below cut from an article I found in the
Limerick Leader (linked below)..
Ring forts can date from any time between 500 B.C. and 500 A.D., a period of a thousand years. A ring fort at Cush, in south-east Limerick, has been dated to 500 B.C. So our ring forts can be anything from 2500 to 1500 years old. Any manmade structure that has survived for so long must be of great interest, and deserves to be respected and preserved from destruction. Ring forts were, in fact, the farmsteads of ancient Ireland, and on them stood wooden dwellings, built of timber from the great oak forests that then covered much of the country. All traces of the wooden dwellings have, of course, long since vanished.
At the beginning of this century it is estimated that there were about 40,000 ring forts in Ireland. The widespread belief, so long current in Ireland, that anybody interfering with a ring fort, or moat, was bound to meet with great misfortune, served as a powerful deterrent to anyone who might feel tempted to level one of them.
But beliefs of all kinds tended to be tossed to the winds in recent decades, and with the coming of bulldozers and JCB's and other kinds of excavating machinery, some farmers, no longer fearing dreadful retribution, as their fathers and grandfathers would, employed these modern machines and destroyed a great many of the ring forts. The raised platform of the fort, on which the oaken house had once stood, was scooped away and used to fill the protective fosse or trench that surrounded the fort. The whole was levelled. A few extra square yards of land was gained, but a unique and important part of our archaeological heritage, which had stood on the site for a thousand years or more, had been unceremoniously wiped off the face of the earth in an hour or two of thoughtless destruction. In some parts of the country it is believed that more than 50 per cent of the ring forts were destroyed in this fashion in the course of a few years.
But in recent years there has been a welcome improvement in the attitude of landholders to ring forts that they may have on their farms. This is almost completely due to the emphasis put on the importance of not interfering with these ancient structures in the courses run for young farmers by Teagasc. The EU itself has taken an interest in the matter in its scheme called the Rural Environment Protection Scheme. One of the guidelines relating to the scheme is headed "Protect features of historical and archaeological interest". So let us hope that there is now an end to the thoughtless destruction of our ring forts or moats that took such a lamentable toll of our architectural heritage over a period of years a couple of decades or so ago.
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