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The Ring Forts of Inis Mor

The Ring Forts of Inis Mor

I went back to Inis Mor, one of the Aran Islands – the biggest and the most popular. Over 20 years ago I was lucky enough to sail here but it was such a brief stopover that I vowed to return. And so I have. It is an amazing island as anyone who has read ‘The Stones of Aran: Pilgramage’ by Tim Robinson, would know. Made of upper carboniferous limestone strata, most of the island is a massive limestone plateau with no soil, the landscape crosshatched in deep fissures and strewn with slab rock

It is an island of stone walls, wall upon wall upon wall, sometimes fields no bigger than a bedroom surrounded by five foot walls on all sides

Along the clifftops are dotted the most extraordinary Bronze and Iron Age Ring Forts. Such as Dun Aonghasa, the largest and most spectacular, perched on the very edge of 1000 ft cliffs. The original shape was thought to be oval or ‘D’ shaped, but parts of the cliff or fort have since collapsed into the sea. Outside the third ring of walls there is a defensive system of stone slabs, the chevaux de frise, planted in upright positions in the ground, still largely well preserved. The combination of the huge round, simple, beautiful stonework of the three rings of the fort, and the thousands of crazy, jagged shards of limestone, deliberately sunk into the ground at random angles, is a breath-taking sight in this incredible setting. The sheer level of craftsmanship which has survived for so many millenia is awesome. Quite what these Ring Forts were used for nobody really knows



Athene English


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