For walkers with a keen interest in local history, Sligo has an exceptional wealth of archaeological monuments spread throughout the county, from mounds and tombs to castles and medieval churches. It’s incredible to think that in County Sligo alone, there are in excess of 6,500 of these sites.
Throughout 2018, the Sligo Community Archaeology Project is working on the promotion, knowledge and understanding of these sites, and in creating awareness of their value as a local archaeological resource. The programme, which is being funded by the Heritage Office of Sligo County Council in conjunction with The Heritage Council, will also look at how heritage trails, exhibitions or events might be developed at some of these locations.
The archaeologist managing this project is Tamlyn McHugh of Fadó Archaeology in Sligo. She is tasked with visiting and reviewing many of the varied archaeological sites and monuments across the county. Each site is assessed in terms of its present condition, accessibility, and the potential for inclusion in heritage trails.
Tamlyn has chosen 4 locations for Sligo Walks readers to visit. She says that “they may not be well known archaeological sites, some are off the beaten track but are in stunning locations and well worth visiting.”
Please note that when visiting these sites and monuments be mindful that they are protected under National Monuments legislation and no damage or removal of material should take place.
Carn Hill cairns, Carraroe
The beautiful woodland trail of Carns Hill starts along Holywell Road and is well signposted. On the summit of the hill is a cairn of stones; this heap of stones likely contains a burial chamber and is classified as a Neolithic passage tomb. The tomb is overgrown with trees and bushes but the enormity of the structure can still be clearly seen. A further tomb is located a short distance to the southwest.
Glennawoo Crannóg, Lough Talt
Glennawoo Crannóg is set in the scenic surrounding of beautiful Lough Talt. Crannógs are defined as small circular man-made islands, in lakes or marshland, serving the same function as ringforts as fortified dwellings, and used during much the same period in the Early Medieval. They were constructed of layers of material such as lake-mud, brushwood and stones with a palisade of closely-set wooden stakes around the perimeter to consolidate the structure and act as a defensive barrier. The stumps of these stakes are often visible, preserved by the water logged conditions. These conditions also preserve other wooden and leather objects making these sites particularly interesting to archaeologists. To visit Glennawoo Crannóg take the trail along the western shore of Lough Talt; the crannóg is a short distance from the beginning of the trail.
Castleore Stone Fort, Ballintogher
Castleore Stone Fort, is a stone fort or cashel situated near Ballintogher and Lough Gill, and signposted along the Sligo to Dromahair road. Stone forts of this kind are largely concentrated in the west of Ireland and were probably constructed as homesteads from 500-800AD. A cashel is a roughly circular or oval area surrounded by a stone wall or walls. The earthen equivalent to a cashel is a ringfort.
Located on a natural hillock substantial dry stone walls enclose the fort. According to local tradition a subterranean passageway led to the bottom of the hill. Souterrains are subterranean stone lined structures consisting of one or more chambers connected by narrow passages or creepways; functioning for defence and for food storage.
St. Kieran’s Holy Well, Kilmactiege
This holy well is hidden in scenic woodland on the slopes behind Kilmactiege. This signposted trail begins near the old national school and brings the visitor to this beautiful well. Beginning at the church the pilgrimage to the well formerly took place on the last Sunday in July. The sacred water was used to heal sick cattle, ensuring a greater butter yield for the coming year and a rag was hung on the rag tree as an offering.
Any Sligo based community groups who are currently involved in, or who are considering developing a Community Archaeology Project in their area can contact Tamlyn McHugh directly on Mobile: 086 8706529 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The ‘Sligo Community Archaeology Project’ is an initiative of Sligo Heritage Forum and is an action of the County Sligo Heritage Plan 2016 – 2020. The project is funded by Sligo County Council in partnership with The Heritage Council and is being delivered by Tamlyn McHugh of Fadó Archaeology on behalf of the Heritage Office, Sligo County Council.