A Co. Roscommon Ringfort from the air.

During the early Medieval period, from the seventh to tenth centuries, many farmsteads were enclosed by circular to oval earthen or earth and stone banks, sometimes with palisades, and ditches or stone walls and causewayed entrances. The enclosures range from 20m – 50m internally. The farmsteads themselves consisted of a circular house often with a number of smaller structures. Some ringforts have sub-surface chambers and galleries with secret entrances and exits known as souterrains. Souterrains functioned to safeguard members of the household and stores perishable and valuable items. Ringforts served to protect the households of better-off farmers from livestock and violence as well as displaying the status of the occupants. More than 40,000 examples have been recorded, making them the most prevalent surviving field monument in Ireland. Ringforts are also known locally as fort, dun, rath, lios, cashel, caher and fairy fort.

Further reading
Stout, M. 2000. The Irish Ringfort. Dublin.

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