Guide to Waterford Monuments

 

 

Ring Forts

 

Ring Forts are quite numerous throughout county Waterford. Known locally as a ‘Rath’ or ‘Lio's’, these monuments are also a feature of many farms throughout Ireland with well over 30,000 of them shown on the ordnance survey maps.

The circular enclosures were thought to have been settlements, which date to the Early Medieval Period of around 500-1100AD. Most likely they would have been enclosed farmsteads which contained wooden housing (constructed from Hazel wood) and perhaps farm buildings which may have sheltered cattle in winter. Excavations of some sites have found houses to be of a modest size of just 5 metres in diameter. The Forts, whose interior diameter can range from 15 - 60 metres may have contained a souterrain or a type of subterranean room used probably for storage. Their occupants/owners were most likely a Lord or  a “Bo–Aire” ( prosperous farmer) and the forts may have served a number of families, similar to that of an enclosed community. Some sites like Tara in Co. Meath were associated with royalty and/or had ceremonial purposes.

In recent centuries, these frequently tree and scrub covered circles have remained untouched because of superstitious folklore surrounding them, being often referred to as ‘Fairy Rings’ and the home of Fairies. It was commonly thought that interfering with these sites would bring much bad luck  There is also stories of certain animals such as dogs who will not go near or enter these mysterious circles. Once, back in the 19th century three young men began digging up a fairy mound looking for the treasure buried there. They found nothing. It came as no surprise to the townspeople, when very soon, all three came down with tuberculosis.

Pictured above – Boolattin