Dun Aengus

Dun Aengus.jpg

Dun Aengus Hillfort

Dun Aengus is a well known example of a fort, whose remains, and dramatic position make it among the most famous of hillforts. It's otherworldy element, of being a remaining semi circle on a cliff, give it the appearance of a fort, that has lost a perfectly good half to the seas (I don't think that is the case), but that which still looks a defendable site. Which is why it's pic appears strongly in many books about pre-history or hillforts. 

The landmark is mentioned in plenty of Irish myths, and has been celebrated by antiquarians to archaeologists since the 18th Century..


Here are my bullet points on this fort. 

* It sits on a cliff 300 feet high. 

* It is also called Dún Aonghasa, from the most original Irish Gaelic name we know of. Dun Angus, is just a bit of a miss spelling. 

*  It is on Inis Mór, one of the Aran Islands, which is a small distance west of Galway in the west of the Republic of Ireland. 

* It is 6 hectares in size. 

* It was first a hillfort from around 1100 BC. 

* In 500 BC, there were major changes, with triple wall defences formed on the west side of the fort. 

* The drawing above is my own low quality drawing of it, but it took time to postulate. 

* The fort means, "Fort of Aonghas", it is unknown if this refers to a pre-Christian god of Irish mythology, or a king like Aonghus mac Úmhór. It has thus traditionally been associated with the Fir Bolg. 

* The cliff may have in the past been 1000 metres from the sea, 

* The site has been linked with the Fir Bolg, one of the ancient races, in myth of the Irish myths of well before 1000AD. 

* There is a cheval de frise on the fort, which it is felt are to help halt attacks from people on horses, as the stones pointiness, stops that, 

* The Aran Islands, are famously rural today, the home of Aran sweaters and the like, 

* A link to the heritage Ireland website https://heritageireland.ie/places-to-visit/dun-aonghasa/

* The site was fortified again in 700 AD, 

* Islands to the west of Ireland, to me always have that mythical feel, of like the Island of Brasil, a mythical island in Irish mythology, so no wonder there are legends. 

* I remember reading an 19th Century or such era antiquarian travelled miles to see the fort, and that the boatman was puzzled and said he would prefer to have a pint of bitter or beer or something than go all the way to see this fort. 

* The fact is it is a amazing, site, I have never seen it, though, just in pictures. 

* There are many forts which I have seen, such as Maiden Castle in Cheshire (Not the Dorset example), or Castell Cawr, North Wales, which have a Dun Aengus style, of a semi circle above a cliff, but which today overlook plains below, in the North Wales example a costal plain. So the idea that this site once overlooked a coastal plain, rather than the sea, is a interesting theory. Though sometimes I like to imagine there used to be a full circle that was lost to the sea, and sometimes I like to think this site overlooked the sea, as a semi circles overlooking the stormy waves in the sea below. Surely all 3 options existed in some sense for a hillfort in the British Isles at some time, of a site overlooking the sea, of a site overlooking the land, and of a hillfort which gradually was lost to erosion. Whether they were used during those times is open to debate but maybe they were on some level, as refuges, or maybe even as lived through sites. 

My poem on Dun Aengus, William McGonagill style, 

In the western most realm, of Iron Age Northern Europe, Ireland, 

On it's western most far flung from the Irish centre, the Aran Islands, 

Upon on the edge of one of those, Inis Mor, of it's slip of flat greenness, and grey steep dropping cliffs, lands, 

Sits a ancient stone fort, for long ago farmers, priests, warriors, wives, chiefs, and their dependants, 

A half circle of stone, curled round, against the rest of Eurasia, and even it's Irish homeland, 

As if a castle, on the rim of the then known world, cornered up against the Ocean, 

But on the other side, over a 300 foot cliff, then as if again, arms outstretched no wall, looking out onto the endless sea motions,

This empty edge of the then known world, site, looking out on to the realm of calm, and waves, whales, tankers, oil rigs, pirates, fishing fleets, fishes, albatrosses, and sea bird swarms, 

Where it's extraordinarily offbeat idiosyncratically placed embrace against the safety of the precipice, of it's former huts, and residents, 

Would have kept it's people protected and secure, as happy occupants, 

For decades or centuries, any readers and visitors can remember they would have lived there through lives and eras,

Which I can ponder and celebrate that time long gone now, in these current years, 

As Long ago it's people left it, so it has been left a millennia or so in that way a treasure or de facto landscape ornament , so becalmed and silent,

But still Dun Aengus stirring the magical imagination of visitors and locals, and hillforts.co.uk viewers so kind of long they shall be free to view pages websites subscribers,

Plus now, a Limerick by me on the site

There was a young tourist going to Dun Aengus, 

Who to reach there, thinking all was going to plan, travelled by ferry, plane, car and omnibus, 

But when he got there, he was in such dismay and fuss, as he had accidently arrived 1000 miles away in a place that for such a near part of the world, could barely have had more of not what he was looking for, difference,