Field research – literally

As a child I often visited my uncle’s farm in Fermanagh and stayed for a few days at a time. One of the jobs my cousins and I had to was take the cows from their grazing pasture to the milking parlour and back again. This usually involved a very early start but I didn’t mind.

I remember one day, we’d just reached the top of the lane and the cows were making their way along the little country road leading to their field when by chance I happened to look over the hedge into the field of the neighbouring farm. There, near the corner of the field was a series of raised earthen rings. I think my cousins called it a fairy fort but looking back it was the remains of an ancient ringfort perhaps from as early as the Bronze Age.

Apart from that farmer and his family and my Uncle’s family, I doubt anyone knew it was there. The land was just pasture and it wasn’t bothering the cows so there it sat and probably still sits to this day.

To say Ireland is littered with such sites is an understatement, they’re all over though like this one, I suspect many go unrecorded and uninvestigated. I’ve always been fascinated by them and by the many standing stones and stone circles found in Ireland, the Isle of Man and all over the UK. The one in the picture is Ballynoe, not far from where I grew up. Although it dates back to Neolithic times, no one really know who built it, why or how it was used. Now, isn’t that a wonderful mystery to set our imaginations roaming?