Ards Peninsula

Sunday 18 March

The Kemp Stones

Before exploring the Ards Peninsula, a diversion was made to Dundonald to view and photograph the Kemp Stones (J445736), a large single-chambered grave. The portal stones are perfectly matched and the chamber is formed from four stones with two capstones.

Ballybeen Standing Stone

Ballybeen Standing Stone (J426731) was viewed. It is much defaced by paint and graffiti and surrounded by a lot of rubbish. Dundonald Motte (J418742) was climbed. A standing stone close to Quarry Corner (J443742) was located without much difficulty and photographed. It is about 2m high and 1m square.

Ballyoran Standing Stone near Quarry Corner

The Circle continued through Newtownards towards Greyabbey. A diversion was made to view and photograph a collection of mill buildings at Cunningburn Milltown (J535713). The remains of a waterwheel are still in place and there is a large detached brick chimney. Inside one of the buildings are some structures which may be grain chutes or ventilators. The mill dam (drained) may be seen at the north-east. Lunch was taken at Greyabbey near the rath (J580677).

About 3km south of Kirkcubbin, after some searching, a low cairn was found (J605613). It is greatly overgrown and has no distinctive features. Just north of Ardkeen a rath was visited (J602577). It is a platform, about 60m diameter, with a low bank but no outer bank or ditch. From it can be clearly seen the mound of the castle (J594572).

A diversion was made to view the Bishop�s Mill (J592559) which has a waterwheel. The remains of the old house at the Abbacy (J586545) were also noted. The windmill stump in Ballyherly (J593533) was viewed and photographed from a distance.

Portaferry Castle

Portaferry Castle (J592509) was viewed and photographed from the exterior. The windmill stump near Portaferry Catholic Church (J600505) was viewed and inspected. It sits on a circular, stone-faced platform and one of the doorways has been blocked up. From it may be seen Kilclief, Strangford, Portaferry and Audley�s Castles.

Portaferry Windmill Stump

Ballyfounder Rath was visited (J621495). It is a circular mound about 20m diameter, with traces of an outer bank and ditch. From it can be seen Tara Fort (J627485), Portaferry windmill stump and Millin Bay Cairn (J628495). This cairn was visited. It consists of a low grassy mound with some standing stones. The mound covers a number of burial cists and is thought to date from Neolithic times. About 1km north of this, on the opposite side of the road, is a standing stone (J672499). It is about 160cm high by 130cm wide and 40cm thick. A rath, not marked on the map (J624515), was visited. It is about 35m diameter and has remains of an outer bank and ditch on the south-west side, but has been almost obliterated on the east side. South of this rath is another (J623513) and Ballyfounder rath is also visible. About 1km NNE of this site is a collection of large stones, one of which is standing. It is about 130cm high by 90cm wide and 70cm thick. Another rath was visited south-west of Cloghy (J631552). It is about 45m diameter and has remains of an outer bank and ditch except on the east side. There are some remains of an inner bank on the south side.

A graveyard south of Cloghy (J637551) was investigated. It has a good collection of gravestones ranging from early 18th century to late 19th century. Some of these, from about 1800, feature floral, geometrical and rising-sun motifs. Another interesting feature is the re-use of some graves where a late 19th century stone has been placed in front of and close to an earlier stone. There are also a number of plain stones throughout the graveyard. The souterrain marked to the south-west of the graveyard was not located.

Kirkistown Castle

Kirkistown Castle (J644580) was visited. It is now in State Care and is closed to the public until further notice. It is a tower-house with some early 19th century alterations. There are substantial remains of a bawn wall with two corner turrets.