Lecale and South Down

Saturday 8 December

The site of a crannog was investigated (J443413). It is a much overgrown area in the middle of a boggy field, surrounded by water-filled ditches. Close inspection was not possible.

Downpatrick motte-and-bailey was visited (J483450). It is a large motte, greatly damaged by quarrying and now having the appearance of a crescent shaped mound, surrounded by a ditch. It is set near one end of a large bailey which has a substantial defensive bank. The sides of the bailey are steep and there is an outer ditch and fragments of an outer bank.

A rath near Lisboy was investigated (J510477). About half the rath remains on one side of a field boundary. Close to the boundary is a small souterrain which may be entered through a hole in the roof. It is T-shaped. The stem of the T is about 1m long and the crosspiece is about 4m long. In the field beside the rath is a small standing-stone. Nearby is a second rath (J514479). It is greatly overgrown and there are traces of an outer bank and ditch. Lisboy windmill stump (J513481) was noted in passing.

Audley's Castle

Audley's Castle (J578506) was visited. It is a 15th century tower-house set at the edge of a small bawn, the foundations of which are visible. The ground floor room is rectangular with two small wall cupboards. A spiral stairway rises in one corner to roof level. The first floor room has a vaulted ceiling. There are four recessed windows with seats. There is a fireplace and four wall recesses, one with a slopstone. In the corner is a garderobe with a narrow window which overlooks the doorway. Just outside the doorway to the main room is a murder-hole which protects the entrance to the ground floor room. On the second floor is another large rectangular room and a second garderobe with a corbelled ceiling. Above this garderobe, at roof level, are the remains of a small turret. In the opposite corner is another small turret rising above roof level. The tower-house is rectangular with two projecting corners on one wall. These house the stairway and garderobes. The gap between these projections is spanned, at roof level, by an arch. This serves as a machicolation to guard the entrance area.

Strangford Castle

Strangford Castle (J589498) is a small rectangular tower with a machicolation over the doorway. The ground floor room has a number of small defensive loops. A wooden stairway leads to the upper storeys. The first floor room has a fireplace and two windows with window-seats. Beside the fireplace is a small oven and in the opposite wall are the remains of a second chimney. The second floor room has two windows with seats and the remains of a fireplace which shares a chimney with to one below. The allure is intact and there are crenellations.

Kilclief Castle

A greatly mutilated motte (J598462) was noted near Kilclief. Kilclief Castle (J597457) is closed at present. It is larger but similar to Audley's Castle. Renovation work is in progress.

At Chapeltown (J572400), St Mary's Church was viewed. Attached to the gable is a medieval Madonna and Child with modern heads. Above the doorway is a small cross-inscribed stone and outside the door are two multiple-bullaun stones. A chambered grave near Ardtole was investigated (J567388). It is a small untidy cairn with no distinguishable features.

Jordan's Castle

Jordan's Castle, Ardglass (J559372) is under renovation and closed at present. It is similar to Kilclief and Audley's Castles with a second smaller machicolation over the doorway.

Knockavally Mound (J532361), near Killough, was noted in passing. It is a small, low, grass-covered mound. Lismahon Motte (J429389) was noted in passing.

The souterrain at Ballybannan (J363356) was investigated. Close to one edge of a small cashel is a low rectangular platform. At one end may be seen a lintel which apparently marks the entrance to a souterrain. Access was not possible. Another souterrain was investigated (J343395). It is set within the remains of a small cashel. It is about 14m long and over 1m wide. The height varies from about 1m to 1.5m and the roof is intact for about 12m. About 1m inside the entrance a side passage runs off to the left. It is about 5m long and 2m wide at the inner end. It is similar in height to the main passage.

Sunday 9 December.

Within the ruins of a small cashel (J309376) is a souterrain about 8m long with 3m intact. Nearby is a rath (J310378). The interior is littered with stones which may be field clearance and close to one edge are the remains of a T-shaped souterrain. The stem of the T is about 7m long and the crosspiece is about 12m long. A number of lintels are in place. The souterrain is less than 1m high and the rath is about 35m diameter.

Another rath was investigated (J271398). It is a large circular mound about 30m diameter at the top. It has very steep sides and is about 6m high. There is no outer bank or ditch. A rath at Ballyward (J271381) was visited. It is a very low platform about 40m diameter with no outer bank or ditch. A rath near Drumlee was investigated (J271366). It is about 30m diameter with traces of an inner bank. Nearby is another rath of similar size (J276363). It is greatly overgrown.