Meath and Down

Saturday 23 June

The Circle travelled to County Meath. Two standing-stones were noted in passing (N676752). At Diamor, a large motte was investigated (N598744). It is situated at the north end of a low ridge and has a stepped structure. This gives it the appearance of a small mound on top of a larger mound. It is about 20m diameter at the top. About 100m SE of the motte is a smaller one of similar appearance. A short distance WSW is a third motte (N592740) and a rath (N590740).

About 1km west of Drumone a fragment of a castle was investigated (N545750). It is set on top of a motte. To the North is an overgrown graveyard (N544751) with a fragment of a church. At the north end of the graveyard is a rectangular tower with remains of a spiral stairway in one corner. About 100m west of the tower is a small rath (N545751).

About 2km north-east of this site two raths (N560770, N559773) and a standing-stone (N563772) were noted. Continuing round Slieve na Calliagh another rath (N573784) and a standing-stone (N580793) were noted.

The Circle continued south-east towards Athboy and a diversion was made to view Rathmore Church (N746666). This is a small nave and chancel church with a tower at the west end. There is a good east window. Just inside the doorway is the shaft of a font with good figure decoration. There are a number of carved fragments on display including a slab with a maze on it. To the right of the altar is a reconstructed sedilia with a fine fan-vaulted ceiling. There are good carved weepers on the end panels of the altar. In the sacristy is a double effigy tomb of a knight and his lady. The figure of the lady is badly damaged. In the churchyard is a fragment of an early 17th century memorial cross with figure carving. To the north-east of the church is a fragment of a castle (N748668).

About 3km WSW of Athboy, close to the border with County Westmeath, are the remains of a castle (N678623). It is a rectangular tower with two round towers at opposite corners. It has a good vaulted room at ground level and is complete to first floor level with fragments of the upper storeys at one side. About 2km SSW of Athboy is a fragment of another castle (N705615). Only one wall and a few fragments remain. About 2km east of Athboy is the Hill of Ward. It is a large multivallate circular earthwork, partially mutilated and much overgrown.

Rapid progress was made towards Knowth (N996734) where the current excavations were viewed. There seems to have been little change in the past year. The passage-graves and souterrain at Dowth (O025737) were visited.

Sunday 24 June

The first visit was to some chambered graves at Goward (J237297). A much-ruined grave forms part of a field boundary. The remains suggest a court-grave or a wedge-grave. Nearby is a good court-grave with a well-defined court and gallery. About 100m north of this site is a much-disturbed cairn and on top of the hill is a low round cairn (J238300).

Rapid progress was made to Drumena where a ruined cashel was examined (J309337). South-west of this is a round cairn (J306336) containing a megalithic cist, the capstone of which has been pushed to one side. In the next townland, Moneyscalp, is a good section of a souterrain (J318342). The stone wall close to the souterrain may be part of a cashel.

The final visit was to the scutch-mill complex at Ballinran (J315188). Two buildings house separate sets of scutching blades. There are traces of the wheel-pit and the mill dam. In one of the buildings is a vertical flax-breaker. There is a small engine-house with a chimney-stack.