North-west Ulster

Thursday 29 October

A brief visit was made to the Six Mile Water near Muckamore. Near the Bog Head are the remains of two mills. The smaller mill, beside the car park (J158853), has little of interest and was noted in passing. A short distance upstream (J163852) is the shell of a three-storey mill, five bays long and four bays deep. It has a very fine waterwheel. This is about 6m diameter and 3m wide, and is undershot. It has a metal rim and buckets and wooden spokes. The mill building is of stone with brick at the windows and doors. The millrace is in very good condition.

A rath near Castledawson was investigated (H920933). It is about 25m diameter with a good bank. The entrance may have been in the south-east. The bank is planted with trees and is in good condition except for some erosion on the outside on the east side. The interior has low vegetation. There are no traces of an outer bank or ditch. Another rath (H894958) and Maghera Old Church (C855002) were noted in passing.

Friday 30 October

Some remains of the Londonderry & Lough Swilly Railway were inspected. A viaduct crosses the main road (C088253). The remains consist of three stone arches and a stone pier. The Owencarrow Viaduct was viewed (C069252). On the west side are two masonry arches leading to five stone piers. In the middle are two metal piers and seven more stone piers on the east side.

A mill was investigated (B998355). It has a good waterwheel about 6.5m diameter, with wooden buckets and a metal rim and spokes. It is high breast-shot and is enclosed by a roofless outshot from the mill. There are some traces of the flume and tailrace. The mill is three storeys high by five bays long and two bays deep. The gearing from the wheel may be seen at the ground floor and there is also a grain elevator. At the first floor there were two sets of stones. One of these has been removed. A section of the building houses a corn kiln and the perforated drying floor is intact.

The remains of a court-tomb were inspected in Errarooey Beg (B967345). Only one chamber can be seen and there is now no trace of the court. The structure is about 5m long by more than 1m wide. The backstone is the tallest being about 1.5m high. The other stones are much lower and the structure is set among a great deal of field clearance.

Another court-tomb in Ballyboe was investigated (B958337). The total structure is about 40m long running W - E. More than half of this is a long cairn at the west end. This is greatly overgrown but seems to have a court-tomb with a full circular court about 6m diameter. There is a gallery with at least two chambers running eastwards. A short distance to the east are two separate structures featuring very tall stones. One stone is more than 2m high. These may be the remains of portal tombs.

Ray Church (B955333) is a simple rectangular structure with four round-headed windows in the south wall, a blocked east window and a pointed west doorway. Attached to the inside of the north wall is a tall cross with some possible decoration on the east arm. It has a very narrow ring. At the base are three perforated stones which may have been millstones but they are very roughly finished. One of the perforations seems to be helical and another of the stones has been adapted as a cross base. A number of carved fragments have been set up inside the south windows. These may have come from an earlier structure. A short distance to the south-west of the church is a stone with a large bullaun. A standing stone at the north-east corner of the graveyard is at least 2m high by about 1m wide and 15cm thick.

In Ballymore Lower (C061341), Caislean Lílí, is a greatly overgrown and ruinous structure. Its true nature and dimensions could not be determined. Doe Castle (C085318) is a very fine structure consisting of a central square keep to which is attached a lower round tower and a two-storey rectangular building. The lower buildings have good crenellations. The bawn wall is very complete with square bartizans at three corners. At the north-east corner is a small round turret with a bartizan. The wall walk may be followed for most of the perimeter. A good machicolation protects the west gate and a small rectangular gatehouse spans a rock-cut ditch which runs along the west wall. A passageway leads from the courtyard to the postern gate beneath the gatehouse. At the north-east corner of the central building is a small conical tower two storeys high. The central square tower is about four storeys high but it was locked on this occasion and the interior could not be investigated. A fine decorated gravestone is attached to the wall of the larger round tower.

Saturday 31 October

A rath was investigated (C924264). It has a low platform about 20m diameter but no traces of banks or ditches. At Balnamore (C920248) a mill was inspected from the roadside. It consists of a series of two-storey buildings, mainly roofless and apparently derelict. Beside it is a more modern building to which access is forbidden. The interior of the mill could not be inspected and the nature of the power source could not be determined. Another rath was investigated (C967209). It has a low dish-shaped platform about 25m diameter surrounded by a broad shallow ditch. There are no traces of any banks.

Dooey's Cairn, at Ballymacaldrack, was visited (D021182). It is a very fine example of a court-tomb. Some of the cairn and most of the orthostats remain. The structure consists of a semicircular court about 5.5m wide and 7m deep. A number of small stones are packed between the large orthostats. Leading from the court is a short gallery with a single chamber about 2m long. It has good portal stones. Beyond this chamber is a much larger structure about 7m long and 1m wide. It appears to be built with much smaller stones than the rest of the tomb and is filled with sand. There is a good set of kerbstones on either side of the cairn which is about 20m long by 12m wide.

A possible mill was investigated (D037182). There are two mill dams, one above the level of the mill and one below. The headrace seems to have been totally enclosed at one time. There is no trace of a wheel and the mill building seems to be relatively modern with an asbestos roof on one section. There are traces of the tailrace.

Near Mount Hamilton there is a very fine rath (D064199). It has a good platform about 50m diameter and fairly high in places. This is surrounded by a broad deep ditch but there are no banks. The outer slopes of the platform are planted with bushes and the ditch is flooded in places. The original entrance is not clear but there are two small causeways in the south and west. Some of the ditch appears to be stone-faced but it is not clear if this is an original feature.

Another rath was inspected (D077208). It is less well preserved and defined and appears to be a platform higher in the north than in the south. There may be traces of a ditch on the north side but the rath is overgrown with thistles and long grass and it is difficult to determine the size and true shape of the structure. Part of the platform may be stone-faced. This is possibly Lislaban.

Two standing stones were investigated. This first one (D082234) may be schist and is more than 2m high by about 1m wide and 40cm thick. About 100m west another stone (D081234) stands about 3m high. It is about 1m wide and 60cm thick at the base and tapers slightly. At Loughguile (D082252) there is a standing stone about 2m high by 60cm square at the base and tapering. It is schist with quartz nodules. Another stone was noted from the roadside (D086253).

Shanes motte and bailey (D077298) was briefly inspected. It is poorly preserved being greatly eroded in places. The motte is relatively low compared to the bailey and it is aligned SE - NW.

A small standing stone was viewed from the roadside near Kilraghts (D011257). It may be about 1m high by 50cm square and tapering slightly.

Another rath was investigated (C908298). It has a good platform and ditch on the west side but is greatly mutilated and quarried on the south-east side. There are traces of an inner bank on the south side. The platform is planted with long grass thistle and whin and the ditch is planted with thorn. The estimated diameter is 25 - 30m but it was not measured.

Sunday 1 November

Beside the ruined church in Conwal graveyard (C139105) is a mound in which are set a number of carved stones. One features a human figure with raised arms. There are a number of cross-inscribed stones including one about 2m long with a ring-headed cross in relief. One of the other large stones has a small cross carving and one of the small stones has a key pattern. The walls of the church are about 1m high generally and featureless. The gravestones in the churchyard are mainly modern with some late 19th century stones. There are a number of very fine Celtic Revival memorial crosses.

A standing stone in Ballymaleel was inspected (C205147). It is about 1.7m high by 30cm square at the base, tapering slightly. There are many grooves and knobs and it is fitted with a concrete cap in which is set a metal spike.

Killydonnell Friary (C249183) was visited. The remains are ruinous and overgrown and consist of a nave and chancel church with a south transept. There are a number of buildings attached to the north. These originally had two storeys but the upper level is now fragmentary. The lower storeys are vaulted. There are two large recesses in the east wall of the transept. The small vaulted chambers to the north of the church may have been the sacristy and has been converted for use as a burial vault by the Stewart Family.

Rathmullan Priory (C293276) is an extensive ruin which consists of a nave and chancel church with a south transept. The cloister and domestic buildings were to the north. Between the nave and chancel is a tall slim tower which may be climbed by a narrow spiral stairway. There is a fine double piscina in the east wall of the transept and two good ogee-headed windows. The exterior of the east window of the chancel could not be closely inspected but it has a hood mould terminating in stylised foliage. In the south wall is a two-light window featuring a hood mould with two head terminals. The church was altered for use as a dwelling in the early 17th century. These alterations included the construction of two angle turrets on the west wall. These are carried on moulded corbels. The west wall of the transept has been altered and a fine doorway inserted. There are traces of fireplaces in the nave and transept. The graveyard and part of the interior of the ruin are greatly overgrown. This makes close inspection very difficult.

A search for the cross-slab in Drumhallagh Lower was unsuccessful. The court- tomb in Drumhallagh Upper was located (C275318). This is a very fine structure although there is now no trace of a court. It consists of a two-chambered gallery about 7m long and 1m wide. All the orthostats are about 1m high and a large stone in one of the chambers may be a displaced capstone.

A penal site was investigated (C269299). It consists of a small altar which is in a modern setting with easy access. A standing stone in Carnfeagh (C279284) was inspected. It is built into a roadside fence and is about 2m high by 30cm thick. It narrows from about 2m wide at the base to about 1m at the top.

A court-tomb in Crevary Upper (C276276) was inspected. The ruin consists of two tall portal stones about 1.5m high flanking a low sillstone. Two stones running stone from the portals may be part of a gallery but may also be part of a field boundary.

Monday 2 November

A search for the rath near Drumsteeple (C884242) was unsuccessful. At Milltown Bridge the mill is now used as a motorcycle repair shop (C889242). There are good traces of the headrace and wheel-pit but no remains of the wheel. Another possible mill building was inspected (C875217). It is three storeys high by six bays long and three bays deep. The bottom storey was empty and access to the upper levels was not possible. There are traces of a tailrace.

Tamnyrankin Court Tomb (C833103) was inspected. It is set in a cairn about 25m long by 12m wide. The court is about 5.5m wide by 7m deep and leads to a small antechamber about 1m by 1.5m. The gallery has two chambers each about 1.5m square. There are a number of corbel stones in place. At the back of the cairn a passage, about 1m wide, runs the full width of the cairn. This may have been two subsidiary tombs with the dividing stones now missing. There are a number of kerbstones visible and a great deal of cairn material present. About 100m south-west are three standing stones less than 1m high. These may be the remains of another tomb.

Maghera Railway Station (C857007) was viewed. The main building and both platforms are intact. The building consists of a two-storey house attached to a single- storey section with waiting-room. It is mainly of red brick with yellow and black brick trim. The gents' toilet, including sign, is still in place. There is a fine platform canopy in good condition. To the north is the goods shed, also with a canopy. All the buildings are in use.

A rath was visited (C718067). It is about 28m diameter with some stone in the bank. There is a gap in the north and some traces of a ditch. At the top of the hill (C719068) is a small cashel now greatly ruined. At its edge is a burial cist about 1.5m long and 50cm wide, with possibly a small antechamber. Beside it is a large slab which may have been a capstone. At one end of the cist is a standing stone about 1m high. A third rath (C712067) is about 27m internal diameter with a very good bank partly faced with stone. It is high except on the north side and there is a large gap in the north-east. There is a very good ditch to the south and east.

Another visit was made to the megalithic structure in Carrick East (C704174). This has the appearance of a centre-court grave with two single-chambered tombs. However, the court is very small, being about 3m wide, and there does not appear to be any access to the court from the tombs.