Lecale and East Down
Saturday 9 December
The first visit was to Wateresk Dolmen at Slidderyford (J394344). This is a very good example of a tripod dolmen. One of the orthostats has a shoulder and the fine thick granite capstone rests within the curved top of this stone and securely on the other two stones.
Glovet Souterrain (J465372) has most of the features associated with these structures. Entrance is made through a metal trapdoor and down a short ladder. This leads to a passage about 1m wide by 1.5m high and 5m long. At this point the souterrain divides and a passage about 5m long goes off to the left. A concrete wall is now built just before the inner end of this passage.
The main souterrain passes straight ahead through a creep about 40cm high and 1m long. This leads to a passage less than 1m wide by 1.5m high and 11m long. A second creep occurs at this point. Passage through this involves climbing onto a ledge about 50cm high and down through a hole about 40cm square. The creep is more than 1m long. Another passage is reached. This is similar to the previous passage but is about 14m long. The third creep is similar to the second but is not as neatly constructed. An inner passage is reached through this. It runs at right angles to the rest of the souterrain and is about 5m long. The souterrain is in very good condition throughout with very little water occurring. There is at least one ventilation shaft and the air is clean.
Lough Money Dolmen (J539464) is a neat structure. The capstone rests on two thick sidestones. There is no cairn material. A short distance away in Carrownacaw, is a very fine standing stone which leans over at a steep angle.
Audleystown Cairn (J562504) contains a double court grave. Each grave has a shallow court leading to a four-chambered gallery. There are some traces of corbelling within the chambers. The substantial remains of the cairn are held in place by dry-stone walling.
Audley’s Castle (J578506) is a good example of a tower house (unfortunately locked on this occasion). The NE and SW walls project beyond the SE wall to form two turrets. The gap between these is spanned at roof level by a large machicolation. The door is in the south turret and leads to a spiral stairway. The entrance to the ground floor is protected by a murder hole. The east turret contains garderobes and there is a double latrine chute in the NE wall. The tower is three storeys high plus roof and is vaulted above the first floor. The remains of at least three small turrets project above roof level. Only the foundation of the bawn wall remains.
Strangford Castle (J589498) is a smaller tower house. There is no sign of any vaulting or a stone stairway. The doorway is protected by a large machicolation at roof level. One of the stones in this structure is pierced by flamboyant tracery like a “triple teardrop in a circle”. There is a fireplace and oven at the first floor. The windows throughout are small and there are some very fine window seats. There are good crenellations and an intact allure.
Kilclief Castle (J307457) is locked but outwardly it resembles Audley’s Castle. It is taller and in better condition. The church at Chapeltown (J572400) was built in 1791. Above the doorway is a very fine cross slab and outside are two bullaun stones. On the east gable is a medieval Madonna and Child with modern heads.
Sunday 10 December
The dolmen at Kilkeel (J307149) forms part of the boundary of a lane. The thick rounded capstone rests on at least three rounded orthostats. There are several smaller stones and the chamber is at least 1m in all dimensions.
Finnis Souterrain (J273442) is generally in good condition and some conservation work has been carried out. Exact measurements were not taken but the main passage is about 1.5m high by more than 1m wide and 30m long. It curved slightly to the left. Two side passages, each about 10m long, run at right angles to the right at about 10m intervals. A small collapse has occurred near the inner end of the second side passage.
The standing stone at Legananny (J303427) is about 2m tall by 40cm wide and 20cm thick. It is shouldered and has a fine inscribed cross with expanded ends.
The souterrain near Clarkhill Woods (J343395) is set within the ruins of a small cashel. It is about 14m long and roofless at one end. The entrance at the other end is clearly defined and leads to a wide souterrain passage more than 1m high. A short side passage on the left, just inside the entrance, leads to a chamber about 2m wide and long and at least 1.5m high. There are very many cave spiders here with interesting teardrop pendant webs.