North-west Ireland



Saturday 29 April
Magilligan Martello Tower (C661388) was visited. The doorway, which is overhung by a large corbelled projection, is reached by a modern iron stairway. It leads to a large domed room which is divided by a curving wall. The smaller section has a fireplace. A hole in the floor reveals a lower chamber which may be reached by a mural stairway. This chamber has a brick-vaulted ceiling and is divided into three. There is a fireplace in the largest section. A trapdoor in the wooden floor leads to the basement but this is not accessible. The stairway leads upwards to the over-door projection and the roof. There is a rail running the full perimeter within a parapet wall. This portion of the tower has been rebuilt and this rail may be part of a gun emplacement, possibly early 20th century. The tower is built of fine regular blocks of sandstone.
Duncrun Cross-inscribed Stone (C682324) was examined. It is about 125cm high by 45cm at widest and 20cm thick. On it is a cross carved in relief. This cross has a smaller cross-piece and some traces of a shaft below this. It may be a Cross-of-Lorraine. However the lower section is either damaged or poorly carved. The total length of the cross is about 75cm and the widest cross-piece is about 42cm. There is a small mound in the next field which may be a little cairn but it was not closely inspected.
A rath to the north (C688321) now consists of an oval platform with an inner bank on the east side and evidence of quarrying on the west side. It is about 35m by 22m. There is a good outer bank on the east and south sides. At Tamlaghtard (C678313) there is a very fine holy well and rag-tree. Beside the ruined church, at the east end, is a church-shaped saintís tomb with perforation. The present church is unusual in that it is aligned N-S.
The remains of Limavady Railway Station (C673236) consist of two large redbrick buildings, one single-tracked and one double-tracked. There is no trace of the main station building or platforms. Nearby is the Ogilvy Trust National School, built in 1897 and now used as a scout hall.
A greatly mutilated rath (C814260) was inspected. It has a central platform with ditch and bank, and possibly a second ditch and outer bank. A lot of quarrying has disguised the true nature of the structure. The inner platform is about 18m diameter and the ditches are broad. The Grey Stone (C836250) is a large boulder at the edge of a field. It was viewed from the laneway.
In Crevolea (C847233) there is a very fine dolmen with a massive capstone and at least three other large stones. One of these appears to be a side stone and the others may be portals, now collapsed. One of them is under the capstone. The capstone is at least 2m long by 2m wide and 1.5m thick. The type of stone could not be determined due to a covering of lichen.

In Bellury (C878153) there is a low rath platform with a good bank. There are gaps in the east and south and the original entrance is not clear. The platform is about 35m diameter and there are no traces of an outer bank or ditch. In nearby Caulhame (C878154) is a souterrain about 6m long and at least 1m square at the inner end. Here there is a large amount of clay which masks what may be a creep leading to another chamber. However this could not be investigated. The souterrain is built of rounded boulders. Lying inside the entrance is a stone with a possible Ogham inscription. This is a rounded boulder and the inscription is along a scratch mark. It is not deeply incised.
Sunday 30 April
Inch Fort (C310263) is a very modern-looking structure of stone, concrete and plaster, with very thick walls partly surrounded by a strong bank. The interior has at least two large gun positions. There are traces of a number of buildings within the walls but close inspection was not possible due to the presence of a very frisky goat.
Two mills (C327256), side by side, were inspected. They were driven by a breast- shot wheel between them. This is about 50cm wide and 3 - 4m diameter. There are good traces of the head race which is now almost dry, and a very short tail race. The larger mill is two storeys high and is now used as a byre and straw store. Some of the gearing can be seen inside at ground floor level. The smaller mill is single storey and has a large cogwheel within it.
An interesting lime kiln (C328244) was inspected at the roadside. The standard kiln features some brickwork and is now in danger of collapse. Attached to it is a vaulted chamber which was probably a lime store. At the rear of the kiln is a large amount of ash containing shell fragments. This suggests that shell debris from the beach may have been burned as well as limestone.
In Carnaghan (C320237) there is a megalithic tomb with two massive portal stones, about 3m high by 1.7m wide and 35cm thick. Just to the west are some other large stones. One of these is upright, another lies apart and beyond this a large stone rests on a smaller stone and covers a small chamber. This seems to be constructed of small stones like drystone walling. The chamber is about 1m square and there is no easy access. Some stones around may be part of the kerb of a tomb and the whole sits on a low irregular mound which may be the remains of a cairn. The largest of the stones at the back of the tomb is roughly triangular. It is about 2m on each side and about 30cm thick.
Burt Castle (C317193), in Grange townland, is three storeys high. There are traces of a vault above the ground floor and circular flanking towers at the NE and SW corners. The SW flanker contains a spiral stairway which is damaged but can be climbed. The doorway was probably in the south wall where there is a large gap and it would appear to have had a guard room. Above this area is another room which had a vaulted ceiling as had the room above that. The stairway above the first floor is very fragmentary and access to the upper rooms was not possible.
The stair is lit by many small square-headed loops. The upper main room has at least one small single-light window and it may have had a fireplace in the east wall. There are a number of damaged window openings throughout the building but all worked stone has been removed. The NE flanker contains some small rooms. The lower one has a very fine corbelled ceiling. There is a latrine chute exit at the base of the north wall. This apparently leads from a window recess at the first floor.
The small rectangular church (C312197) near the castle had a two-light east window but this is now blocked. The gravestones are mainly 19th and 20th century with some plain stones. There is at least one 18th century (1725) stone. Nearby are good traces of the County Donegal Railway, including three bridges and a long causeway/embankment.
Monday 1 May
The Bishopís Palace, Downhill (C759358) is a large ruin of two storeys. There are extensive vaulted cellars which are now closed. The building has a three-bay front flanked by two three-sided bows. Two long wings run back towards the sea. The doorway is reached by a fine divided stairway. A short distance from the house, at the edge of the cliff, is the domed rotunda known as the Mussenden Temple. This has a very fine vaulted basement which contains a collection of carved stones.
Mount Sandel Fort (C853306) appears to be a very large motte set high above the river. A large amount of it has been quarried, particularly on the side nearer the river. It is protected by a substantial ditch on the landward side and there is a steep drop towards the river. The area around Mount Sandel is known to have been settled in Mesolithic times and it is thought that the original fort may pre-date the Anglo-Normans.



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