South Ards



Wednesday 17 March

The extensive remains of Grey Abbey (J583682) were viewed. This Cistercian abbey was founded in 1193 by Affreca, the wife of John de Courcy and is a daughter-house of Holm Cultram, Cumbria. The ruins consist of a cruciform church, chapter house, refectory and other buildings on three sides of a cloister-garth. There are no remains of the cloister arcade. The church is on the north side and the east and west ends are fairly complete. The area under the tower crossing is very fragmentary. There is a very fine west doorway and some good lancet windows in the chancel. The transepts are fragmentary but there were two east chapels on each side. There is a string course with some good carved masks on the outside of the north and south walls of the chancel. There is a niche with an effigy in the north wall of the chancel and a piscina and a single-seat sedilia in the south wall.
The archaeological remains at Ardkeen (J593571) were viewed from a distance. On the summit of Castle Hill is a mound enclosed on the North and east by a ditch. Nearby is a small ruined church. The site at Castleboy was examined (J625557). Here there is a fragment of a tower-house consisting of an east wall standing to about two storeys. There was a projecting tower at the south-east corner with a small window at first floor level and a vertical shaft (latrine-chute or chimney). About 100m to the north-west is the low rectangular ruin of a church.

Beside the main road to Portaferry, in Derry (J612523), are the remains of two churches. The larger church to the North has a small east window but the ruins are generally low except in the east wall. There is a small cross-inscribed stone here. The smaller south church has antae projecting on both east and west gables. The church is well preserved at the east but low at the West. There are small windows at the east and south.
Portaferry Castle (J593508) was viewed from the outside. This rectangular castle has a projecting tower on the south corner. The east corner is ruined but otherwise the castle stands to about three storeys plus roof. There does not appear to be a vault at any level.

Tullyboard Windmill stump stands on a low circular platform overlooking Portaferry. From this position can be seen the castles at Audley's, Castleward, Strangford and Kilclief. Ringforts at Ballyfounder and Tara can also be seen.
Ballyfounder Rath (J621496) consists of a circular platform about 30m diameter. There is a good steep bank but little trace of the narrow, shallow ditch evident during excavation in 1955.
Tara Rath (J627485) has a steep platform about 30m diameter with a good inner bank and ditch. There are some traces of an outer bank on the west side. There is an entrance causeway and gap on the east side.
The cairn at Millin Bay, in Keentagh townland, (J628495) appears now as a number of standing stones projecting from a grassy mound. Excavation 40 years ago revealed a long burial cist containing the bones of at least 15 individuals and the cremated bones of another. There are nine other smaller cists. The central long cist was surrounded by an oval arrangement of small upright stones. Many of these stones had incised and pecked decoration of zigzags, triangles, lozenges etc. similar to the decoration in the Boyne Valley and Loughcrew Passage Graves.

Quintin Castle (J632505) was viewed from the outside. A. small tower-house existed here in the 16th century. It was rebuilt with additions in the 17th century and later rebuildings in the 19th century produced the present castellated structure.

Rapid progress was made northwards with a motte, windmill-stump and castle being noted at Kirkistown in passing. Dunover Motte (J605703) was examined. It is about 15m diameter on the top and about 10m high with some traces of an encircling ditch.



TOURS