Friday, November 8, 2013

Loher Fort, County Kerry

Loher Fort in County Kerry is an early medieval defensive farmstead that is beautifully positioned overlooking Ballinaskelligs Bay in County Kerry. It was probably the home of a local chieftain some time from the ninth – eleventh century.

The reconstructed circular drystone wall that surrounds the fort stands around two metres high with steps that lead to a wide rampart. In the interior of the enclosure you can find the foundations of two structures – one rectangular and one circular, presumably houses. When the site was excavated it was discovered that these stone buildings were later additions to the site, and replaced earlier wooden houses. 

 Within the circular structure archaeologists discovered the remains of a souterrain. These underground passageways typically date to the tenth or eleventh century, and there are a number of theories about what they were used for. Often people believe that they were used as refuges during raids, with the narrow passageway being difficult to assault and forcing any attackers to advance one at a time, alternatively they have been interpreted as an early form of a refrigerator or cellar, as they would maintain a constant cool temperature ideal for keeping the all important dairy products fresh. Unfortunately the souterrain at Loher Fort is now covered over and inaccessible, but the site itself is well worth a trip for its stunning views and atmosphere.  

It is easy to find, follow the Ring of Kerry road N70 south of Waterville for about 5mins or so and you’ll see it signposted to the right. This is a narrow road and it goes on for around 10 mins, stick with it and you’ll see a decent carpark on your right and the fort below you. The co-ordinates are 51.78605509 -10.165658

The Ring of Kerry is a beautiful place with a number of fantastic historical sites to visit, particularly the spectacular Skellig Michael, be sure to add Loher to your list of stops if you plan to visit the area!

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