Poulawack : Souterrain

CountyClare
Grid RefR 234 987
Longitude9° 8' 31.07" W
Latitude53° 2' 0.69" N
ITM east480366
ITM north584435
Nearest TownKilfenora (6.9 Km)
OS Sheet51
UTM zone29U
UTM x449041
UTM y5761192
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Visit Notes

Sunday, 27th October 2002

Close to the track leading to Poulawack (County Clare) is a small rath. If you look closely you will see a gaping hole in the near wall. This is the souterrain .

This hole opens into a large chamber, 4m x 1.6m x 2m, integral to the wall. It is heavily lintelled. On the inside wall is a small opening or creep which leads into the very collapsed passage section that goes into the centre of the rath. This 6m long pasage twists and turns and I suspect follows a natural large fissure in the limestone. This too is lintelled.

These are underground structures the purpose of which is a cause for some debate. They are considered to be either for food storage, refuge when under attack and ritual use amongst other things. They are often associated with raths, early Christian settlements and cashels.

The building methods vary. The walls can be either drystone, orthostats or rock cut (i.e. cut straight into the bedrock). The roofs tend to be made from lintels (which can be seen very clearly at Poulawack (County Clare)) and it is quite common to find ogham stones used for this purpose (see Drumlohan Ogham Stones (County Waterford)).

As well as one or many underground passages they can contain chambers. Some definitely seemed to be defensive because evidence has been found at some indicating a door that locked from the inside.

Often the tunnels are on different levels and accessed through holes in the floor or ceiling of another tunnel called drop-holes.

Click Thumbnail to View Full Size Image

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About Coordinates Displayed

This is an explanation of (and a bit of a disclaimer for) the coordinates I provide.

Where a GPS figure is given this is the master for all other coordinates. According to my Garmin these are quite accurate.

Where there is no GPS figure the 6 figure grid reference is master for the others. This may not be very accurate as it could have come from the OS maps and could have been read by eye. Consequently, all other cordinates are going to have inaccuracies.

The calculation of Longitude and Latitude uses an algorithm that is not 100% accurate. The long/lat figures are used as a basis for calculating the UTM & ITM coordinates. Consequently, UTM & ITM coordinates are slightly out.

UTM is a global coordinate system - Universal Transverse Mercator - that is at the core of the GPS system.

ITM is the new coordinate system - Irish Transverse Mercator - that is more accurate and more GPS friendly than the Irish Grid Reference system. This will be used on the next generation of Irish OS maps.

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