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Fahan Group and Dún Beg Fort , Ireland


     Ringforts and Beehive huts are the most numerous and widespread field monuments in Ireland—the majority of which were enclosed farmsteads despite the defensive connotation implied by the name fort. The landscape along the Dingle Peninsula is dotted with several Iron Age (500 B.C.-A.D. 500) dry-stone forts, known as the Fahan Group, these huts were often found attached to each other with a doorway and are generally round like a beehive—erected in the form of a circle of successive strata of stone rising upward until only a small opening was left at the top, which was closed by a capstone. This method of building is called corbelling.

     Dún Beg Fort, situated on a precarious cliff above the Atlantic, is most impressive due to its spectacular ocean side setting at the base of Mount Eagle—despite having partially crumbled into the sea below. Plenty of interest remains at the site, and you can walk a path down to the ruins for €3, but we opted to skip the admission fee and simply view the fort from the road.

     Saving our Euros and our legs for the next grouping of Beehive Huts, we continued driving clockwise on Slea Head Drive (R559) east from Ventry—parking in the public car park one kilometer from Dún Beg Fort, where we then climbed the steep path that winds up the southern slope of Mount Eagle to the Fahan Group of clocháns (stone beehive huts). Entrance to the site is €2, and the small fee is used by the National Monument Group to cover maintenance—the site also offers WC facilities (loved the sign on the inside of the outhouse door-see photograph).

     At the top of the incline, after a hike of about a tenth of a mile, you will find yourself in the middle of a group of beehive huts—explore the lintelled passageways, paved pathways, beehive interiors, and triple clocháns of corbelled drystone (without mortar) structures of this fortress-like grouping to your heart’s content.

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