Binder’s Cove Souterrain

Binder’s Cove, or Finnis Souterrain, near Finnis in Co. Down

Last year, when I was crawling through the wet, muddy and claustrophobic Claigan Souterrain on the Isle of Skye and getting muddy from head to foot, I thought of Binder’s Cove and longed for a bit of luxury in my souterrain exploration.
Binder’s Cove is easy to find, has parking beside the road, a footpath up to the site, steps down to the souterrain and it’s own lighting, powered by the solar panels at the entrance.

Binder's Cove Souterrain  (6)
Solar panels power the lighting for the souterrain

There are thousands of souterrains in Ireland but few are easily accessible. This well-preserved 9th century souterrain was opened to the public in 2003 after the landowner and Banbridge District Council thought that it would be a good idea to open the site to the public and give locals and visitors the opportunity to see inside what was a very common, but hidden, feature of the early Christian landscape.
Work was carried out to stabilize the stonework, install the solar panels and lighting and also improve the mud floor so that visitors don’t get muddy.

 

Binder's Cove Souterrain
The lights switch off automatically after 15 mins but can be switched on again by pushing the button on any of the individual lights (if you can find the light switch in the dark!). It’s amazing how quickly 15 minutes pass when you’re exploring a fairly large souterrain and when the lights went out I was glad I had my headtorch.

The main passage is 30m long and has two shorter passages of about 6m leading off on the right hand side. The entrance passage is only 1m high, so a bit of a squeeze at the beginning, but then the height increases to 1.5m.

 

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7. Binder's Cove Souterrain

There was some shallow water at the very end of the main passage. In this part of the tunnel my breath (at least I assumed it was my breath) appeared as a white mist in front of me – very spooky!

It is called Binder’s Cove because Binder was the name of a previous owner of the field and Cove is a corruption of cave, a common term for a souterrain in Ireland.

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