Drumena Cashel and Souterrain

Drumena cashel wall)
Within the walls of Drumena Cashel

This cashel, near Castlewellan, Co. Down, is a great example of a cashel, or ringfort. It was a common type of farmstead in early medieval times, where the farm was enclosed within a strong circular wall. Drumena Cashel is roughly circular in shape, about 40m wide and with walls up to 3m thick.
Some excavations and restoration took place in the 1920’s and the present entrance to the cashel is probably not the original entrance.

Drumena CashelFoundations of a house that had been built inside the fort at some time. The long wall behind is part of the cashel wall.

Like many cashels and raths, there is a souterrain within the enclosure and this would have been used for storage and maybe also as a refuge. This souterrain is particularly well-preserved.

Drumena souterrain (3)
Entrance to the souterrain with cashel wall behind

Both the fort and souterrain are easily accessible and the souterrain is big enough to walk around in comfortably. The souterrain is T-shaped and has 2 entrances, one with steps down into it, which were probably put in when it was restored (see title photo).

It is much easier to access than many souterrains and if these are the original entrances they weren’t built to deter invaders. So many souterrains have a low entrance that you have to crawl through, or at least crouch down to get in and then just as you get inside and start to straighten up there might be a protruding stone, deliberately placed to bang your head on!
It is certainly a more superior type of souterrain than some I have been in!
Drumena Souterrain entrance (2)

Drumena souterrain (1)

Drumena souterrain (2)

One of the passages leads to a small chamber which has an air hole in one of its walls.

 

Drumena souterrain
Spiral shapes on one of the stones inside the souterrain

 

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