Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Archaeology 360: Grianán of Aileach, Inishowen, Donegal

In 2020 the question ‘Where did you go on holiday?’ is a more potentially loaded one than I’ve ever known before. Back in February and March we had plans! Oh such plans! They involved airplanes and international travel, but they were not to be. Along came Covid-19 and all hope of such distant delights seemed to evaporate and vanish like a haze on a misty morning – or some other dollop of purple prose. We had the time to take and desire to get away from home, so we hunted around for a place to stay with access to good beaches and cool archaeology. That’s why we set forth across the border for the distant delights of Donegal. It might not come as a huge surprise to learn that I brought the 360-degree camera along for the trip and that the following series of posts all concern our family’s adventures in that gorgeous, beautiful county.


Our first stop on our trip was to see the magnificent Grianán of Aileach. In all my years in archaeology, I’d never managed to get to get to see it … wanted to … meant to … hoped to … didn’t … so here was my chance! I’ll not lie to you … after having built this site up in my mind for so long, I did rather worry that the imagined expectation might not live up to the real-world actuality. I need not have fretted! The site is superb, and the views are breathtaking. The Wikipedia article [here] notes that 'The main structure is a stone ringfort, thought to have been built by the Northern Uí Néill, in the sixth or seventh century CE; although there is evidence that the site had been in use before the fort was built. It has been identified as the seat of the Kingdom of Ailech and one of the royal sites of Gaelic Ireland.', before going on to draw out some of the complexities of the site’s history, morphology, and interpretation. It’s well worth a read to get some context for this remarkable place.


I cannot urge you enough to go see it for yourself, but in the meantime, please enjoy this immersive 360-degree video of the site and its surroundings.



You can view it on an ordinary browser, but for best results we recommend the immersive experience that comes with an Oculus/Google Cardboard headset. Please feel free to Like and Share the video and Subscribe to the Archaeology 360 channel. If you’re feeling peculiarly generous and wish to help purchase snacks to sustain the Chapples Minor in the field, please drop something in the Tip Jar on the top right of this page.