Saturday, May 1, 2021

Archaeology 360: Tully Castle, Co Fermanagh

Belatedly, continuing the tale of the Chapple Family excursion through mid Ulster, we visited the picturesque ruins of Tully Castle on the shores of Lough Erne, in Fermanagh.



Tully is a fortified house and bawn built in 1619 for Sir John Hume, a Scottish planter, having dispossessed the native Maguires of their land. Twenty-two years later, during the 1641 Irish Rebellion, Rory Maguire decided to take back those lands. He arrived with his forces at Tully on Christmas Eve to discover that most of the males of the household were absent and the castle was quickly surrendered to him. While the members of the Hume family were escorted away, Maguire ordered the murder of some 75 others and had the castle burnt. Understandably, it was never inhabited again. By the 1970s it looked close to collapse but has been sensitively conserved and is well worth a visit, though the knowledge the so many met a violent end here does seem to add a haunting feeling to the place.

Most of the photos you'll see of the place show a gorgeous late-medieval-inspired formal garden taking up most of the bawn area. However, in 2016 the Department of Communities decided that this gem of Fermanagh was not in keeping with how the place would have look in its hey day and removed the lot, replacing it with a plain lawn [here]. In their drive for authenticity, I presume they plan to conduct tens of brutal murders here every Christmas Day ... it's sure to draw in the crowds!

Until the guardians of this place start their brutal slaughter of the local populace, please feel free to take a few moments and take a gentle tour through this windy, evocative site.

You can view it on an ordinary browser or on the dedicated YouTube app, 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.

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Archaeology 360: Beaghmore Stone Circles, Co Tyrone

It seems so long ago now, but during one of the inter-lockdown periods of last year the Chapple family headed for the distant shores of mid-Ulster to spend a few days in the open air and experiencing some of the great archaeology of the Tyrone/Fermanagh area. Along the way the Chapples Minor were fed, watered, and introduced to some of the most beautiful and important archaeological sites anywhere you choose to look ... well, in my opinion at any rate.


First on our virtual tour is the Beaghmore complex of Early Bronze Age cairns, stone circles and stone alignments. From excavations carried out from the 1940s onward it has been established that the area has been inhabited since the Neolithic period and that some of the later Bronze Age monuments directly overlie the remains of Neolithic field walls etc. Over-farming throughout these early periods led to a deterioration of soil quality and eventually resulted in the grown of substantial bog cover, which enveloped and protected the site. It was only rediscovered in the late 1930s by a farmer cutting peat.


There is the inevitable question as to what did this collection of stones mean to those who built it. At one level, it is a cemetery, owing the the several cremation burials recorded there. However, the stone rows are (roughly) aligned on various solar and lunar events - you really can take your pick of whatever stones best suit your particular theory. For all that, my favourite is Michael Mac Donagh’s argument that these mid-Ulster sites are meant to mirror the craters on the face of the moon [here]. He's probably not right, but it is my favourite! Be warned though - the site isn't to everyone's taste. Blueface74 decided to go over to Trip Advisor and decry it all as 'some stones in a field' ... and they're quite right. Some of us just loves us some stones in a field & some of us don't! If, like me, you're in the former group, please enjoy this gentle, immersive tour around this gorgeous, wonderful site.


You can view it on an ordinary browser or on the dedicated YouTube app, 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.