Grianan d’Aileach (“Grianan d’Ailech” in Gaelic) is a circular prehistoric fort (called a “ringfort”) dating from the Bronze Age. Built on the hill of Grianán, this fort has become a major archaeological site, a source of mystery and questioning, which is said to have been occupied from the Bronze Age until the 12th century.
The origins of the fort are said to date back to the Bronze Age, and it served as a royal fort for the “Ailech” royal dynasty. The fort has undergone many changes throughout its history. The first modifications can be seen as early as the Iron Age, when 3 outer earthen ramparts were built around the fort. Then comes the Irish Middle Ages, when the fort is equipped with another stone fort, measuring 23 meters in diameter.
The fort was occupied until the 12th century, when the territory was invaded by the Normans. The fortress was finally destroyed by Murtogh O’Brien, King of Munster in 1101.
The ruined fort was only discovered in 1830 by George Petrie, an archaeologist who launched a vast campaign to restore the site between 1874 and 1878. The majority of the site remained intact and the restoration consisted mainly of consolidating the site’s foundations using the fallen stones around the fort.
Since then, the fort has been accessible to visitors.
The Grianan Ringfort d’Aileach is located near the town of Burt, in the county of Donegal. Easy to access, the fort is impossible to miss: it is situated on a high hill in the area, and has a height that makes it easily visible.
The fort is open to the public, and you can easily walk around the fort, as well as into the compound via a long corridor covered by a series of stone slabs. The walls are over 2 metres high and 3 to 4.6 metres wide. The interior consists of a succession of small terraces connected by stairs at the entrance to the fort. The interior diameters of the fort are 23.6 metres along the north-south axis, and 23.2 metres along the east-west axis.
In other words, the site is rather imposing!
Opening time: everyday
Duration time: 30 minutes
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