Kilcashel Stone Fort

Kilcashel Stone Fort, Co. Mayo

Kilcashel is taken from the Anglicized version of the Irish Coill na Chaisil that meant ‘wood of the stone fort.’  The most significant discoveries were the three stone forts or cashels that lay upon a sandstone ridge, just above the 100m contour line.  Two have been destroyed but the remaining Stone Fort is a National Monument.  It measured thirty metres in diameter.  It consisted of a single circular wall that was five metres  in thickness plus three metres in height.  Within the Fort were two creep – ways in a circular wall of the fort that led to an internal wall – chamber.  There was a formal entranceway with a lintel stone, four sets of V –shaped steps set into the stone.  On this site also were a wall terracing, souterrain plus two collapsed houses. There are several interesting features at Kilcashel area: An undated Enclosure, destroyed during twentiethcentury, a Bronze Age Fulacha Fiadh, a Bullaun Stone, two early Medieval Souterrains, three early Medieval Cashels plus two early Medieval house sites.  There are nine Archaeological sites located within a 1 km radius of Kilcashel also a further forty sites within a 2m radius.  The Kilcashel Landscape Project identified several other archaeological features.  The entrance to Kilcashel Fort was located to the east.  The Cashel was too small to function as a Royal Site but may indeed have predated the seventh century Crill Gabhlach Law Tracts.  It provided protection from winds for the inhabitants.  The entrance consisted of a Trillian doorway with double lintels.  The two hilltop Cashels were linked by a cave through a six hundred & twenty metres long tunnel.  This site has images by Author / Lecturer Dr. James Bonsall. [i]

This site has a PDF to download or one may read article on page.  Known as Coill an Chaisel, ‘wood of the stone fort’ (OS Field Map Books 1837 )  Within 15 km of Kilcashel there are two hundred & nine known archaeological sites.  The Cashels were founded as residences or farmsteads possibly dated 500 – 21000 AD.  They were a circular or oval area surrounded by stones.  The main Stone Fort was 31 m in diameter, 2.74 m in height plus 3,65 – 3.39 m in thickness according to Westropp in his publication ‘Ancient Forts of Ireland 1803.  Westropp described from an unnamed source that ‘a passage high enough for a man to stand in is now inaccessible under the Cashel for 26 feet.’  A survey & excavations during 1999 by Martin Fitzpatrick identified a loose layer of stones plus a paving layer for circa six metres with  a chamber roofed by lintels.  The OPW Field Notes suggested that the Cashel was c. 2 m in height & c 80 wide, it extended for c 6 m.  There are several maps & images by Archaeologist Dr. James Bonsall on the site. [ii]

Geophysical Survey by use of ERT survey was carried out on the top of an underground chamber at the Stone Fort known as a souterrain that was located aligned West to East.  Three of the four ‘V ’ shaped steps in the wall of the fort were proven by the survey to align to the cardinal points of the compass at North, East & South.  The fourth step was ‘offline .’  It was intended to carry out further surveys during 2010. [iii]

Kilcashel Stone Fort is a National Monument & double court cairn located in Co. Mayo.  It was 8oo m southeast of Kilmovee.  Kilcashel was possibly constructed circa 2,500 – 500 BC.   It was thirty metres in diameter, three metres in height plus five metres in thickness.  On the site there was a souterrain also a bullaun stone. Coordinates are: 535300.4N, 84 048.7W. [iv]

There is a large Ringfort called Kilcashel located within the townland of same name or Coíll an Cashail; ‘the wood of the stone fort.’  It measured thirty metres in diameter.  The fort consisted of a single circular wall that was five metres in thickness also three metres in height.  One entered the fort through a formal lintel entrance.  The interior combined the ruins of two-house sites plus a souterrain.  One accessed the top of the walls from the interion via four sets of a ‘V ’ – shaped stone steps.  There was a creep – way that linked the two internal wall – chambers within the fort’ walls.  The wall chamber appeared to align with the rising sun. [v]

On this National Monument site are remains of two stone houses.  There were two wall chambers: one at west – northwest the other northwest.  A seven metre long passageway joined both chambers.  The top of the Ringfort was accessed via four sets of stone steps of an inner wall.  The inner diameter of the Ringfort was 28 metres with the total diameter of 36 metres.  The Cashel was accessed through a lintelled doorway on the East – Southeast side.  The entrance to the walls were 4.20 m in thickness.  This sitefeatures several images of the Cashel. [vi]

Kilcashel / Caiseal is a circular stone fort with its name the Anglicized version of the Irish ‘wood of the stone fort.’  It is situated outside Ballhadeereen town in the Kilmovee village.  It is dated from the Early Medieval period.  The Fort was thirty metres in diameter, the wall five metres in thickness also three metres in height.  The monument was believed to have been erected for cultural reasons due to the two chambers within its walls.  It also portrayed a perfect alignment with the sunrise.  The first Solar event occurred prior to Halloween with the second event in February when the chamber is lit up for three days.  Jon Grainger studied the chambers; both were accessed by V – shaped steps built within the Cashel walls of the National Monument.  There are remains of two-house sites also a souterrain within the complex.  Archaeological work was undertaken during 2009. [vii]

An article in the Connaught Telegraph 27th June 2020 under the title ‘Mayo Gems.’ described Kilcashel Stone Fort, half a mile southwest of Kilmovee was described by Archaeologists as ‘exceptional.’  The name of the Townland was Coill an Chaisel or ‘wood of the stone fort.’  Included in the Archaeological site were Bronge Age Fuladha Fia, early Medieval Cashels, an undated enclosure that was destroyed during the twentieth century, two early Medieval souterrains, a bullaun stone, also two-house sites.  This National Monument is thirty metres in diameter.  The construction consisted of a single circular wall that was five metres thick & three metres in height. Inside the stone fort were two creep – ways.  The circular wall of the fort led to an internal wall – chamber; with a formal entranceway that had a lintel stone.  There were four sets of V – shaped steps set into the wall with a terraced wall also a souterrain plus two collapsed house sites.  Several features were discovered from the study of early maps by the Kilcashel Landscape Project that showed the significant changes from mid – 19th century. (Tom Gillepsie[viii]

An excavation undertaken by Dúchas on Kilcashel Stone Fort walls & interior of monument discovered a trench 5.4m in length, 1.25 – 1.3 m in width.  The removal of sods & topsoil revealed a loose layer of stone that formed the passage surface.  A spud stone at the east end indicated a gateway or doorway.  The paving layer of the passageway was made up of large flat stones in the centre whilst smaller round ones were at the sides.  Below the paving layer excavations revealed the original earthen surface layer of the passage.  Two post – holes at the site indicated a possible door / gate at east end with activity at the west that suggested perhaps the presence of two large pit features. [ix]

This Fort is located 800 metres southeast of Kilmovee.  Erected during 2,500 – 500 B C.  It was thirty metres in diameter, with three metres in height also five metres in thickness.  The site ‘s elevation was ninty – five metres.  Coordinates are 53.883434N, 8.680186W. [x]


Drone footage of Kilcashel Stone Fort by Lorraine Campbell of Kilmovee Community Centre may be viewed at this link:

Christiaan Corlett has a spectacular photo of Kilcashel Stone fort at this link:

This Cashel is mentioned in the ‘Ordnance Survey Letters Mayo’  Herity M. (ed ) 2009 Fourmasters Presson this site plus further information in these publications: ‘Cill Mobhí, a handbook on local history & folklore’ (no date ) Mac Gabhann, ‘Corpus Inscriptionum Insularum Celticarum’  Macalister R. A. 1945, Vol 1 Dublin Stationary Office. [xi]

This Stone Fort is mentioned on this site:

This link will provide excellent views of Kilcashel Stone Fort:


[i] History & Archaeology ( [Assessed 24th January 2021]

[ii] PDF ( [Assessed 24th January 2021]

[iii] Kilcashel to date ( [Assessed 24th January 2021]

[iv] Kilcashel Stone Fort ( [Assessed 24th January 2021]

[v] A Day Trip ( [Assessed 24th January 2021]

[vi] Kilcashel ( [Assessed 24th January 2021]

[vii] Kilcashel ( [assessed 22nd January 2021]

[viii] Mayo Gems ( [Assessed 24th January 2021]

[ix] 4563 ( [Assessed 22nd January 2021]

[x] Kilcashel Stone Fort ( [Assessed 24th January 2021]

[xi] A Day Trip ( [Assessed 24th January 2021]


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