Blog 2

7 Oct

While I enjoyed the trip to Galway, my favorite part was certainly visiting Inis Mor. The highlight of Inis Mór was Dún Aonghasa (Anglicized Dun Aengus), a fort from the Iron Age (Cotter, Claire. “Atlantic Fortifications: The Duns of the Aran Islands.” Archaeology Ireland, Vol. 8, No. 1: Spring 1994. 24-28. Web.). The fort was built on the edge of a cliff with rings of protective walls to hinder enemy attacks. The outermost ring is called chevaux de frise, which journalist Claire Cotter defines as “upright pillars of stone set at close intervals as a defensive obstacle” (Cotter 25). Due to these protectionary measures and due to its historical period, we can deduce that there was a lot of warfare at the time. Indeed, in class we learned that Ireland was divided into different tribes or clans in the Iron Age, and that the different groups would war against each other for power. We can assume that this fort in particular was effective, since its location would prove difficult for invaders!

I myself was struck especially by the cliff side. The cool sea air was incredibly refreshing, but the wind was also incredibly strong. The cliffs would have been a great defensive mechanism, but the location near the sea would also have been a great resource for fish and trade; so the fort itself was an ingenious plan. The very rocky landscape would also have been quite useful for providing the rocks to build the walls of the fort and defenses. In fact, a guide actually said that settlers would spend their entire lives digging up stone and moving it to build stone fences and walls. The settlers needed to dig up the stone to build the walls, but they also needed to remove the stones from the ground in order to plant and harvest, to make fields and provide for themselves and for flocks in ways that the original rocky ground could not. I find it very fascinating that these early people were able to solve problems in these ways, and that they built a fort and society that endures even until today.
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