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near Sneem, County Kerry, Ireland
Staigue Fort is surrounded by hills which open out onto the coast at the south side. It is located on the Iveragh peninsula, 3 miles west of Sneem in the south west of Ireland.
The site is considered the largest stone ring fort in Ireland and also one of the finest, now in a partially ruined state. It was built without mortar from local stone with the outer ring wall being 90 feet in diameter. On the north and west sides of the fort the wall rises to 18 feet in height and goes from 13 feet thick at the bottom to 7 feet thick at the top. The wall on the north side is still in almost perfect condition with its coping stones still in place.
Entry to the inside of the fort is via a small passage roofed with huge lintels and inside there are two oval waterproof chambers with corbelled roofs. The ramparts are accessed by a number of x shaped steps running inside the walls.
The fort was originally protected all the way around by a ditch and high bank which is still very evident today but only to the north of the site.
Staigue Fort has its own exhibition centre which is open from Easter until the end of September between 10am and 9pm daily. The centre has a video presentation on Irish folklore along with information on how the fort was built and some theories of its inhabitants. The centre also offers basic accommodation for travelers.
It is thought the fort was built as a defensive stronghold for a King or local Lord. There are many differing opinions as to when the fort was built, the earliest being the 1st century BC and the latest between 300 and 400 AD during the late Iron Age.
The Danes, the Phoenicians and the Arch Druids were also responsible for restoring the fort during the 19th century when they were resident at different times. One of the local stories is that very small people inhabited the fort whilst searching for Ore; this is confirmed by evidence of copper mining along with an observatory and a place of worship on the site as well as the defensive structure.
Other Castles in the Area
Ballinskelligs Castle, County Kerry
Ballycarbery Castle, County Kerry
Dunboy Castle ruins, County Cork