Exploring Waterford's Ancient Monuments

The Araglin Valley

 

Area with the highest concentration of Prehistoric monuments in Waterford

 

 

 

Nestling on the western side of the Comeragh mountains, the Araglin Valley is a settlement and ritual complex dating to the Early Bronze Age.

The area, which is of national and international importance, contains a vast number of archaeological antiquities that includes Cairns, Enclosures, a Barrow, Kerb Circles, Field Systems, Standing Stones, Hut Sites, Booley Huts and Fulacht Fiadh.

The quiet picturesque valley which is not far from the village of Kilbrien, is a beautiful place to visit whether you are in search of prehistoric monuments or just out to enjoy the natural beauty of the area. From the floor of the valley the land makes a gentle rise upwards to Fearbreaga mountain. Visible above is the distinctive saddle of the Bearna na Madra Gap while the Cairn topped summit of Seefin looms high above to the North.

Seeking out the monuments that survive in the valley can be a bit of a challenge though and requires a keen eye. The best time to come here is in March when the Bracken is at its lowest, just before it begins to unfurl again in April.

What makes it difficult is that most of the archaeological remains are quite low profile and in summer they become almost totally engulfed by the dense growth of bracken on the hillsides. Even the standing stones in the valley are quite small when compared to others found in Waterford , the exception being the road side stone near a parking area which is 1.6 metres tall.

 

Just how many people once lived in this scenic valley is difficult to say but the archaeological remains would suggest that there was once a sizeable population. Though the area is sheltered from the North and East it is quite exposed to the West and to say the least can be quite a cold place in the middle of Winter with biting winds can numb the face and hands as you climb the higher slopes in the valley.

This prompts the question, why would a people have chosen this bleak open place in which to live. The reason may be, that it is now generally thought that Ireland’s climate in Prehistoric times was a few degrees warmer than it is now, so Araglin may have been a more favourable place to settle back then. One also cannot discount the possibility that this valley may have been forested at the time of these people. If so, this would provide ample shelter for the populace who most likely survived by hunting animals and birds, and perhaps resided in the sheltered clearance areas of the forest.

However, there is little clues left behind about the lives of these people. What remains are discreet reminders of a distant past that leaves us to ponder on how a settlement of people once lived and survived here.

The Araglin Valley is indeed a treasure trove of antiquities. With the highest concentration of archaeological remains in the county, this unique region is an important part of Waterford’s prehistoric past.

 

 

Kerb Circle

 

 

Standing Stone along the way into valley

 

 


Article first published March 2012

 

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