Rings of Earth and Stone - Early Medieval Louth: Balriggan, Faughart Lower, Newtownbalregan

Balriggan, Faughart Lower, Newtownbalregan

As with any investigation, the differences and inconsistencies in the trail of evidence reveal much about the individuals involved. Again, this principle is apparent in the archaeology discovered during the M1 excavations. Three sites provides a wealth of information about this period.


Balriggan was a very important site. It sits at the sheltered base of a wide basin and used ditches and pockets of bog as defence. Very little of the surrounding landscape can be seen from this site and its eyes and ears were on top of adjacent Fort Hill and nearby Carn More ringfort. Balriggan had a cemetery where approximately 50 people were buried, an iron-ore processing area and several animal pens. The buildings have left no trace. Balriggan must have benefited from extensive trade since it lay on the Great North Road that linked much of Ireland's east coast. It is likely that Balriggan, with its droveway, animal enclosures and watering places, was a key point on the cattle trading network.

ASI: How was iron worked at Balriggan?
Lumps of iron ore naturally form in bogs, as seen through the reddish (iron) colour of bog-water. The lumps of ore are collected and melted with charcoal in special kilns. This separates the ore into iron and slag. The iron is then worked into tools.


  • Balriggan 1 (coming soon)