Advertisement
Boards are fundraising to help the people of Ukraine via the Red Cross at this horrific time. Please donate and share if you can, you will find the link here. Many thanks.

Fairy rings

1235

Comments

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,469 ✭✭✭ cdgalwegian


    The Cillín then is a different story altogether, the main one around here is miles away from any fort and is located on a small hill that is on relatively flat land. They are said to be the burial ground of unbaptised babies as someone else mentioned. There are a few other smaller Cillín's within a 10 mile radius from what I have been told by elderly friends. None of them show any indication of what they are. The history is just passed down from generation to generation.


    Maybe I'm misremembering, but I thought it was fairy rings (not ringforts) where unbaptised babies were buried. Is it that Cillíns are not worn away fairy forts (generally), or are they unconnected, or is it just not known? Iows, were unbaptised babies only buried in these Cillín, which are not worn away fairy rings?
    Castlekeeper's post says: "A cill would have had a spiritual background whole a lios would have been a habitation.", seeming to indicate it's related to fairy rings, whereas lios (as in lisheen) would not.

    There's definitely a lot of confusion in knowledge of what is what between different people, so it's hard to disentangle historical fact from folklore.







  • Registered Users Posts: 1,469 ✭✭✭ cdgalwegian


    To confuse matters even further:

    Wikipedia
    Cillín

    A cillín (from the Irish language, with the literal meaning "little cell", "little churchyard" or "little burial ground"; plural cillíní), was a historical unconsecrated burial place in Ireland for children unbaptised at the time of death. Suicides, shipwrecked sailors, strangers, urepentant murderers and their victims were also sometimes buried there—they were used for "infants and other ambiguous categories of individual". Some of them are more than a thousand years old. Ancient pagan burial practices were sometimes later co-opted by Christianity.

    The word cillín is a common element in Irish place names, often anglicised as Killeen. An alternative meaning of cillín indicates a small church, from the diminutive form of , meaning church. The word is thought to come from the , meaning little church or oratory. Another meaning for the word cillín is "cell" as in prison cell or monastic cell (many placenames are derived from the cell of a local monk/saint).

    Sometimes these graveyards were called lisín, a diminutive form of the Irish term lios for a ringfort. Also lisín leanbh as a variant form.


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,086 ✭✭✭ Figerty


    To confuse matters even further:

    Wikipedia
    Cillín

    A cillín (from the Irish language, with the literal meaning "little cell", "little churchyard" or "little burial ground"; plural cillíní), was a historical unconsecrated burial place in Ireland for children unbaptised at the time of death. Suicides, shipwrecked sailors, strangers, urepentant murderers and their victims were also sometimes buried there—they were used for "infants and other ambiguous categories of individual". Some of them are more than a thousand years old. Ancient pagan burial practices were sometimes later co-opted by Christianity.

    The word cillín is a common element in Irish place names, often anglicised as Killeen. An alternative meaning of cillín indicates a small church, from the diminutive form of , meaning church. The word is thought to come from the , meaning little church or oratory. Another meaning for the word cillín is "cell" as in prison cell or monastic cell (many placenames are derived from the cell of a local monk/saint).

    Sometimes these graveyards were called lisín, a diminutive form of the Irish term lios for a ringfort. Also lisín leanbh as a variant form.

    A Cillin was always thought of as an old graveyard for children. Probably pre dating Christianity.

    Fairy forts are different, they were dwelling areas, setup to defend stock or other supplies. Some had holes dug into earth to serve as a natural fridge.


  • Moderators, Social & Fun Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 24,810 Mod ✭✭✭✭ looksee


    I have what I have been officially told is a Norman look out point (highest point around). Otherwise it looks like a fairy ring. I am not superstitious or religious but I do find myself very reluctant to walk across it; I can stand on the rim but walking into it - no, preferably not.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,469 ✭✭✭ cdgalwegian


    Figerty wrote: »
    A Cillin was always thought of as an old graveyard for children. Probably pre dating Christianity.

    Fairy forts are different, they were dwelling areas, setup to defend stock or other supplies. Some had holes dug into earth to serve as a natural fridge.
    I think I'm beginning to see where the confusion lies, between:
    fairy rings
    fairy forts
    ring forts
    I think the term fairy fort is the culprit. If BarryD2's pared-down description is used, fairy rings are naturally occurring phenomena, and ring forts are man-made fortifications. It's looking like a historical/folklore mishmash, and the term fairy forts is surplus to requirements.
    In many cases though, worn down fairy forts can look like worn down ringforts, which are also, apparently, known as lisheens (singular, lios); from above- "Sometimes these graveyards were called lisín, a diminutive form of the Irish term lios for a ringfort."
    The lisheen around the corner from me most definitely not an old ringfort. in fact, I just had a brainwave and checked mikeymouse's map in post #18, and the plaque that describes the lisheen is described on the map as a cillin!
    So if we forget the mishmash term of fairy fort for a second, things (I think) look a little clearer: it seems there were only fairy rings and ring forts, in prechristian times, and it looks like after Christianity, unbaptised babies, not being allowed to be buried in unconsecrated ground, were buried in what were closest to that in superstitious minds; that other realm of the supernatural- fairy rings. Small worn down ring forts look a lot like worn down fairy rings, and over time were mistaken as such. Hence, the rise of the mishmash term fairy fort (which is wrong and unhelpful), and also the confusion between a cillin and a lisheen.

    Where's the Time Team when you need them?:)




  • Advertisement
  • Moderators, Social & Fun Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 24,810 Mod ✭✭✭✭ looksee


    The official map quoted above gets round all these issues by describing anything that is not absolutely clear as an 'enclosure'. That is what mine is listed as.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,469 ✭✭✭ cdgalwegian


    looksee wrote: »
    The official map quoted above gets round all these issues by describing anything that is not absolutely clear as an 'enclosure'. That is what mine is listed as.
    Well, I suppose being non-committal means one can't be blamed for being wrong. I'd say it's hard to commit to a definitive description without clear evidence.

    I dig a little more digging (boom) into the fairy fort term:


    Ringfort
    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


    Legends and folklore concerning ringforts
    The materials used to construct ringforts frequently disintegrated over time. Tradition associated their circular remains with fairies and leprechauns, and they were called fairy forts".


    I think I was on the right track; worn-away ringforts had been mistaken for fairy rings, or there was uncertainty, so the two structures were amalgamated into a portmonteau of sorts- fairy forts, being the mishmash result.

    I'm no archeologist, but it seems to make sense.












  • Registered Users Posts: 9,317 ✭✭✭ patsy_mccabe


    A Ring Fort or Fairy Fort are the same thing. A Cillín is a small unconsecrated graveyard where the 'unclean', as it were, were buried.
    There is a Ringfort on our Land and a Cillín right across the road from us, where my granfather was born and raised.
    I always knew the Cillín was there, but recently when I was down in the area, I asked my cousin where exactly it was. He pointed to a mound of earth behind a shed. "Sure, he won't even let us drive on it or park any machinery there". referring to his Grandfather who is well into his 80's.
    Crazy to think he is showing more respect than our so called clergy did at the time, to all those young unbaptised children, unmarried mothers, sailors etc who are buried there.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 20,633 ✭✭✭✭ Buford T. Justice XIX


    Figerty wrote: »
    A Cillin was always thought of as an old graveyard for children. Probably pre dating Christianity.

    Fairy forts are different, they were dwelling areas, setup to defend stock or other supplies. Some had holes dug into earth to serve as a natural fridge.

    I think people today forget the different situation that was around in olden days. My father used always bring the ewes into an old ring fort by night to protect them from foxes and that was what was always done here.

    Stock out by night could have been attacked by dogs, foxes, wolves or stolen by the two legged versions of those in olden times so it made sense to provide a secure place to keep them safe at night.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,469 ✭✭✭ cdgalwegian


    A Ring Fort or Fairy Fort are the same thing.
    I don't think so. I think this is where there is a misconception. As far as I can make out, as in my previous post, a fairy fort is a fuzzy description of what could either be a fairy ring or a ringfort, where its true origin is indiscernible. It's a fusing together of two different structures in peoples minds, based on uncertainty.




  • Advertisement
  • Registered Users Posts: 6,699 ✭✭✭ Rows Grower


    I think people today forget the different situation that was around in olden days. My father used always bring the ewes into an old ring fort by night to protect them from foxes and that was what was always done here.

    Stock out by night could have been attacked by dogs, foxes, wolves or stolen by the two legged versions of those in olden times so it made sense to provide a secure place to keep them safe at night.

    Funnily enough a lot of ring forts now house fox dens.

    "Very soon we are going to Mars. You wouldn't have been going to Mars if my opponent won, that I can tell you. You wouldn't even be thinking about it."

    Donald Trump, March 13th 2018.



  • Registered Users Posts: 220 ✭✭ mlem123


    To clarify, I studied archaeology for my BA and MA and have done a lot of research regarding ring forts or faery forts. We have something like over 40,000 in this country of varying size.

    Firstly - they essentially are the same thing. Cillíns are different.

    Ring forts were used from the iron age into early medieval times for a whole array of activities. The vikings around 1000AD is what saw them coming out of use. Raths (another name for them) often had a singular use ie. for living, workshops, burial etc

    They are even mentioned in the life of St Patrick where he says the pagan Ferta was turned into a Relig after being consecrated (but before church burials were common.

    I like the whole idea of a faerie fort and glad that the superstition kept them safe :P Feel free to ask me whatever you want


  • Registered Users Posts: 8,265 ✭✭✭ Say my name


    mlem123 wrote: »
    To clarify, I studied archaeology for my BA and MA and have done a lot of research regarding ring forts or faery forts. We have something like over 40,000 in this country of varying size.

    Firstly - they essentially are the same thing. Cillíns are different.

    Ring forts were used from the iron age into early medieval times for a whole array of activities. The vikings around 1000AD is what saw them coming out of use. Raths (another name for them) often had a singular use ie. for living, workshops, burial etc

    They are even mentioned in the life of St Patrick where he says the pagan Ferta was turned into a Relig after being consecrated (but before church burials were common.

    I like the whole idea of a faerie fort and glad that the superstition kept them safe :P Feel free to ask me whatever you want

    Does the suggestion that raths (as they were called around here) were a consequence of plagues in this country and were built to protect themselves from plague carriers, hold any water so to speak?


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,469 ✭✭✭ cdgalwegian


    mlem123 wrote: »
    Firstly - they essentially are the same thing. Cillíns are different.
    Hi. Can you expand on your above though; it needs a bit of clarifying.
    Thanks.






  • Registered Users Posts: 220 ✭✭ mlem123


    Does the suggestion that raths (as they were called around here) were a consequence of plagues in this country and were built to protect themselves from plague carriers, hold any water so to speak?

    The names would have definitely had regional variances!

    They could have been used for mass graves in times of outbreaks such as plague, TB, famine etc but it's unlikely they would have been built specifically for that as they took time and a large about of resources (labour etc) whereas typical mass graves are usually more hurried.

    Saying that, older ones could've been used by later communities as a handy already there grave site


  • Registered Users Posts: 220 ✭✭ mlem123


    Hi. Can you expand on your above though; it needs a bit of clarifying.
    Thanks.





    Ringforts were around long before Christianity. The association with unbaptised children not being buried on consecrated ground would have been a later practice.

    When Christianity initially came to Ireland you would have been buried on a family site - only clergy would have been buried in churchyards as they were seen as the churches family.

    Also, in my opinion, the reuse of structures came into play so when these rules were enforced they would have used the raths as Cillíns, but not all Cillíns are in these structures, some were just next to the boundaries of churchyards


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,469 ✭✭✭ cdgalwegian


    mlem123 wrote: »
    Ringforts were around long before Christianity. The association with unbaptised children not being buried on consecrated ground would have been a later practice.

    When Christianity initially came to Ireland you would have been buried on a family site - only clergy would have been buried in churchyards as they were seen as the churches family.

    Also, in my opinion, the reuse of structures came into play so when these rules were enforced they would have used the raths as Cillíns, but not all Cillíns are in these structures, some were just next to the boundaries of churchyards
    That seems to be in line what I have said.

    Fairy rings, on the other hand, are biologically based/naturally occurring structures, which, afaik, have also been used as (unconsecrated) burial grounds, or is this wrong?








  • Registered Users Posts: 8,265 ✭✭✭ Say my name


    mlem123 wrote: »
    The names would have definitely had regional variances!

    They could have been used for mass graves in times of outbreaks such as plague, TB, famine etc but it's unlikely they would have been built specifically for that as they took time and a large about of resources (labour etc) whereas typical mass graves are usually more hurried.

    Saying that, older ones could've been used by later communities as a handy already there grave site

    No sorry i meant were the raths built with the ditch and double ditches as a defensive structure to keep wandering plague carriers away from the householders?
    Have you heard of that hypotheses before?

    I'd say the majority of people dying from plague just were left where they fell in those times.


  • Registered Users Posts: 8,265 ✭✭✭ Say my name


    Here's a Wikipedia page on the plague of Mohill.

    It seems there was a notable increase in rath building after the plague reached the area.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plague_of_Mohill


  • Registered Users Posts: 9,317 ✭✭✭ patsy_mccabe


    mlem123 wrote: »
    To clarify, I studied archaeology for my BA and MA and have done a lot of research regarding ring forts or faery forts. We have something like over 40,000 in this country of varying size.

    Firstly - they essentially are the same thing. Cillíns are different.

    Ring forts were used from the iron age into early medieval times for a whole array of activities. The vikings around 1000AD is what saw them coming out of use. Raths (another name for them) often had a singular use ie. for living, workshops, burial etc

    They are even mentioned in the life of St Patrick where he says the pagan Ferta was turned into a Relig after being consecrated (but before church burials were common.

    I like the whole idea of a faerie fort and glad that the superstition kept them safe :P Feel free to ask me whatever you want

    What % of that 40,000 would have had tunnels running from them. There is a very obvious dip in the land running from ours. It runs almost level at the top of a hill, so is not as a result of flowing water etc. It could be the effects of ploughing though. A sod or two turned different directions from the same line.


  • Advertisement
  • Registered Users Posts: 220 ✭✭ mlem123


    That seems to be in line what I have said.

    Fairy rings, on the other hand, are biologically based/naturally occurring structures, which, afaik, have also been used as (unconsecrated) burial grounds, or is this wrong?




    I wouldn't say you were wrong, but for the most part I'd say most if not all are man made creations, but because they've been reclaimed by nature they look like a natural part of the landscape

    No sorry i meant were the raths built with the ditch and double ditches as a defensive structure to keep wandering plague carriers away from the householders?
    Have you heard of that hypotheses before?

    I'd say the majority of people dying from plague just were left where they fell in those times.

    Apologies for the mix up! I read it wrong lol

    Well, they weren't defensive like a castle etc but I think it was like creating a boundary with the homestead and the rest of the world. But yes it would have kept people out who they didn't want in but also protecting animals etc
    What % of that 40,000 would have had tunnels running from them. There is a very obvious dip in the land running from ours. It runs almost level at the top of a hill, so is not as a result of flowing water etc. It could be the effects of ploughing though. A sod or two turned different directions from the same line.

    I never thought of that but also never seen it come up inthe literature. Depending on the use of that particular fort it could have been used as an underground storage for grains etc.

    The only tunnelling I've read about is from animals using them as dens so it's possible.


  • Registered Users Posts: 9,317 ✭✭✭ patsy_mccabe


    This tunnel, if it's there, wasn't dug by animals. That's for sure.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,469 ✭✭✭ cdgalwegian


    mlem123 wrote: »
    I wouldn't say you were wrong, but for the most part I'd say most if not all are man made creations, but because they've been reclaimed by nature they look like a natural part of the landscape.
    Sorry, you've lost me there. Fairy rings are the small circular mounds, due to mushroom growth, often with hawthorns growing in them, and are therefore natural not man-made creations, and can't be "reclaimed by nature to look like a natural part of the landscape", as they already are a natural part of it. So I'm not sure what you are referring to, as I previously had said that rundown ringforts can also look like part of the natural landscape- just like many fairy forts.

    I hope I'm not coming across as defensive: I just don't understand what you're actually referring to.:)







  • Registered Users Posts: 581 ✭✭✭ tibruit


    This tunnel, if it's there, wasn't dug by animals. That's for sure.

    It sounds like you've got yourself a souteraine that has collapsed in on itself. They are underground tunnels that are quite common in ringforts. A neighbour of mine uncovered one while ploughing a few years ago that caused a bit of a stir at the time although the memory of a fort was lost, there must have been one there. They seem to have been used to store food but I'd say they were also used as a retreat for the family during stormy weather.


  • Registered Users Posts: 220 ✭✭ mlem123


    Sorry, you've lost me there. Fairy rings are the small circular mounds, due to mushroom growth, often with hawthorns growing in them, and are therefore natural not man-made creations, and can't be "reclaimed by nature to look like a natural part of the landscape", as they already are a natural part of it. So I'm not sure what you are referring to, as I previously had said that rundown ringforts can also look like part of the natural landscape- just like many fairy forts.

    I hope I'm not coming across as defensive: I just don't understand what you're actually referring to.:)






    No you're fine, might be misunderstanding on both sides haha

    Honestly, I don't know enough about Faery Forts to make great assertions, but I can picture what you mean by the rings! They just tend to be rings of mushrooms, right?

    Those don't tend to be the large mounds with banks and ditches - my studies specialised in burial in early Chritianity (hence why these enclosures came up so much) but these are structures that are >1000 years old

    A good example of how they look today which people often describe as Faery forts

    https://images.app.goo.gl/LJbu3ciMGgtmWzYh9


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,469 ✭✭✭ cdgalwegian


    mlem123 wrote: »
    No you're fine, might be misunderstanding on both sides haha

    Honestly, I don't know enough about Faery Forts to make great assertions, but I can picture what you mean by the rings! They just tend to be rings of mushrooms, right?

    Those don't tend to be the large mounds with banks and ditches - my studies specialised in burial in early Chritianity (hence why these enclosures came up so much) but these are structures that are >1000 years old

    A good example of how they look today which people often describe as Faery forts

    https://images.app.goo.gl/LJbu3ciMGgtmWzYh9


    Yeah, I think I'm trying to get my head around the equating of the archeological term of ringfort, with the folklore notion of fairy fort- as opposed to the natural formation of the fairy rings. The picture shows what could be viewed as a ringfort, or as a fairy ring- but which in this case looks more like a ringfort to me (something which could be differentiated by both a horticulturalist and an archeologist). It seems, from reading sources, that ringforts came to be called fairy forts by many people with a supernatural bent, and onwards by custom, so that they are equatable. It seems also that the term has been co-opted by archeologists into their official lexicon, and is equatable for this reason (can this be confirmed?).
    Beyond this, I wonder/theorize though, if what are called many fairy forts- and assumed to be ring forts- are in fact fairy rings. A rundown single-circle ringfort can look very much like an ancient fairy ring.







  • Registered Users Posts: 8,265 ✭✭✭ Say my name


    What's a circular growth of fungi in a suburban lawn called?


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,469 ✭✭✭ cdgalwegian


    Go on...


  • Registered Users Posts: 8,265 ✭✭✭ Say my name


    A fairy ring.


  • Advertisement
  • Registered Users Posts: 1,469 ✭✭✭ cdgalwegian


    That was my first thought, but then thought it was too obvious!


Advertisement