[Stone hut, Ballyheabought]

Two views of a stone hut or clochán in Ballyheabought, north of Dingle, referred to in the text as Ballyheigh. Above, a profile view, showing the collapsed roof and the entrance, labelled 'a'. Below, a plan view showing the entrance, labelled 'a' and a souterrain, labelled 'B', leading from inside the hut to the exterior.

Image Details

Genre Scientific or Technical illustration
Technique Wood engravings
Subject(s) Antiquities and archaeological sites
Geographical Location
  • Ballyheabought - Townland - Spelled Ballyheigh in Chatteron's Rambles (1839)
  • Kerry - County
  • Munster - Province
Keywords(s) Antiquities, Archaeological sites, Buildings, Souterrains
Colour Monochrome
Published / created 1839

Bibliographical Details

Travel Account Rambles in the South of Ireland
Note Among the numerous stone huts found in the vicinity, some are believed to have souterrains.The Archaeological Survey of Ireland notes that the one described at length by Chatterton may possibly be site no. KE043-081002-, but that there is no certainty of this.
Archaeological Survey of Ireland, at http://webgis.archaeology.ie/NationalMonuments/FlexViewer/, record no. .KE043-081002-.
Print or manuscript Print
Location of image in copy Vol. 1, p. 166
Source copy James Hardiman Library, National University of Ireland Galway Special Collections: 914.190481 CHA
Rights James Hardiman Library

Related text from travel account

Along a most jolting road, in a rough car, that gave us a sensation which one of my companions observed must be very similar to that of butter [p. 165] undergoing the operation of churning, we at last arrived at the scattered village of Ballyheigh. We were informed that Mr. MacKenna was the leading person of the place. To him therefore we lost no time in applying for information about an "old round building, with a hole in it," a vague account of which had induced us to visit Ballyheigh. Mac Kenna deputed a venerable old man to guide us to the object we enquired about—the "curious ould Danish work," as our conductor termed it, and who agreeably surprised us by the information that it was only a few yards off. But Irish yards we found to be like Irish miles, and possessed of the same elasticity and powers of elongation peculiar to themselves and India-rubber. "The old building, with a hole in it," however, was reached at last. In shape, this building is circular; it is constructed without mortar, and is about 16 feet in diameter in the inside. The remains of the wall are now about nine feet in height, and five feet thick: they incline inwards so as to induce a supposition that the building had a stone roof, like the cell we saw yesterday at Gollerus [Gallarus]. Its original entrance, now blocked up, faced the west; and directly opposite to it, [p. 166] is the entrance to a subterranean passage, which, tradition says, leads to a succession of small chambers, until it reaches beneath a circle of stones in a field more than a quarter of a mile off. The annexed wood cuts will give some idea of the building, and of the subterranean chambers beneath it.
[Images: Stone hut, elevation and ground plan]
[p. 167] For the following account of the subterranean chambers beneath the cell, I am indebted to the kindness of Mr. Johnson, of Dingle, by whom they were explored.
"On descending I found that the passage was nearly choked up with stones; removing them, I ascertained that the cave extended to the length of about 12 feet, terminating at one extremity in a narrow entrance about two feet high. This opened into an apartment, about nine feet long, four feet high, and five feet broad. At the other extremity of the main or outward cave, is a circular wall, from which ran, at a right angle, another cave, more resembling a passage, about six feet long. This likewise terminates in a circular wall, from which runs another passage at right angles with the latter, but parallel with the outward or main cave, and about eight feet long, terminating in what appeared to me to have been a second entrance, though now entirely closed.
"This circular building I have heard called by the country people Oween-na-fahadee. It is seventeen feet in diameter, and is surrounded by the ruins of some smaller ones. The subterranean chambers are built of small stones, [p. 168] without any mortar, simple but fair in their construction, and are covered with heavy lentiles. The entrance from the outward building to the subterranean passage is formed by one stone, laid across two perpendicular ones, and is about two feet and a half below the surface of the ground."
Near this circular cell, as stated by Mr. Johnson, are the remains of a small square building; and further down the side of the hill, are extensive remains, with a stone passage, without a roof to it, leading into a building, the stone roof of which has fallen in. We heard that on the rugged height, called the Commons of Dingle, there are many of these curious stone cells and circles, and our guide said that he had seen one on which the roof was still entire, and that it narrowed to a stone on the top, and had an entrance to the west, like the one we had visited, and another opposite passage, leading under-ground.
The old man seemed to look upon these ancient remains with great interest. He spoke much of the ruins of two mills, and induced us to scramble over several wet fields and high walls to see them. They are near the rocky [p. 169] bed of a winter mountain stream, but it required an antiquarian of no small imagination to suppose that the heaps of stones pointed out could ever have been mills: we found them, however, a most useful resting place, and, whilst we were recovering from our fatigue, our venerable old guide told us the following legend of Owen-na-fahadee—the circular building which we had just seen. [Vol. 1, p. 164-169]
[Followed by lengthy tale involving a dream, treasure and talking animals.]
Stone hut, Ballyheabought