Hillforts at Baltinglass, Co Wicklow

Brusselstown Hillfort

With nine recorded examples, Baltinglass is the only area in Ireland with more than two Hillforts, justifing it’s reputation as Ireland’s Hillfort capital. Baltinglass is at the centre of a huge complex of nine Hillforts. These Hillforts may be tentatively dated to around 1,000 BC or slightly earlier. They were not made by the Neolithic people, but by a later metal-using people.

Rathcoran Hillfort and Cairn

There are currently two lines of thought to explain the remarkable concentration of these sites. One is that they are not contemporary and that the cluster as a whole is a result of different generation of the same community moving their tribal centre from hilltop to hilltop over time.

The second theory interprets the Hillforts as broadly contemporary defensive structures built by opposing polities, the monuments acting as rival works of competition.

Radiocarbon dating has confirmed that not all of the Hillforts are contemporary, with Hillfort construction continuing from the end of the middle Bronze age to the end of the Late Bronze age. Evidence of enclosures from the early Neolithic age show that Baltinglass was an important landscape throughout the prehistoric era.

(Tom Condit. Archaeology Ireland Vol. 6, No. 3 (Autumn, 1992), pp. 16-20)


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