The exposed limestone of the Aran Islands here transitions to a fertile field of grass, husbanded by generations of islanders. Photograph was taken from the path on Inishmore leading up to Dun Aonghasa.
The Aran Islands are an extension of The Burren of Ireland’s Counties Claire and Galway. The word burren is from the Irish Boireann, meaning “great rock.” The glaciers that covered Ireland, retreating about 10,000 years ago, scraped down to the bedrock, exposing wide areas of limestone and dropping, here and there, large rocks. When people came along the foreign nature of the large rocks was recognized, all the more obvious for lying on the horizontally bedded, exposed limestone. We call the foreign rocks erratics. The underlying scoured rock is a pavement for a resemblance to a cobbled roadway.
The incised line, filled with grass and wildflowers, in the following photograph is called a gryke. The body of stone between the grykes are clints. Sometimes, the grykes are cross hatched and the clints resemble cobblestones or flat paving stones.
The view is northeast toward the 12 Bens of Connemara. Inishmore, Aran Islands, County Galway, Ireland
Modern stonework borders the 1/2 mile path to the inner Dún Aonghasa walls, keeping tourists off delicate plants, maintaining the integrity of this ancient site.
The view north, northwest over the walled path to Dun Aonghasa (Dun Aengus) looking across karst landscape, walled fields, farms, the North Atlantic Ocean, coast of Connemara and the 12 Bens (12 Pins) mountains. Aran Islands, County Galway, Ireland.ng lintel) in the surrounding wall, to left of center in middle distance.
Another aspect of the gradual 1/2 mile inclined path to the central ring of the prehistoric Dun Aonghasa ruins of County Galway, Ireland.
The view north, northwest from this way to Dun Aonghasa (Dun Aengus). In early June, looking across wildflowers, karst landscape, walled fields, farms, the North Atlantic Ocean, coast of Connemara and the 12 Bens (12 Pins) mountains.
Note the doorway (with long lintel) in the surrounding wall, to left of center in middle distance.
A span of 10,000 years spreads between now and the first possibility of settlement on the island of Eire, then swept clean to bare rock by the weight of ice. Current scholarship of the Dún Aonghasa ruins place a settlement within the inner of the four dry stone rings after 6,500 years (1,500 BC or 3,500 years ago). By way of scale, the first settlement took 30 times the duration of the U.S. Constitution ratification through 2019 and 16 times from 1,500 BC until 2019 ( 6,500 / 219 = ~30 ; 3,500 / 219 = ~16. The last state, Rhode Island, ratified the Constitution 1789).
By 700 BC, 2,700 years ago, a series of upright, closely placed stones, were erected between the second and third rings called a cheval de fries field (“Frisian horses” in English) today, this defensive structure evokes the enormous scale of the struggles around this place of defense.
This is a portion of that field, I believe, taken as Pam and I approach the inner ring entrance, walking a wide path cleared of barriers. Click the photograph for a larger image with caption.