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KANE SOUTERRAIN


This fine souterrain has been constructed in a low hummock, the summit of which is also occupied by Kane graveyard. The site lies on the 100 ft. contour just to the north of a small stream. The surrounding rolling pastureland is dotted with numerous small, rounded glacial hillocks, many concealing rock-outcrops. The graveyard is rectangular in plan and is delimited by a sturdy curtain wall. The parish pound, now totally ruinous, adjoins the graveyard on the northeast beside the gate. About 40 gravestones are visible in the interior, the earliest dating to the 18th century. On the summit of the hummock itself are the ruins of a rectangular church. It measures 15 m. by 8 m. externally and its long axis runs east and west. Its northern sidewall has been incorporated into part of the curtain wall. Kane was a parish in the medieval period but has long since been incorporated into the parish of Faughart. There is no evidence for a pre-Norman ancestry for the church site [see also Louth O.S. Letters, 1929, 61 and topographical files of Nat. Mus. of Ireland].
The present entrance to the souterrain is in the pound, through the roof of the terminal chamber [fig. C; ch. 5; section F - F1]. This is in a collapsed state and is choked almost to the roof with earth. It appears to have been rectangular in shape and to have formed a T on plan with passage 4. An air-vent [av. 6; section A - A1] is visible in the sidewall opposite the doorway, running eastwards from the chamber. Passage 4 is 13 m. long. Its floor is obscured by fill at both ends. That at the western end has been accumulated by badgers who clear out their beds from a set on the north side of the passage. The passage enters chamber 2 through the upper part of its corbelled sidewalls, thus forming a peculiar step [st. 3; section A - A1]. This is defined on both sides by small, thin jambs set into the sidewalls [section D - D1]. From this spacious chamber, passage 1 runs westwards for 6.50 m. where it is blocked by a roof fall. At this point the passage is approx. 19 m. south of the centre of the church and about 3 m. below the surface.
The stonework of the souterrain is neat and well built. A variety of rock types is present, all available locally - shale, granite, limestone and sandstone. All the capstones of passage 1 are of granite. The sidewalls are constructed of small, mainly rounded stones averaging 0.30 m. in length by 0.15 m. in thickness. No grading in stone size is noticeable. Three capstones roof chamber 2, two of shale and a third of limestone. Up to 1.00 - 1.10 m. above floor level, the chamber sidewalls are of similar character to those of passage 1. However, the walls above that level are built with large flat-faced blocks averaging 0.50 m. long by 0.25 m. thick [section C - C1]. In passage 4 the character of the stonework is noticeably different. All the capstones are of shale, most with fresh surfaces. The sidewalls have a basal course of large flat-faced boulders up to 0.80 m. long by 0.40 m. thick [section E - E1]. Above these the sidewalls are composed of very small rounded stones averaging only 0.15 m. in length by 0.10 m. in thickness. The stonework of chamber 5 is obscured by fill. Its two remaining capstones are of shale. The interior of the souterrain is fairly dry though the sidewalls are damp and the roof does let in water. Here again this condition may be affected by the presence of trees in the graveyard itself.
The Louth O.S. Letters record that the souterrain was discovered in the early 19th century and state that there . . was a beautiful spring well . . .in the middle . . of it [1929, 61].

(Mark Clinton and Paul Gosling -Five Louth Souterrains)

  FAUGHART HISTORICAL SOCIETY, Shortstone, Hackballscross, Dundalk, IRELAND. Phone : Willie Treacy, 'phone 042 937 7110 E-mail: faugharthistsoc@eircom.net
 
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