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Souterrains, le monde creusé par l'homme. Jérôme et Laurent Triolet. Carrières souterraines, champignonnières, villes souterraines, souterrains-refuges, habitats troglodytiques, tunelles de guerre, souterrains cultuels, catacombes.

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Souterrains of Ireland

 

Ireland, particularly in the South including County Cork, is very rich in medieval underground passages (“souterrains” in Irish scientific archaeological vocabulary). These souterrains are often in connection with fortified places, including circular enclosures, the ringforts. We visited some of these cavities with our colleague and friend James P. McCarthy who dedicated in 1977 his MA Thesis to the souterrains of County Cork. Unlike the French underground passages, many of these networks are stone-built, dry stone walls reinforced by monolithic pillars supporting the ceiling slabs. Pillars or vertical slabs narrowing the tunnels mark the passage to different areas of the souterrain, and in some cases, Ogham stones (steles engraved with inscriptions in Ogham alphabet erected from the fifth to the seventh century) have even been reused to support the ceiling slabs. Besides these stone-built souterrains, there are also underground passages directly carved into the rock, these rock-cut souterrains are quite similar to those that may be encountered in Western France. One of the most remarkable, that of Dunisky, shows troubling typological similarities with some underground refuges of South-western France, including benches, creepholes, construction shafts, and a room whose ceiling seems to be carved to mimic a house roof. Like other similarities observed in various countries, these similarities between Irish and French cavities could be the result of a convergence. In different countries, facing the same kind of threat, different populations had the same response: they dug underground refuges.

 

 

 


In the Ringfort


Entrance


Stone-built souterrain


Stone-built souterrain


Lintel and jambs


Ceiling slabs


Ringfort


Ringfort


Sett


Entrance


Infilled room


Ogham stone


Narrow hole


Vault


Vault


Bench


Fault mirrors


Creephole and extraction shaft


Room for refugees


Room for refugees


Creephole and extraction shaft


Room and extraction shaft


Room and extraction shaft


Extraction and vent shaft

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