If there is one thing I have learnt from visiting these old structures and places is that you never truly know how a site is going to make you feel until you’re standing there right in front of it. Photographs and academic research can help build a picture or a story but the emotional experience that a structure and its surrounds provides is never fully understood until one is standing in its shadow, this is very true in the case of Staigue Stone Fort.
Staigue Fort stands on a small hill surrounded on all sides by larger hills and mountains. The surrounding flatland is boggy and uneven. On the day of our visit it was overcast and damp, I feel this gave us a fine example of how important, significant and strong this site must have once been.
It is hard to ascertain exactly when the fort was built but estimates put its date of
construction between the 2nd and 4th century AD. In 1897 T.J Westropp reported that the locals called the building ‘Staig an air’ which he translated as ‘Windy House’, or ‘Temple of the Father’ or ‘The Staired Place of Slaughter’. There are many schools of thought around what the structure may have been created for, some believe it was built as an observatory or for spiritual purposes, others believe that it was built as a defensive structure for a tribe who were mining copper nearby.
What is so fascinating about Staigue is the sthat it is built entirely using the dry stone walling method, no mortar is used to hold tones together, just excellent engineering and attention to detail by the original builders. The fort is 27 metres in diameter and the walls reach about 5.5 metres in height, the base of the walls are 4 metres in width tapering off to two metres at the top. There are two small chambers with corbelled ceilings built into the North and West side of the wall. The walls of the fort have x-shaped stairways which give access to the ramparts.
To the rear of the fort it is very easy to make out the ditches and embankments that helped provide an extra level of defence. Its very easy to get caught up in your imagination and picture would be intruders trying desperately to traverse the swampy bog surrounding the fort before even getting within 20 metres of this impressive structure. I whole heartedly recommend a visit to the wonderful Staigue Fort, the power of the place is palpable.
GPS: 51.80501, -10.01543