BRONZE AGE HILLFORTS OF COOLAGAD AND DOWNSHILL
Mast on summit of Coolagad Hillfort
View from Coolagad
O'Driscoll, O'Brien and Hawkes, the current experts in Irish Hillforts, explain their significance:
"Hillforts are the largest prehistoric monuments in the Irish landscape. Their imposing nature points to the significance they held in economic, political and other terms for complex societies of the Bronze Age in particular. Excavation confirms these were centres of high-status residence, specialist crafts and trade, used for military purposes and assembly, as well as for ritual and ceremony. Their prominent siting was strategic, connected not only to control of routeways but part of a highly visible display of political and military power in the landscape. As with their British counterparts, the scale and logistics of hillfort construction in Ireland are impressive, with extensive clearance of land and the building in many cases of several kilometres of artificial defences enclosing areas of up to 10 ha and more."
Coolagad and Downshill Hillforts being destroyed by Forestry Plantations:
"Hill forts are vulnerable to other developments, the most serious being high-density planting of conifers ... 20% have been impacted in a serious manner by State-subsidised forestry ... In the worst cases planting, preceded by clearance and deep ploughing, extended across all or most of the Hillfort interior. This has taken place at the Class 1 Hill forts of Coolagad (and) Downshill ... This occurred despite prior knowledge of these hillforts, with many examples of harvesting and re-planting forest at those same locations" (James O'Driscoll, Alan Hawkes & William O'Brien Chapter 5 - the Irish Hillfort: in Hill forts Britain Ireland and the Nearer Continent 2017)