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44,15 km

Vu 1466 fois, téléchargé 1 fois

près de Dundonald, N Ireland (United Kingdom)

I have a tendency to travel down the west coast of Strangford Lough, although to my eye, this is the more picturesque shoreline and certainly boasts more upstanding remains than the eastern shore. This is, of course, perhaps best illustrated by the likes of Castle Ward, Audley’s Castle, Quoile Castle, Inch Abbey, Downpatrick mound (or motte) and everything in between. However, there are some site of interest on the eastern shore on the Ards Peninsula; namely Greyabbey. The abbey was founded as a Cistercian abbey/monastery located on the north side of the village, dating from 1193. Historically it was also called Monesterlee or Monesterlea, which are anglicisations of its Irish name Mainistir Liath (grey abbey/monastery). Architecturally it is important as the first fully gothic style building in Ulster; it is the first fully stone church in which every window arch and door was pointed rather than round headed. However, if one examines the Ordnance Survey and EHS maps, there is a distinct lack of sites marked when compared with the clustering on the opposite shoreline.

I saw the mark of a motte at a road junction of Dunover; having had a look on Google Earth, the site appears to be quite heavily overgrown and covered in trees. My instinct says this could be a raised rath, more than a motte, but I hope to visit the site aboard the trusty Tiger and check out what’s there. There is also a protruding ‘island’ into Strangford Lough called Castle Hill in the Ardkeen townland. The maps mark a castle and church, and research suggests that Ardkeen was previously a site that had been a royal site of the Ui Echach Arda in the early medieval period), and it was here in 1196 that John de Courcy built his principle [motte] castle, which in the 13th and 14th centuries became the caput of a mensal manor of the Earls of Ulster (the seat of legislative council of the Earls of Ulster). All that remains of the stone towerhouse is a demolished and overgrown pile, however just to the south side of Castle Hill still remains the old medieval church, Ecclessia Sanctae Mariae de Ardkene [the church of St.Mary of Ardkeen] which was built on the foundations of a much earlier church. You can clearly see them on Google Earth, but there appears to be no access to them from the road, or at the very least you would have to cross private land to gain access and from experience, this is not always as easy as it sounds. So I might have to give that a miss too, unfortunately. But further down the road is an ‘abbey’ at Ardquin, although little remains, it looks like it might be a nice rest stop, if nothing else.
I think that one of the reasons that I don't tend to use this side of the Lough is that it feels more 'urban' somehow, and less free. The towns and villages don't appear to have sprung organically from modest early habitation, rather they were inserted there in the 19th and 20th Centuries, even though some can trace their origins earlier, it perhaps highlights how bad we have been at preserving the historical feel of these places. I also feel (and I stress this is purely a personal thing) less welcome and perhaps this is also a mitigating factor in my mind. But I will go with an open mind to see what awaits me and hopefully my impressions will change, I just don't hold out much hope. I think that I will continue to explore the western shore more, and I know that there are many nooks and crannies I haven't yet poked into. Clea Lough[s] for example that have several crannogs. Pity that the darker nights and colder weather is starting to draw in.

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