Staigue Stone Fort

A 2,500 Year Old Engineering Marvel Tucked Away in a Magical Valley

The Staigue Stone Fort is about 14 miles from the village of Parknasilla, a small detour from the Ring of Kerry.

The ruined stone ring fort has a massive circular stone wall with an outer diameter of 27 meters and is a bit of an engineering marvel. The whole structure is constructed entirely with undressed stones without mortar, and the walls are as high as 5.5 meters and about 4 meters thick at the bottom.

The wall to the north side is quite well preserved even today; you can even see the coping stones in some places.

The fort’s foreboding walls are a sight to behold and offer breath-taking views of the surrounding countryside and the sea.

The surrounding land has also got a certain magical feel to it – a meadow with soft green grass, wildflowers, and colourful Irish birds – that makes the visit well worth the trip.

Looking into 1 of the rooms in Staigue Fort
Tunnel at Staigue Fort

You can go inside the fort through a 2 meter-high passage roofed with double lintels. The inside of the ringfort features an elaborate network of stairways that lead to the top of the ring fort. On the internal wall, there are two 2 meter-high oval chambers.

See the picture above of a tunnel leading into 1 of the chambers.

Looking into 1 of 2 rooms in Staigue Fort
Steps at Staigue Fort

People of all ages typically find it easy to climb the fort, provided one is decently fit. The stairs and platforms make the climb easy enough for those who are steady on their feet; beware though, there are no handholds or guardrails, so you want to be cautious at all times. Keep your children close because it is very high.

What was Staigue Stone Fort used for?

There are no records for the exact date of construction, but the Staigue Stone Fort was built sometime in the Iron Age, probably for a Local Lord. The exact purpose of the fortress is unknown, but there are several theories around it.

The fort is also considered a place of worship and an observatory and has been attributed to many different cultures over the years. The structure itself hints at either a defensive building or a temple.

How easy was it to defend against attack?

Looking out the front of Staigue Fort to Kenmare Bay
Looking out the front of Staigue Fort to Kenmare Bay
Hills at the back of Staigue Fort
Hills at the back of Staigue Fort

It is nestled into the hill looking out over Kenmare Bay so they can see invaders coming from the sea. They could prepare for an attack. But it has 1 Achilles heel. If an attack is coming from behind they would not know until it was too late because it is a short run down the hill.

So it is a defensive stronghold from the front, not the back. See my pictures above. The Cahersiveen ring forts were better equipped for invaders. See my web page on Cahersiveen Ring Forts here.

Is there any folklore to do with Staigue Stone Fort?

There is a lot of folklore surrounding the fort as well – one of the local stories claims that very little people’ inhabited it while searching for ore (this theory is somewhat validated by evidence of copper mining in the vicinity). Another superstition is that fairies played football in the vicinity of the stone fort.

How to get to Staigue Stone Fort?

Take the road from Sneem to Caherdaniel. Once you enter Castlecove lookout for the church which will be on the right-hand side. Once you pass the church take the road next on your right. 270m down that road you will come to a Y in the road. Keep to the right of the Y.

Take the next left which is 250m. 300m down that road you will come to a T junction. Turn right. Continue on that road for 3 km to the stone fort.

Conclusion

If you’re passionate about history, don’t skip the trip to the fort. It’s about a 5-minute detour from the Ring of Kerry with a short walk to the fort. You can enjoy the fort and surrounding picturesque views all in about 30-40 minutes.

It’s also fairly convenient; there are clean toilets nearby and plenty of parking. There’s no entry fee, but there is a box where you can pay a trespass fee of €1. We definitely suggest you do, if you can, and if not, well then you can enjoy the place all the same.

Check out my web pages on the Ring of Kerry Drive, The Skellig Ring and Slea Head Drive.

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