Irish Log Houses

Margaret Anne Cusack
start of chapter | Chapter XV

Log-houses were also used, and were constructed of beams and planks of timber, something like the Swiss chalet. One of these ancient structures was discovered in Drumhalin bog, county Donegal, in 1833.Irish Celt The house consisted of a square structure, twelve feet wide and nine feet high: it was formed of rough planks and blocks of timber; the mortises were very roughly cut—a stone celt,[3] which was found lying upon the floor, was, probably, the instrument used to form them. The logs were most likely formed by a stone axe.[4] The roof was flat, and the house consisted of two compartments, one over the other, each four feet high. A paved causeway led from the house to the fire-place, on which was a quantity of ashes, charred wood, half-burnt turf, and hazle-nuts. So ancient was this habitation, that twenty-six feet of bog had grown up around and over it. It is supposed that this was only one portion of a collection of houses, which were used merely as sleeping-places. A slated enclosure was also traced, portions of the gates of which were discovered. A piece of a leathern sandal, an arrow-headed flint, and a wooden sword, were also found in the same locality.

It is probable that wattles and clay formed the staple commodity for building material in ancient Erinn. Planks and beams,Irish Stone Axe with rough blocks of wood or stone, were most likely reserved for the dwelling-place of chieftains. Such were the material used also for the royal residence in Thorney Island, a swampy morass in the Thames, secured by its insular position, where the early English kings administered justice; and such, probably, were the material of the original Palais de Justice, where the kings of Gaul entrenched themselves in a pal-lis, or impaled fort.


[3] Celt.—Catalogue of R. I. A. p. 43. This celt is the largest discovered in Ireland, and is formed of coarse clay-slate. It is 22 inches long, 1 inch thick, and 3 ¾ broad at the widest part. It was found in the bed of the river Blackwater, two miles below Charlemont, county Armagh.

[4] Axe.—Catalogue of R. I. A. p. 80. Sir W. Wilde pronounces this to be one of the most beautiful specimens of the stone battle-axe which has been found in Ireland, both for design and execution. It is composed of finegrained remblendic sylicite, and is highly polished all over. It was found in the river at Athlone.