The traces of antiquity are numerous. On the summit of Tory Hill, called in Irish Slieve-Grian, or "the Hill of the Sun," is a circular space covered with stones, on one of which, resting on several others, is an inscription which has given rise to much controversy. On the summit of the Hill of Cloghmanta, which signifies "the Stone of God," is another circular heap. Both these monuments are much decayed. The most remarkable cromlech is at Kilmogue, in the barony of Knocktopher; the upper stone is 45 feet in circumference, and is elevated six feet above the ground at its lower end, and 15 at its upper: the country people call it Lachan Schal, or "the Great Altar." Numerous other cromlechs are dispersed through various parts of the county. Not far from the spa of Ballyspellane is a large stone, formerly supported by several smaller: it is called Cloghbannagh, or "the Stone of Blessing." Not far from it is a conical stone, lying on its side. The remains of another heap, called Cloghan-carneen, may be seen at Ballynasliegh, near Durrow. Many human hones have been found in the neighbourhood, and, among others, a skeleton enclosed between flags, with a horn near it.

On the Hill of Garryduff, in Fiddown parish, is a place called Leibe-na-cuhn, or "the Dog's Grave," around which are the remains of ranges of stones. Several small urns containing ashes were found in front of a great stone in Kilbeacon parish, and in other places. Raths are very numerous in some districts, particularly in Galmoy and near the Nore; they are of various shapes, and are formed of one, two, or three enclosures. Chambers under ground, roofed with flags, are found not accompanied by raths. At Earlsrath is a very large fort, enclosed by a fosse, in the area of which are the vestiges of buildings. Some large moats are observable in several parts: the largest are at Callan, Kilkenny, and Castlecomer; one of them, at Rathbeath, is pointed out as the place where Hereman built his palace and was buried. There are five round towers: one at St. Canice, a few feet from the southern side of the cathedral; another at Tulloherm; a third at Kilree; a fourth at Fertagh, or Fertagh-na-geiragh; of the fifth, at Aghaviller, only the lower part remains.

In the parish of Macullee is a place called Reighlig-na-lughduigh, or "the Burying-place of the Black Lough," where are some upright stones, near which human bones and several bronze spear-heads were found. There is a faint tradition that a great battle had been fought here. Besides the ruined abbeys in the city of Kilkenny, there were two very celebrated monasteries of the Cistertian order, one at Jerpoint, the other at Graig. The Dominicans had abbeys at Rossbercon and at Thomastown, and the Carmelites at Knocktopher. An old abbey is said to have stood at Barrowmount; another near Kellymount; and a second monastery, not noticed by writers on the monastic antiquities of Ireland, at Thomastown.

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