The ancient structures, stories, and legends of Inis Mór stretch back to before recorded history. There were men and women, living and toiling on Inis Mór, a thousand years before the birth of Christ. It is a magical, mystical island. A place where people from around the world go to in search of themselves. Often finding, by simply stepping back in time, a meaning and a purpose for their lives. But this was not always a peaceful place, pirates, Vikings, slave ships, and other seafaring adventurers often attacked the island, seeking treasure from the churches and monasteries, and carrying off hapless islanders to be sold into slavery. There are several large Forts on the island, a haunting testament to those violent days
Although Dun Anghus is the most striking of all the ancient Duns (Forts) on Inis Mór, there are several other Forts scattered across the island. Dún Dúchathair (Fort of the Black Stone) is seen by many as equally impressive. This formidable structure stands on a cliff top high above the ocean, on the south-eastern side of Inis Mór, the largest of the three Aran islands. A prehistoric limestone structure, so old that there’s little known of its origins, but it is believed to have been built around the same time as Dun Anghus 1000 years BC.
The strongest impression one has as you approach this formidable structure is the nature and precision of the carefully considered elements incorporated in its design. The site on which it stands makes it clear that the fort was built to protect the islanders from the marauding Vikings and seagoing pirates who repeatedly attacked these islands. With cliffs on three sides and its metres thick walls, any attacking force would have to be prepared to sacrifice countless many men in any attempt to breach its walls. The approach is over fissured rocky ground, one has to constantly be looking down to avoid tripping into the numerous gaps and potholes on the final approach to this stronghold, add to that the chevaux de frises . a dense series of limestone obstruction standing three to four feet high, placed close together in vertical positions, meant every square inch had to be battled for and won only at a high cost. And, whilst struggling to move forward the invading forces would have been exposed to sling-shot, sword, and spear as they struggled around the immovable objects. Their losses would have been unsustainable, enough to deter even the most ambitious Viking!
Truth is, if you were unfortunate enough to be captured in battle by the defendants, being surrounded by those three-hundred-foot-high cliffs, you could be sure you would not be leaving the island the same way you came!