Part of Iron Age fort at Dúnbeg in Dingle falls into sea

‘Little can be done’ to save national monument and tourist attraction

Much of the western wall of the promontory fort at Dunbeg in Dingle has fallen into the sea. Photograph: RTE

Much of the western wall of the promontory fort at Dunbeg in Dingle has fallen into the sea. Photograph: RTE

Thu, Jan 30, 2014, 11:34

Serious damage has been done to an important Iron Age fort on the Dingle peninsula.

Much of the western wall of the dramatically perched cliff stone structure at Dúnbeg fell into the sea in recent days and the site has been closed from the roadway at Slea Head.

Personnel from the National Monuments Service are on their way to inspect the site, but it is thought little can be done to save the promontory fort which is both a national monument and a tourist attraction.

The Dúnbeg fort, precariously located on a sheer cliff jutting south into Dingle Bay, has long been identified as vulnerable and a full archaeological assessment was carried out in the late 1970s.

Excavation results show its earliest phase may date to the Bronze Age, around 800 BC, but it was in use throughout the Celtic period.

The round fort with its dramatic views is a popular visitor attraction at the centre of a family restaurant business on the Slea Head Drive.

The western limit collapsed at the weekend and the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht say safety is now the priority.

“There has been very serious storm damage and a large part of the western limits of the site has fallen in to the sea. The immediate priority is to ensure public safety and the site is now fully closed off from the upper roadway,” a spokesman said.

“The site is being inspected by OPW and National Monuments Service personnel to assess the situation on the ground. However, the scale of the recent damage, coupled with the nature and location of the site, would suggest that may be very little that can usefully be done.”

Archaeologist Isabel Bennett, curator of the local museum, said nothing could have been done in advance by the State to preserve the monument. Collapse was always a possibility, but Ms Bennett said she hoped that a structure could be put in place to safely overlook the remains.