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Slievemore ‘Deserted Village’

First-edition Ordnance Survey map (1838) of the village of Slievemore, Achill Island
First-edition Ordnance Survey map (1838) of the village of Slievemore, Achill Island

This article is © Copyright Achill Archaeological Field School

The ‘deserted’ village of Slievemore is one of the best known sites on Achill. The deserted settlement lies on the foothills of Mount Slievemore, straddling the 70 metre contour, and consists of three distinct groups of houses linked by a pathway. These three groups of houses are referred to as Tuar, Tuar Riabhac and Faiche, although the names are toponyms that post-date the abandonment of the settlement and refer to different types of grazing to be found amongst the ruins. In total, the village stretches from east to west for about 1.5km. In the first edition Ordinance Survey of 1838, 137 houses were recorded, of which traces of 74 houses can still be made out. The buildings are of dry stone construction and the walls often survive up to their original height. Over 90 per cent of the houses are aligned north-south, at right angles to the street. A majority of the houses at Slievemore were one-roomed cabins called byre houses, where livestock were kept at one end during the winter, separated from the humans at the other end by a small channel. This type of dwelling was the prototype of the classic three-roomed house that can still be seen in most Achill villages. Between 1991 and 2013 the AAFS excavated three houses in the village, House 36 (1991-2003), House 26 (2004-9) and House 6 (2013).

Houses at Slievemore
Houses at Slievemore
Plan of House 36 (McDonald 1998, 14)
Plan of House 36 (McDonald 1998, 14)

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Excavations Bulletins:

House 36


House 23

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