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Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Ballalough; Ballakeighan; Ballakaighen

In the parish of Arbory.
On the Isle of Man.

OS Map Grid Reference: SC25946846
Latitude 54.08249° Longitude -4.66245°

Ballakaighan has been described as a Timber Castle but is rejected as such.

There are earthwork remains.


Remains of a fort. Two entrenchments about 67 yards diameter (Kermode 1930).
Both sites were excavated by internees during the war under the direction of Dr. Bersu. Site A - SC 25946846 {becomes the type stie for the Isle of Man}. Site B - SC 25996845 was similar to A.
A. has the appearance of a typical rath consisting of a broad and dampcircular depression with inner low broad bank around three quarters ofthe circumference of a level circular area defined by a narrow ditch of varing depth. the area enclosed within these works has a diameter of 120 feet with a low bank surrounding it. The outer depression was found to be a ditch 30 feet wide x 3 feet deep and was used for drainage purposes. The inner ditch was merely a quarry for the inner bank. The internal area showed several thousand postholes found in the underlying sand with many of the oak stumps remaining. At differing levels clay floors, pavements and hearths were found indicating a longperiod of habitation with 3 separate constructions. Under the outer edge of the inner bank was an incompletely excavated ring, ring 1, of 4 inches diam. posts 2 - 5 feet apart. At the foot ofthe inner slope of this bank, ring 2 was a continuous row of stout rectangular posts 4-6 inches thick. Then follow concentric rings of stronger posts. In the middle of the structure was the hearth and the floor was partlywood, partly clay and partly cobbled - the latter leading to the main entrance in the S.E. The inner banks and ditches have causeways at the entrances. Either the 2nd., - average 45 feet radius from the hearth - or the 6th- average 25 feet radius from the hearth - ring of inner posts may have served as the outside wall of the house with only the inner area being roofed. If ring 6 was the house wall then rings 2-6 could be regarded as a courtyard and ring 2 as a stockade but it seems more likely that the entire area, ring 2 - was roofed - an area of 6,000 square feet. The roof was dome shaped and of earth sods - probably with a hole over the hearth. The outer ring - ring 1 - of posts served as a protective fence to prevent damage by livestock etc. to the structure. This type of site is characteristic and almost certainly the house of one important (?chieftain) farming or family community with its cattle sheds under the same roof. Finds were few but indicated a predominant stock raising community with domestic textile and metal working - rotary querns indicated corngrowing. These date the occupation to the 1st centuries A.D. - no doubt by a Celtic race. Comparable earthworks in MAN are found near the fresh water which is essential to cattle raising - there are at least 5 in the south part of the Island and doubtless others in the North. Site B though smaller is similar (Bersu 1945-6)
Dated to circa 3rd century A.D. (Notice to Model in Manx Museum).
Site 'A'. A series of concentric banks and ditches with an overal diam. of 64.0m and now mainly rather vague and partially obliterated.
Like 'B' it is set in a marsh and is covered with coarse grass. The inner bank is now of glacis type with a small portion of inner slopes in the NE only. Average width 3.0m., inner height 0.2m and outer height 0.3m. Surrounding the inner bank is an average 2.0m wide ditchwith a depth of 0.4m from its circumference. Surrounding the ditch isa 6.0m wide and 0.3m high outer bank, and beyond it an outer ditch average 8.0m wide and 0.3m deep. At 'C' is a 5.0m wide causeway across the outer ditch and at D is a 10.0m wide causeway across the inner ditch. Site 'B'. - is more pronounced that 'A' and consists of a circular bank average 0.8m and internal height of average 0.3m. In the south the bank is weak and at 'A' it has been obliterated. The strongest portion is in the NE where it has an outer height of 2.0m and an innerheight of 1.1m. A bank 6.0m long and average 0.4m high crosses it at right angles at 'E'. There is no visible trace of a ditch (F1 DE 28 11 55). (PastScape)

This 'motte', identified as such by Armitage Rigby turns out to be the site of a very large unfortified round-house of the Celtic Iron Age. (King 1983)

Comments (by Philip Davis)

The only question here being the reason Rigby ever thought this well known site clearly identified as pre-historic by earlier finds in the early C20 was a motte?
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This record last updated on Tuesday, April 18, 2017