5.2 Giant’s Sconce

Sperrins dun © Alan Sproull

From the top of the Giant’s Sconce, it is easy to see why it would make a good place to build a fort. There are views in all directions and it is a short distance by land to the River Bann and the sea beyond.

This monument is thought to be the site of the ancient fortress of Dún Ceithirn. Today the site is a flat-topped hill but it was once a fort with walls 5-8 metres thick.

Adomnán, Colmcille’s biographer, describes the saint as predicting the Battle of Dún Ceithirn during his visit to the Convention of Drum Ceat saying that a local well at Camus would flow with the blood of his kinsmen.

The battle in 632 was between Congal Cáech, a king of east Ulster, and Domnall mac Áedo, a Donegal relative of Colmcille’s and king of Tara – perhaps the most powerful kingship in Ireland.

Dún Ceithirn seems to have been under Congal’s control and he may have been attempting to undermine Domnall’s power. Domnall won the battle but had to attack Congal again in 639 in the Battle of Mag Roth, also allegedly predicted by Colmcille.

 

Getting there

There is no marked footpath but the top of the hill is accessible along a forestry track. Strong footwear is advised. The walk takes about 20 minutes one way.

From Limavady take the Windyhill Road (B201)(known locally as "The Murderhole Road" after infamous highway man Cushy Glen) and head east along this road towards Coleraine. After about 6 miles, look out for Bratwell Road on the left. Approx. 200m past this junction there is a small forest gate on the left hand side, with an informal roadside parking space suitable for one or two vehicles. Park here, cross the gate and follow the forest ride and clearing to the summit of the Sconce.


 
   
  • Drum Ceat, Limavady, Ireland.
     

    5.1 Drum Ceat, Limavady

    According to later legend when Colmcille left Ireland it is said that he vowed never again to set foot on Irish soil. However he appears to have returned at least once - for the Convention of Drum Ceat.

  • Giant's Sconce, Sperrins, Ireland.
     

    5.2 Giant’s Sconce

    From the top of the Giant’s Sconce, it is easy to see why it would make a good place to build a fort. There are views in all directions and it is a short distance by land to the River Bann and the sea beyond.

  • St Patrick’s CofI, Coleraine, Sperrins, Ireland.
     

    5.3 St Patrick’s CofI, Coleraine

    The earliest record of Coleraine appears in Adomnán’s Life of St Columba where he mentions that Colmcille stayed with the Bishop of Coleraine on his way home from the Convention of Drum Ceat.

  • Camus, Sperrins, Ireland.
     

    5.4 Camus

    The red sandstone fragment of the early medieval Camus cross now stands in a graveyard which sits on the west side of the River Bann to the south of Coleraine.

  • Ballintemple, Sperrins, Ireland.
     

    5.5 Ballintemple

    It is believed that the first church on this site was founded by St Adomnán (c.628-704), Abbot of the monastery at Iona from 679 to 704 and the author of the 'Life of St Columba'.