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Double-Ended Souterrains

A second style of souterrain is the 'double ender', found at Carn More ringfort and Faughart Lower. These souterrains have a single zig-zag gallery with no chambers. At the end of the gallery is an escape hatch leading to the top of the ringfort bank. In this way the occupants had a way out at the edge of the ringfort and could escape. Both the Carn More and Faughart Lower souterrains were placed inside the main settlement and both were almost certainly entered from inside a house.

Double-Ended Souterrains

Souterrains are a marked feature of Viking period unrest and it is very likely that the safety of the extended family and dependants was a key aspect in their use. At a time when slave-taking and hostage-ransoming was common, it made sense to hide non-combatants.

ASI: What do souterrains tell us about Viking raids?
The 'double-ended' souterrain is a private getaway, probably indicating very few people took part in an individual Viking raid. A group of 5 to 8 armed men can achieve a great deal of destruction. However, this might not be enough to guard against people escaping from a double-ended souterrain. The impression is that Viking raiding tactics involved a surprise landing as a large group which rapidly dispersed across the landscape with smaller groups grabbing whatever they could.


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