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A clochán is a dry-stone hut with a corbelled roof, commonly associated with the south-western Irish seaboard. The precise construction date of most of these structures is unknown with any degree of certainty.
According to archeologist Lloyd Laing, "There can be little doubt that these buildings belong to a long-established Celtic tradition, though there is at present no direct evidence to date the surviving examples before c.AD 700". Some associated with religious sites may be pre-Romanesque, he considers most fully intact structures to date after the 12th century or later.
They are most commonly round beehive huts, but rectangular plans are known as well. It has been suggested that the rectangular footprints date to a later era. Some clochans are not completely built of stone, and may have possessed a thatched roof. The walls are very thick, up to 1.5 metres (4 ft 11 in). Sometimes several clochans are joined together by their walls.
Clochans are mainly found in the Southwest of Ireland, for example at Skellig Michael, Church Island off Beginish Island, Glanfahan, Fahan and Reask in the Dingle Peninsula of County Kerry. Many occur in religious contexts such as used by the monks following Saint Patrick; moreover, his successors carried on the architectural tradition in the Scottish Isle of Iona and eventually via Aidan to the eastern English Islands of Farne and Holy Island. There are others in ringforts (such as Leacanbuaile, County Kerry) that are commonly interpreted as secular dwellings. Elaborate dry walled stone churches like the Gallarus Oratory may derive from clochans. The clochan has been described in the 7th to 8th century law Críth Gablach.
- Beehive house
- Christian monasticism
- Chysauster Romano-British settlement in southwest Britain
- Dry stone
- Vernacular architecture
- B. Olsen, Sacred Places North America, CCC Publishing, Santa Cruz, California (2003)
- Edwards, Nancy (1990) The archaeology of early medieval Ireland, Batsford, London .
- Aalen, F. H. A. (1964) Clochans as Transhumance Dwellings in the Dingle Peninsula, Co. Kerry
- Henry, Françoise (1948) Early Irish Monasteries, Boat-Shaped Oratories and Beehive Huts
- Henry, Françoise (1956/1957) Early Monasteries, Beehive Huts, and Dry-Stone Houses in the Neighbourhood of Caherciveen and Waterville (Co. Kerry)
- Harbison, Peter (1970), How old is Gallarus oratory? A reappraisal of its role in early Irish architecture, Medieval Archeology, Vol. XIV, p. 34-59
- Laing, Llyod Robert (2006). The Archaeology of Celtic Britain And Ireland: C. Ad 400 - 1200. Cambridge University Press. p. 222. ISBN 9780521838627.
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