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They are found in Northern Europe, especially in Ireland.There are also many in South Wales and in Cornwall, where they are called rounds.A "Cork-Kerry type" stone circle, it is flanked by a pair of 1.8m high axial portal stones, which provide a south-west axis, and orient the monument in the direction of the setting sun during the midwinter solstice.The stones in the circle have been shaped to slope upwards to the recumbent stone, the midpoint of which was set in line with the winter solstice sunset viewed in a conspicuous notch in the distant hills. Evidence suggests the fulacht fiadh was in use up until the 5th century AD.
The theories that the ringfort either pre- or post-dates the Early Middle Ages in Ireland, are both based on essentially the same premise, as is highlighted here by Tadhg O'Keefe in relation to the latter argument.In other words, if the Gaelic-Irish did not live in ringforts, where did they live?The conjecture that ringforts can be seen to have evolved from and be part of an Iron Age tradition has been expanded by Darren Limbert.Both stone and earthen ringforts would generally have had at least one building inside. It is likely that many have been destroyed by farming and urbanisation.However, many hitherto unknown ringforts have been found thanks to early Ordnance Survey maps, aerial photography, and the archaeological work that has accompanied road-building.
In support of this he notes that: "The other major Eoganachta ringforts [other than Cashel] of Ballycatten, Garranes and possibly Garryduff, despite limited stratigraphic discernment, have produced artefacts of ambiguously early origins. supports an intrusion of a Celtic warrior caste..." The similarity with South Welsh 'raths' and Cornish 'rounds' suggests a degree of cultural interaction between Western British and Irish populations, however differences in dates of occupation mean this cannot be confirmed.