Life Inside the Ringfort
Ringforts were built and occupied during a period of Irish history in which society settled in a pattern of dispersed rural farmsteads. Inside the walls of the ringfort were huts made of wood and stone, with straw or reed thatched roofs. These huts housed single families, and some served as animal byres (covered sheds that served as shelter).
The residents of ringforts practiced animal husbandry and small-scale agriculture of cereal grains and several vegetables. Analysis of faunal remains suggests that cattle, pigs, and sheep constituted the majority of livestock raised within ringfort confines.[vi] Cattle were prized for the dairy they produced, which was processed with tools like butter churns. Pigs were valued for their meat and sheep for their wool. Tools such as querns (special stone tools used for grinding cereals) have been discovered in archaeological excavations of some ringforts, and show how people may have processed some of their crops for eating. The dwellers of ringforts also supplemented their diets of dairy and grain with red deer, fish, and shellfish, among other things.