The Rathcroghan landscape consists of over 240 archaeological sites, 60 of which are recorded as National Monuments. These monuments are scattered over a landscape of approximately 6.5 square kilometres. Many of the archaeological sites comprise of enclosures, barrows, mounds and pillar stones but there are also numerous other features such as ancient trackways, townland boundaries, field systems and the unusual pits (the pit-fields), characteristic of the area.
Rathcroghan Mound, the focal monument of Rathcroghan, is believed to have been of great ceremonial and ritual importance during the later prehistoric period and in the centuries immediately before and after the birth of Christ. Today Rathcroghan Mound can be seen from the N5, standing proud in a field which provides extensive views of the Rathcroghan landscape in all directions and towards the surrounding counties Galway, Longford and Sligo on a fine day. There is a nearby car park and the site is open to visitors year-round.
Rathmore is a well-preserved, distinctly elevated ringfort, that is believed to have been a high-status residence in medieval times. It is particularly prominent, and being located just on the N5, chances are that you would have spotted it while driving through the area.
Rathnadarve is one of the largest enclosure earthworks in Rathcroghan, measuring an impressive 115 m in diameter. According to local lore this is the site where the famous fight between the white bull of Connaught and the brown bull of Cooley took place, which features in in the Táin Bó Cúailnge (Cattle Raid of Cooley).
Karst landscape and water quality
Rathcroghan commands an elevated site on top of a karst limestone plateau which contains numerous karst formations such as swallow holes, dolines, sinking streams and surface springs. Karst landscapes can be challenging for agricultural enterprises in a number of ways, includinga high risk of groundwater pollution and risk of collapsed karst forms, which could endanger livestock and machinery. The thin top soil and exposed stone in the area not only lowers productivity by reducing the ability to plough and reseed, but again, significantly increases risk of water pollution.