Q & A: Why Are the Entrances to Sacred Sites in Ireland so Uniquely Shaped?

A stile at the entrance of a an ancient Irish tomb that Tink discovered on her travels.

Tink sent along this photo to illustrate one of the unique entrances she noticed when visiting ancient sites in Ireland, but it's unique shape left her asking, "Why?" Photo of Dun Chaoin Burial Grounds in Dingle, County Kerry, by Tink Vasickanin.

My husband and I recently came back from our first trip to Ireland, and we’re wondering… Why do Irish Burial Grounds have a ‘V’ slot near the entrance way?  It was at practically every one that we went into.

— Tink Vasickanin via email

Those mysterious entrances have captured the curiosity of many visitors to Ireland. Tink admits to letting her imagination run a bit wild with thoughts of the shape preventing evil spirits from entering.

Truth is, the devil wasn’t the cloven hoofed creature the builders were trying to keep out. The slotted shape makes it easy for people to pass through or over but not livestock such as cows and sheep.

Stile Styles

These entrances, called stiles (think turnstile), are generally recent additions and appear in several forms throughout Ireland.

We’ve collected several examples of stiles… there are a lot more varieties than shown here.

Stone Step Stile - Rock of Cashel, County Tipperary, by Bernard Goldbach

Wood Step Stile - Athassel Priory, County Tipperary, Ireland by Corey Taratuta

Swinging Gate Stile - Hill of Tara, County Meath, by Machss11

Ladder Stile - Glenmalore, County Wichlow by Kevin McLaughlin

Step Stile for travel in Ireland

Cantilevered Stile - Castlebar, County Mayo by Donna Burgess

Modern Stile - Ring of Beara, County Kerry, by Corey Taratuta

Slot Stile - Ventry, County Kerry, by Tink Vasickanin

Concrete Stile - Valencia Island, County Kerry (unconfirmed) by Kartherine Fissette

Concrete Stile - Valencia Island, County Kerry (unconfirmed) by Kartherine Fissette

Fence Stile - Kerry Way, County Kerry by zahaadoom

Author: Corey

Share This Post On

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

The Irish Fireside E-Newsletter features articles and links relating to Irish travel, storytelling, and culture.

* indicates required

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This