From Ancient Legends, Mystic Charms, and Superstitions of Ireland by Lady Francesca Wilde:
The ancient rath, or fort, or liss, generally enclosed about half an acre, and had two or more ramparts, formed by the heads of the tribe for defence. But when the race of the chieftains died out, then the Sidhe crowded into the forts, and there held their councils and revels and dances; and if a man put his ear close to the ground at night he could hear the sweet fairy music rising up from under the earth.
Well I’d like to give a bit of my own definition based on what current Irish people think and say! A fairy rath is a ring in the shape of a mound most commonly found in grassy, hilly areas. Archaeologists say that these mounds are the remnants of ancient buildings, but locals say that the mounds were built by fairies! This is a very well known legend in Ireland especially. A friend of mine from my own generation (I’m in my 30s) believes there is one at the bottom of her garden in southern Ireland!
It is looked upon as bad luck by the Irish and other cultures to build on or near a fairy rath. Sometimes you will find mushrooms by these raths also, as mushrooms tend to appear in fairly populated areas (pun intended) 😉
It is also a good place to go fairy hunting, and it is believed that raths can be gateways to the fairy dimension. When I say fairy dimension, I mean that it is believed that the fairy dimension lays on top of our own dimension. Some lucky people can see into this dimension. People of Celtic and Native American descent are especially known to sight and commune with the fae.
I’ve seen many of these in random fields around Ireland and England. Have you seen any raths in your local area? Please post a pic so we can see!
If you want to learn more about fairies you might enjoy my new Facebook group Brigid’s Faery Rath, named after the Irish celtic goddess. There I’ll be posting various fairy related info and fun fairy related things! I will be doing an up and coming blogpost about Brigid also 🙂