Glossary - R

Rag Tree – A rag tree is a small tree to which people tie rags as votive offerings for ailments. Still a common practice today the rag tree tradition goes back to pre-Christian times.

Rampart – Defensive earthworks.
Defensive ramparts at Churchland/Clonmore in Co. Offaly.

Rath - Earthen ringfort (see Ringfort)
Rath at Carrowreagh in Co. Laois.  Click on the picture for a larger view.  In the larger picture you can clearly see the banks that make up the defences.

Refectory - The eating area at an ecclesiastical site.

Relic – Precious religious object usually associated with a saint.

Ringfort - Ringforts are the most common historical site in Ireland and are one of the most mysterious. There is still much debate about their date and purpose. The general consensus is that they are defensive homesteads dating from the early Christian period (500 - 1100AD). However dates have been suggested as far back as the Iron Age (700BC - 500AD) and as late as the Medieval period. Also people have suggested that they might not actually be homesteads but rather should be associated with industry. The ringfort can be divided into two types in Ireland, the rath and the cashel. The rath is the most common type and is made of earth, while the rarer cashel was made of stone.

Ringwork – Defensive enclosure that differs to a ringfort in that these are generally later in date and purely defensive.  Ironically they can be rectangular in shape.

Rock Art - A type of Bronze Art usually found on natural boulders and standing stones. Cup marks are very common motifs.

Romanesque – Style of architecture that began in the 7th century and lasted until the 12th century and is identifiable by rounded arches which gave way to the pointed arch of Gothic architecture.
Romanesque archway with decoration (first picture) and gargoyle figure (second), at Monaincha Abbey in Co. Tipperary.

Round tower – Tall tower structure, round in shape, constructed at ecclesiastical sites between the 9th and 12th centuries.  Their function has long been debated and they were long thought of as being used to hide people and possessions during raids. However, their name in Irish, Cloig-theach, suggests they were primarily used as bell towers. They can be seen for miles away so may have functioned as beacons to pilgrims.

  Round tower at Timahoe in Co. Laois.