After you turn right for Ratoath at the Nine Mile Stone you will see on your left Cnoc Neil or Neil’s Mound or hill.
This distinctive feature, with its larch trees, is a natural mound. As the land in the Ashboume area is fertile, low-lying and drained by rivers it has been attractive to settlers over long periods of history. Investigation of the area around the mound has shown evidence of settlement as far back as the Stone Age 4,000 B.C. or 6,000 years ago.
Artefacts found on the site include stone implements from the Middle Stone Age and tools from the Neolithic or New Stone Age. Evidence of a ‘fulacht fia’ shows the area settled during the Bronze Age (approx. 2,000 B.C. – 500 B.C.). A fulacht fia was a pit filled with water, into which stones heated in the fire were placed, in order to cook meat.
Still later it has been shown that there was a hill-fort on the mound and that this was protected by a double ditch around the base. Also dating from this time, up to the 9th century, is a souterrain (underground passage) to the west of the mound.
Finds during the recent excavations along the route of the new by-pass, especially in the area of Fleenstown Little and Baltrasna should greatly add to our knowledge of the area.
Many thanks to Ephrem Feeley for information contained in the above article.