Binders Cove - An ancient hiding place
Binders Cove also known as Finnis Souterrain is a place of interest that was recently added to the growing list of places to visit in Northern Ireland. It is located just outside the village of Finnis near Dromara.
What is it?
Binder's Cove is a souterrain. “Souterrain” literally means “underground place” in French. It is used by archaeologists to describe underground constructions from ancient times. Binder's Cove is an ancient hiding and storage place. It consists of an underground corridor about 100 feet long (30 meters), 3 feet wide (1 meter) and 5 feet tall (1.5 meters). On the side of the corridor are two smaller corridors extending about 20 feet (6 meters). The inside is covered with stone masonry which gives it a feeling of durability and permanence.
Binder's Cove was built probably in the 9th century, one of many souterrains in Ireland. Their primary purpose appears to have been defensive. This was the time when Viking raids were at a height and monasteries and rich farmhouses were a target. Furthermore, local chieftains would often raid each other's territory. In such times of uncertainty and insecurity souterrains offered a hiding place from attack. Well concealed and with the entrance hidden it was hoped that invaders would not see them.
Apart from functioning as hiding places, they were probably also used for the storage of valuables. Being hidden they offered a higher level of security. There is also a possibility that they were used for storing foods.
Binders Cove was discovered in the 18th century. For two hundred years it remained in a state of disrepair and attracted little interest from locals or visitors. Then a few years ago some of the locals approached Banbridge District Council recommending that Binder's Cove be opened to the public since there are very few souterrains that are open to the public. The Council agreed. The stonework inside the cove was repaired and strengthened and solar panels were added outside to provide electrical light for the visitors. In this way, modern technology was added to this ancient monument and the result is a more pleasant experience for the visitor in an ecologically friendly way.
How to Get There
Take the B7 road that leads from Rathfriland to Ballynahinch past Dromara. Less than two miles south of Dromara on the B7 is the village of Finnis. From Finnis take the Carrigagh Road, signposted towards Legananny Dolmen. Follow the road for about 2.5 miles and on the left is a small lay-by with a sign about Binders Cove.
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