Souterrains, also referred to as earth-houses or underground structures, are a type of archaeological feature unique to Ireland. It is believed that these subterranean structures served a variety of purposes, including as storage facilities, living quarters, and ritual spaces, during the Iron Age and Early Middle Ages.

Souterrains are prevalent in the northern and western regions of Ireland, where they are frequently associated with ringforts and other forms of defensive structures. It is believed that the presence of souterrains in these regions may have afforded additional protection and security to the locals during times of armed conflict.

Souterrains are characterised by their intricate construction, which frequently consists of stone slabs, dry-stone walls, and corbelled roofs. The use of these building techniques and materials demonstrates the ancient builders’ technical expertise as well as their familiarity with local geology and building traditions.

It is believed that souterrains served a variety of functions, including as places to store valuable goods, as dwellings, and as ritual spaces. The presence of hearths, cooking pits, and other domestic features in some souterrains indicates that they were used as living quarters, whereas the presence of ritual deposits, such as animal bones and pottery, indicates that they were utilised for religious or spiritual purposes.

Interactive Map of Souterrains in the Republic of Ireland