Living 50 metres off the north Mayo coast at Downpatrick Head sits the 45 metres high flat-topped sea stack Dún Briste. (The Broken Fort) This is a relatively new sea stack as it was only separated of the mainland Ireland in 1393 when monster seas severed it from County Mayo in an overnight storm. The summit of the stack is approximately 50 metres long and 15 metres across the centre. This flat-topped stack contains the remains of the buildings where people were living on the night of the great storm.
The first ascent by rock climbers was in May 1990 by three UK climbers who climbed a groove system up the north-facing seaward face of the stack. The stack then waited 26 years for another ascent and off course for someone else to stand on its summit, we climbed Dún Briste on the 27th Aug 2016, read more about the ascent, Dún Briste climb 2016.
In 1980 three scientists landed on the summit by helicopter and spent a couple of hours examining the remains of the buildings and plant life still surviving there. They discovered the remains of a building running across the centre of the headland with enough details left to say that both people and livestock lived together inside it. The remains of the second building was found to be slowly falling into the sea along the western edge of the summit. Two unusual finds on the summit were an ancient livestock separation gate which allows sheep to pass from one field to another but restricts cattle from passing through and a still-functioning quern stone. The size and shape of the buildings and this unusual type of gate suggest that these remains date back to medieval times.