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Farmyard and Field: Gate Pillar - Posts

Where can you see this on display?

Coshkib hill farm, field gates and the entrance to the farmyard. Rural area of the Folk Museum.

Which collection is this part of?

Vernacular farm buildings and landscape.

Why are these gate pillars important?
Brightly whitewashed, stone-built, farm entrance and field-gate support pillars were once a customary and attractive feature in the rural landscape. Their iron barred gates were made by local blacksmiths; sometimes to individual, distinctive designs or to more standard forms.
Several traditional examples of field and farm gate pillars remain in today’s Ulster countryside.
Most surviving gate pillars date from the late 19th to early 20th century, although this popular tradition reaches well back into the 19th century.  
The rounded gate pillars were mostly built from field stones; the top of each post top was flat capped and often a small stone was placed in the centre upon it.
The familiar rural gate pillars indicate a settled, farmed landscape of family farms with whitewashed farmhouses and a surrounding green patchwork of home fields.
By the early 1900s, following several Irish Land Acts, many tenant farmers purchased their holdings from their ‘’Big House’’, estate gentry landlords.
For many farming families, a long attachment to the land together with a new pride of ownership encouraged the construction of clear and practical property boundary markers; which included pillar gate posts.

Image Caption: Farmyard entrance pillars at Coshkib Hill Farm

What should you look out for?
The entrance to the Coshkib farmhouse as approached from the top of the hill.
The two stone, whitewashed farmyard entrance pillars clearly mark the main way down through the farmyard and to the front [and only] door of the farmhouse.
The tillage fields nearest to the farmhouse also have substantial rounded gate pillars and blacksmith-made gates. The iron gates frame several long cross-strap bars and curved bars, whose strong, simple but effective visual design adds to the pleasant appearance of the settled landscape.
However, from the early 1950s, throughout the countryside many traditional field and house entrance gate pillars were purposefully destroyed. They were replaced, more often than not, with pre – cast, concrete field-gate pillars or squared masonry built gate-entrance pillars.
This change was due in part to the passing of time, but the main cause was the steady introduction of mechanised farm machinery onto farms throughout Ulster, especially during the second half of the 20th century. Many older farm entrances were simply not wide enough to permit access for motor vehicles, tractors, and other large types of farm machinery.
So, while not a rarity, the older farm gate pillars are no longer as common as they once were.