“The way of life of a people, including their attitudes, values, beliefs, arts, sciences, modes of perception, and habits of thought and activity”.
The Mourne landscape has shaped the way of life and vice versa. This was truly appreciated by the renowned geographer, Estyn Evan. He believed that the intertwining of habitat, heritage and history provided the geographical basis for regional identity and the sense of place. In 1951 Evans published his book ‘Mourne Country’, saying ‘..stories cling to almost every species of tree and plant’. It could also be said that stories cling to every stone and the many structures made from stone !
Mourne is not just about scenery, habitats and wildlife – it has been a ‘living landscape’ dating back for many generations. It’s a dynamic and ever changing landscape. Man’s interaction with nature and stone can be seen in ancient pre-Christian and Christian sites. It’s also evident in the scheduled monuments – from dolmens to castles – and in the remnants of traditional farming practices eg lazy beds and booley huts.
Access to the coast means that fishing has always been important. However, it also meant that Mourne granite could be easily exported, giving rise to a rich industrial heritage. The skills of the Mourne people were used in building the dry stone walls and the Mourne Wall. The latter is a gravity-defying wall that weaves its way for 22 miles over the highest summits. It is matched in beauty and engineering prowess by the majestic Silent Valley and Ben Crom reservoirs, supplying Belfast’s water needs since the1930s.
Glacial deposits of sand and gravel, particularly around the Mourne Plain, support sand and gravel extraction. And of course around all of this industry are layers of social history, cultural traditions and folklore.